It feels like I just wrote a blog two days ago, but here I am again. Concept of time has been very interesting for me while abroad – 2 months is short for research, but long to be away; this past week went by fast, but it feels like its been longer than three weeks here, the first week was the slowes; 4 weeks seems long, but 1 month seems short, while 2 months seems long, but 7 weeks seems shorter. Haha that probably made no sense to y’all, but ’tis how I feel about time. It probably has a lot to do with mixed emotions. Anywayyyy… WEEK 3
This past week I’ve been researching tangents of themes/interesting points I found from my interviews, namely tangents of government structure, institutional roles – public vs. private, and partner organizations of both the farmers and the government. There are SO many partners (private – Senegalese and foreign, NGOs, and foreign investment) involved with the urban farmers of Provania, and with the state government. Each one (Provania and the State gov’t) has its own long contact list of partners, with some overlapping. Farmers mention that since the government does not communicate with them, sometimes the partners will talk for farmers as a liaison, especially about letting the urban farmers keep their land. The partners, as foreign institutions with money, have more weight with than the farmers. I would like to look into these relationships more, as they are the driving forces of projects for agriculture for the state and for urban farmers themselves. I wonder when and where these partnerships overlap – do the projects overlap? Because none of the state projects seem to reach urban farmers… What are the partners’ angles in each relationship? Do farmers and the government know about the partners’ project with the others? Are these projects long term, or for immediate results? How does this affect the perspectives of the farmers? The gov’t?
I’ll also being following the trail of poop. Manure is a major cost and resource as a natural fertilizer, and component of compost, for the farmers. Just going to investigate how much that poop costs, how much there is available, and the why’s.
5 Marriage proposals and 2 kids
I was warned before coming here that marriage proposals would be a normal occurrence, so luckily I was prepared. Some are more flirty and take the time to speak lies of love and beauty, some are more casual, and some are just straight to the point –
I want to marry you to go to America. I like your face.
Lol, thaankkksss. At the end of the day, these marriage proposals aren’t personal at all since these men don’t even know my name, but it is interesting to be a part of this well-known, well-used situation: marriage for entry/to stay in America. Along the same lines, I’ve also been offered two kids.
Me: He/she is so cute. Mom: *laughs* Take him/her. They’re yours (Turns to kid: Here’s your new Mom)
Of course, the moms are completely joking, and aren’t ACTUALLY offering their kids, nor would they do so easily. But again, at the core of their jokes is their desire to send their kid to America in hopes of better opportunities. Get to America, and life will be better.
The libra in me can’t help but feel mixed about this as I weigh both sides. I’ve grown up learning about the disillusionment of the “American Dream,” especially for immigrants of color hoping for jobs, money, and success, but only finding racism, poverty, and struggle. But I also have come to recognize that even though the US has its many, many faults and inequities, there are a lot of really great things and opportunities that aren’t in many countries. And if you are able to stand on your own two feet in the US, you probably have a lot of perks people don’t have elsewhere – running water, drinkable water, a working sewage system, a hospital (even if it is expensive), public schools (even if they aren’t the best). Then again… the families and the communities here in Dakar are so BEAUTIFUL. People support each other; they take time to hang out with each other, the communities are smaller, and closer, the bonds are really strong. And if a kid leaves that for some opportunity in the US, is that worth it? Will that do more harm? Not to mention that they will probably have to deal with racism that they wouldn’t have had before. Oorrrrrr maybe they’ll find a loving community in the US, too, and won’t have problems at all.
What I’m getting to, is that it is so contextual. Some things are better in the US, some things are better here… it depends on what things really matter for that person to be happy, and it also depends on what the person would even experience in either country, at any particular place and time. I don’t know if people should try to go to the US, or not (I don’t even know how most people would get there given crazy US visa reqs). I don’t know if it’s better , and I definitely don’t know if it would be better for them, specifically, or if they should go now, or in a few years, etc. It just puts the standards of a “good life” into perspective, and questions what those standards even are.
Speaking of kids, I’ve been so impressed by the youth here. There’s an obvious hierarchy of seniority in the households/families, which I think is pretty awesome and character-building for the kids. Unless they are too young to do something, often the younger persons in a room are the ones that set the food out, serve the tea, runs small errands like buying tissues from the corner boutique, and cleaning up after the meals (dishes, sweeping). Further, the older persons, with priority to men and guests, sit on stools to eat, or get prime couch seats, and gets served tea first! It’s like a reward for making it through life, and also probably for serving their time when they were kids, lol. What a great cycle.
The kids do all of this without questioning, and without whining. Can you imagine asking an average American kid to run to the corner store a couple times, serve the food, clean up, get you pillows, and offer up seats on the couch ALL without any talk-back? (I’m sure there are many-a-angels out there in the US who would do this, but think average) Anyway, it creates an atmosphere of respect towards elders, and builds what I think are positive traits in kids – to be helpful, to not be spoiled or expect things, to be useful and have responsibilities (not to mention having trust from the adults in return), to learn how to earn things, and just to learn how to be a part of a community. And just in case, for some unfortunate reason, I need to say this, these kids do a lot, but it’s no where near a sentiment of child abuse, at all. It’s pretty cool… I think I’ll implement this at my household, when I have my own family. ;]
Here are some random pics of art that I saw on Gorée to break up the text in this blog post :]
FUUUTTTBBBOOOOLLL *obligatory post*
OK, can I just say WHATTTTTT JUST HAPPENED TODAY – BRASIL V. GERMANY. Jeesh, 5 goals in the first 25 minutes?!?!?!?! (Granted Brazil didn’t have two starting players but, still…ANY defense at all would have helped). I’ve been watching FIFA a lot with the family, and I felt the need to post about tonight’s game. Did y’all watch that? I was like :O !!!!! ????? !!!! 7-1, Germany. My heart goes out to the futbol fans of Brazil, and to the team.
It’s been really nice to be apart of breaking the fast and dinner/snacks with the family each night. We’ve started to share rounds of green and mint tea, fruits, and juice/soda after eating dinner. Plus, I really appreciate that we go to the house in Casor each night to eat with some of the family and hang out. I didn’t grow up with much of that kind of family dinner time… it’s nice.
Also, there’s a cool organization out here called Marmite du Coeur that travels around Senegal throughout Ramadan and cooks huge, free meals for different neighborhoods!
I MISS MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND HOME SO MUCH. SO FREAKING MUCH.
Once again, this blog is long, so I’m going to stop abruptly here. Thanks for your support! Talk to ya next week.