…more than just passing through

September 18, 2018 | Sophia, Specialization - International Development and Globalization, Uniterra, Sénégal, Conseil national de concertation et de coopération des ruraux (CNCR), Conseillère en égalité entre les hommes et les femmes

To start this post I would like to give a little bit of information about my internship. I am in Dakar, Senegal. I was sent with Uniterra and my host organization here is CECI. My partner organization is called the CNCR and I am working in EFH (Égalité femmes-hommes) or gender equality. Before leaving for this internship I had very little information. I was very stressed because I didn’t know what was going to happen once I arrived in Senegal. I didn’t know what my living arrangement was going to be, I didn’t know what I was going to eat in the first days here, I didn’t know where I’d be sleeping, etc.

If you’re having any of the same worries, let me help. When I arrived in Senegal I was greeted by a man from my host organization CECI. He had a sign and was easy to find. He brought me to his car where he had an information booklet for me and an itinerary for the next few days. He brought me a water bottle and a box of juice. He asked if I was hungry, I was not but if I had been, I’m sure he would have found me something to eat that night before going to sleep. From the airport he brought me to what I now call home. The volunteer house in Dakar has security outside 24/7 and a woman who is there during the day who cleans and fixes up the house. She will change your sheets once a week, she will help you get a taxi for a local price and she will greet you with a friendly smile every day. The house has a nice living room with a small TV and a couch. A dining room with a large table and chairs. There is a computer and internet. There is a big kitchen that is quite well stocked with cooking materials, although you will have to buy your own groceries. Luckily, there is a grocery store very close by. There are 4 bedrooms with air conditioning. One bedroom has a bathroom in it but otherwise, the other bathroom is just down the hall.

The next day, I was picked up by CECI again and brought to the CECI office. At the office I was introduced to the people who work there and who I had been put in contact with a few weeks prior. You will be able to put faces to the names in your email inbox. This day I brought in my contract and boarding passes. We went to get something to eat and then I was dropped off at home to rest until the next day. The CECI office is full of great resources and people who are very willing to help you.

The next day I got a tour of the city. I was driven around and shown the city quickly by car. The CECI staff helped me get a SIM card for my phone and they took me grocery shopping for the first time. You are able to find almost everything food wise in Dakar, except for potatoes and pork. They also showed me where the bank was so that I would be able to withdraw some money.

All of the questions and stress I had about life in Senegal subsided when I got there because CECI provides you with excellent, supportive and thoughtful contacts. It was hard for me and will probably be hard for you, but you need to learn to be okay with the unknown while doing this internship. There is very little set in stone and very little that won’t change at least once.

I am now going into my third week here in Dakar although it feels like I’ve been here much longer. Every day is filled with new experiences and things that I have to try to understand. Social interactions, language, dress code, religion, culture, the list could go on. There is so much more to think about in my day to day life than I’ve ever had to consider before. I have become much more aware of all of my actions and reactions. I had done a lot of travelling before but living in a foreign country is very different. You need to learn about the culture much more profoundly than if you were just passing through. This is an experience that will change me and from which I will undoubtedly grow so much. Just being here day to day teaches me so much. I can already tell that I am going to come home a much more independent and matured daughter, sister, student and friend.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.