Part of the getting ready process is deciding how much info to share (or not share) with my children ahead of time about what they might expect in Africa. There is a fine line between preparing them and scaring them. The photo above is from a different expat’s family and some of the food items they packed for their move. The photo below is a traditional Senegalese meal that is eaten with your right hand. Now I expect that our reality will live somewhere in between the two photos.
There will be things that we pack for the move, including food or household items that will just make things easier for everyone (One child could live on instant oatmeal). I also expect that we will have many opportunities to eat traditional Senegalese meals. I’m guessing that silverware can be used if that is the comfort level for the kids (or us). I don’t feel the need to replicate the exact eating or grocery experience for my family while we are there. That is one of many things I am looking forward to being able to experience in a different culture.
I am taking the opportunity when things come up in regular conversation to make connections for them.
child–“Wow there is a lot of trash along the highways. It must have been under the snow that melted.”
me–“You know not every where in the world has trash pick-up like we do here in Ohio. Some places don’t have trash pick-up at their house.”
child-“I can’t believe that guy just ran the red light.”
me–“Even though traffic laws are very important to obey, not everyone always does that, so you always have to be thinking about your safety when you are walking and not take the traffic rules for granted.”
On the other hand, I don’t like it when people word their comments to me in a way that implies that the children and I should be terribly frightened. I’m sure they aren’t thinking about it that way, but it does honk me off a little.
“You must be so trepidatious!” (We aren’t, excited-not nervous. And stop suggesting to my kids that there is anything of which they should be afraid.)
“Your poor mother must be beside herself!” (She’s not, but my mother-in-law is a different story. CNN effect)
“I hope you’ll be able to communicate from over there in some way.” (Yes-they have phone, internet, Facebook, parcel post, etc.)
One way I have been preparing is by reading blogs by people who currently live in Dakar or Senegal. I have been enjoying:
I know that there isn’t anything that is going to be able to completely prepare all of us for this move, but it IS going to be a positive experience for all and we are going to learn a ton that we would not be able to learn by moving to Indiana or even London.
It’s okay if the idea of moving to West Africa is completely beyond your wild imagination. Everyone has different comfort levels. We aren’t scared. We are excited and know that there are going to be highs and lows along the way, but so would there even if we never set a foot outside of Granville.