Connecting with Dakar

July 18, 2019

by Victoria Bergstrom

New Dresses

2 weeks ago Nakeshia, Siddhakshi, and Seneca went to buy fabric for a Senegalese outfit to bring home. Siddhakshi’s sister took them to a shop to pick out fabric and get fitted for their new looks. I was in class when they picked out everything, yet I already had a dress from la Korite. On Friday they were available to be picked up and I was invited to wear my dress for a photo shoot with the trio. After our meetings, I went to Siddhakshi’s house and I saw how beautiful everyone’s dresses were! I felt like a princess taking photos with the girls and I learned that Siddhakshi’s sister is an amazing photographer. We all looked at the photos taken and laughed some before we all returned to our host families for dinner.

Final Classes and Party

Last week we had our final classes and final exams for our courses at ISM. Over the last 6 weeks within each course, all of us have learned in and out of our classes. Our final classes were filled with information with what to expect for our final exams and last lessons to study. Our finals lasted from Wednesday to Friday. On Friday, the last Wolof class was held for the 6-week program as well as dance class. For some of us, we will remain in Dakar while others will leave – yet the memories made in Senegal will last. Possibly the snacks bought from Carrefour will last through our flights, maybe not.

On Saturday night, we had a going away party for the end of the 6-week program here in Dakar. One of the ISM students, Yvanna took me to her favorite restaurant last month and we returned to her favorite restaurant to see Mr. Frank and bid the 3 students leaving Dakar, adieu. It was a beautiful night filled with music, bissap and good food – Mr. Frank made us plantains, fries, different types of meats, shish-kebabs, and more. The 3 students – Melqui, Nakeshia, and Richard will be missed in Dakar!

Bastille Day and Soccer Update

Bastille Day was Sunday and I went to a restaurant called Mawa’s with my host sister, Siddhakshi, and Seneca. The restaurant was very busy, yet we found a table and enjoyed our Sunday brunch. Even though it was busy in the restaurant, it was unusually quiet on the streets for a Sunday and then I was reminded that Senegal had a match that day. Usually Dakar’s streets are filled with taxis and other cars – it can be difficult to even cross the street sometimes! It was very easy to get around until later that day.

In the evening, Senegal played against Tunisia in the African Cup in Egypt and Senegal won 1-0. I went outside and from each household, shop, and restaurant I could hear people cheering for Senegal. Once they won, there was excitement in the streets especially on car-rapides (brightly decorated cars), filled with people wearing Senegalese soccer jerseys and waving flags. I felt that I was at home when I wore my soccer jersey around Dakar amidst a sea of other white and green jerseys. Many advertisements from Orange the mobile company to Kirene water have shown their support for the Senegalese soccer team and as my host mom and many others have said to me, support Senegal in this final game!

Three days ago, Algeria won against Nigeria – now the African Cup has one game left in the series. 

This Friday Senegal plays against Algeria. Allez les lions!

Final 2 Weeks

For the final 2 weeks here in Dakar, we had the choice to start un stage/an internship or learn Wolof. Most students remaining in Dakar are starting their internships at different places such as the Cultural Center and clinics, to name a few. I am taking an intensive Wolof course at ISM because some of my friends speak Wolof and I wanted to learn. Every day I have 2 hours of the Wolof course and then 1 hour of conversation in Wolof, which is quite a change from my time here.

Over the past 6 weeks we have had one-hour Wolof courses once a week, yet I am very excited to learn more and practice with my host family. I have tried to use the little Wolof I know now when asking for taxis and every driver has been very helpful and content even if I cannot speak as much as I want to in Wolof. My family has shown me Wolof channels on TV and we have bonded over music in Wolof, most notably by Wally Seck, one of the most popular singers in Senegal.

Before arriving in Senegal, I only knew some basic phrases in Wolof from some friends during high school and I found it difficult to learn Wolof, especially with no one to talk to in Wolof. Learning Wolof is giving me a different perspective of Senegal, because I can learn more about traditions and society.

Until next week, allez les lions!

Student Blog