Dakar Dem Dikk

November 5, 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

“Dakar Dem Dikk” is the Dakar equivalent to OC Transpo in Ottawa. “Dem Dikk” means “go and come back” and I think that that sums up how I’m feeling with a month to go in my internship - like I just left and its already time to come back. This has been the fastest two months of my life! Every day has brought a new experience both positive and negative, but an experience I cherish nonetheless. Getting the opportunity to actually live in a foreign country as opposed to simply visiting has given me a completely different understanding of life here. I feel very lucky to have gotten this opportunity. Getting accustomed to a culture and a different way of life took me a little while but once it happened, my experience here got so much better.

While in Dakar, I have visited many beautiful place in and around the city including the Pink Lake, l’Île de Gorée, l’Île de Madeleine and I even got the chance to go scuba diving. Dakar has some stunning places to visit with views and scenery almost breathtaking enough to distract you from the Senegalese heat. I have made friends through contacts and at work who have contributed to making my visits to these beautiful landmarks even more memorable. These are relationships I will never forget.

However, as much as I appreciate the beauty of the places I’ve visited, some of my favourite moments have consisted of just simple day to day activities. For instance, I got the chance to play in a soccer game with my colleagues. The office got together to play and it was an experience I am so glad to have gotten. I am passionate about sport and once again, this game showed me how sport can bring people together regardless of language barriers and cultural differences. Another special moment for me was when my co-worker, Mariem, who I usually share a taxi with on the way home, brought me with her to see an apartment she was thinking of renting. This excursion gave me the opportunity to see a part of Dakar I would never have seen otherwise. It let me experience life in Dakar differently than I could have on my own. I walked around dirt roads and through hidden neighbourhoods that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It sounds like an insignificant moment but it left me feeling lucky. The chance to live in Dakar has let me experience what day to day life is like and its quite an amazing contrast to normal tourism. It is funny how sometimes it is the littlest things that have the biggest impacts.

As with all places in the world, there is kindness and there is animosity here. However, the animosity I have experienced has been heavily outweighed by the kindness. There is a welcoming aspect to Senegalese culture that cannot be ignored. A common response to thank you in Senegal is ‘On est ensemble’ meaning ‘we are together’ and it really feels like among the Senegalese population, this is the reality. There is a feeling of comradery and community that I have not experienced or witnessed in Canada. For instance, there was a celebration/fund raising activity for a religious celebration called Magal de Touba and the gathering for this happened right outside my house. There were hundreds of people gathered for the whole day. They ate together, prayed together and just spent time together. At the end of the night there was knock on my door and someone had brought a big plate of food for me and my housemates to eat with them. The invitation to come eat with people has been very common during the past two month. It is this kind of hospitality and generosity that I will remember and that will stick with me for life. It is a different mentality than at home and one that I hope I am able to bring with me upon my return.

I have more to say but this blog post is getting pretty long! This has been a fantastic 8 weeks and I’m looking forward to what the next 4 have to offer as well!

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