Learning All Day long…

Hi friend,
Sorry we couldn’t get connected on Skype last night. Please give me a window this week or weekend where we can try again. 🙂 There was a big thunderstorm here right before that time. It was fascinating to watch, but it did knock out our wireless for several hours. I’ve never actually seen such clear examples of cumulonimbus clouds as I could see with that storm. It was wild!

Kids had a great first day at school. I’m loving my job and loving the school and I’m not even in my official office yet. The last couple offices are being finished this week.

It sounds braggy, but I found out yesterday that the school is going to send me to an IB (International Baccalaureate) training in early October in Madrid so I can better support the school in its candidacy phase. In Spain! I’m laughing as I type this. REALLY? You want to pay me to attend (as part of my job) and pay for me to attend a conference in Spain? Then later in the year to South Africa? This is my job? ha ha ha ha ha—it doesn’t seems real! Remember when I used to be allotted a $100 a year for PD and anything over that had to be paid for by me? I used to beg my original building secretary (keeper of the money) to let me use someone else’s money if they weren’t going to use it. The answer was always a definitive “No!” I think the teachers were still given about a $100 even last year! I’m asking myself why I didn’t think about this move a long time ago? Oh yeah-my husband, family, and friends.

Speaking of family, my mom is doing a great job of using FaceTime on her iPad to keep in contact a couple times a week. The kids and I are able to talk to Guy everyday, sometimes more than once. So much better than when I was in Luxembourg-then I was allowed to call my parents collect (remember what that is?) one time a month. FaceTime is great because it’s not as choppy as Skype can be and it rings me on my laptop or iTouch. Simon has even been able to talk to one of his friends in the states before their school day started before our school year started this week. Such a good use of technology!

The kids learning did not stop with school yesterday. Last night we drove our housekeeper home, partly because of the rainstorm and because of the fact that she had stayed 2 hours past her ending time to help with some house things for me. Now THAT experience was really Africa. I was planning on driving her to her bus stop so she wouldn’t be soaked but the kids wanted to come along and as soon we were in the car, they were very insistent that we drive her all the way home. It was kind of an “Oh crap!” kind of moments as I could imagine getting lost on the way home, getting stuck in mud, or having an extremely long drive both ways. I couldn’t really think of a good reason why we shouldn’t drive her all the way home. I would certainly have driven someone home in Granville. I’m still reconciling myself with the whole ‘housekeeper’ thing.

We drove down this one ‘highway’ (it was 2 lanes each direction, but the cars and busses make their own third lane in the middle by straddling the line) to the very tip of South Dakar where her “apartment” is. The traffic was slow and insane. About 2 miles from her home, the road turned into 2 lanes and it was only very rutted sand. It had been washed away by the weekend’s rainstorms in many places and had potholes. The word pothole does not do justice to the size of many of the holes. The 2 lane road involved driving alternately on either side of the road to avoid as many holes as possible, something I have surprising adapted to quite easily. Along this challenging, sandy road, the ocean is now visible again out the driver’s window and there are people all over-playing soccer, exercising, etc. It was a really interesting contrast of the beautiful ocean and the other signs of obvious poverty. If it had been the States, all that land would have been gobbled up without a view in site.

Martine lives in a 2 room apartment with 4 other people-her husband, her 2 sons, and a grandnephew that she cares for (his name is Justin-he’s 7 and he comes with her to our house everyday when she is working). He is a lovely boy and his school does not start until October.

Martine invited us into her apartment which was on the third floor. You had to go up six narrow, and unlit flights of stairs to get there. You had to walk through someone else’s living space to get to their door. There were 2 padded ‘benches’, a ‘twin bed’, an old TV that was mostly yellow static with some flickering pictures, a small stove, a small frig and a curtain between that room and her bedroom that held a queen sized bed and wardrobe. (On top of her wardrobe was a box with a 3 foot Christmas tree stored in it as they are Catholic, unlike the majority of the people who are Senegalese). There was a curtain between the main room and their balcony that overlooked the street and their neighbors’ homes.

I asked Justin, “Ou est ton lit?” (Where is your bed?) and he showed me that he shares the twin with the other 2 boys. He is the sweetest, most well-behaved boy I’ve ever seen and I could eat him with a spoon. He loves to play with Simon and the dogs. He is amazing at soccer and was thrilled when we gave him some markers of his own with paper to use. Part of the salary I pay our housekeeper includes the tuition for Justin and her youngest son, Malik, (20) to attend school. We will also will buy their school supplies, something that is hard for most local families to be able to afford. The other small part of her salary is that we give her 200 ($.40) cfa a day to buy a baguette. She shares it with Justin. I try to get her to eat some of our fruit or at least give him some of it, but she will not. Justin will eat a banana if Simon gives it to him and they both sit down to eat. I think that makes it somehow different when its a friend offering hospitality in that way. Simon is happy to share every snack or drink he has with Justin and they have a nice friendship, even though they can’t communicate verbally.

We now have a day guard (they call them guardians) who works at the house from 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. 7 days a week. We pay him what is considered a generous salary here, but what we would consider a drop in the bucket back home. I’ve started giving him either 200 cfa for bread or warming up a baguette for him and giving it to him as we leave for the day. He walks the dogs for us when he arrives and other times as well. He washes the car each morning when he arrives, waters the yard, and serves as a ‘gardener’. The rest of the time, he is just out front keeping an eye on everything, like a doorman would in a big city. I’ll tell you more about the house and the outside another time I write.

Love you and hope you and family are well. Hi to friends and family 🙂 I miss you very much!


Senegal Mailing Address: International School of Dakar, attn:

B.P. 5136 Dakar, Senegal


About bestbookihavenotread

Kristine has been in education since 1993. She taught fourth grade in Ohio from 1993 - 2008. She has been a Curriculum Coordinator for four years. She is relocating to Dakar, Senegal to be the Director of Curriculum for the International School of Dakar in August 2012.
This entry was posted in Africa, Dakar, expat, International School of Dakar, Senegal and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Learning All Day long…

  1. Holly Michael says:

    Wow, I knew Senegal was extremely poor, but $0.40 a day? Can you give them a raise?

    • bestbookihavenotread says:

      The $.40 a day is just for the bread. They also earn a salary that is paid at the end of the month. We would still consider it not very much, but they are considered ‘highly paid’ as they have experience with their jobs. There is a lot of unemployment. I feel ridiculous having a full-time housekeeper and guardians, but it is what is expected from expats as it provided jobs for local people.

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