This week (June 3) at Chez Goshen the meal was made by Alysha, Leah, Erin, Noah, Josh, and Patrick. It included preparing vegetables and fruit, cooking rice, beans, and cookies in a hot kitchen, and improvising to make “Café Touba” (a sweet spiced Senegalese coffee) using an old sock for a filter. We sang together, looked at plans for service locations, discussed a recent assignment to interview small businesses, and enjoyed the meal. Afterwards there was time for conversation, games, and walks through the neighborhood.
For the past 4 ½ weeks our daily routine has included language study in the mornings and lectures or presentations about Sénégal and its culture in the afternoons.
This past Sunday we took a field trip that combined a variety of stops. We began our day at Keur Moussa, a Catholic monastery, where we caught the end of the morning mass that uses traditional harp-like instruments, called “kora,” in the service.
Touba is the center of Muridism, one of the four prominent Islamic brotherhoods in Sénégal. The founder of Muridism, Cheikh Amadou Bamba, lived in the 19th Century. The grand mosque in Touba is a replica of the one in Mecca and is the destination of an annual pilgrimage that, for followers of Bamba, replaces the required pilgrimage to Mecca. It is faced with marble from Portugal and Italy and is elaborately decorated inside.
We spent an afternoon participating in the process of tie dye and batik. We learned four different techniques that are commonly used – simple tie dye, stitching patterns, using gum arabic, applying wax using block stamping.
This week we visited the capital Dakar to see the center of the city which, during the French colonial period, was also the administrative center for all of French West Africa. We spent time in the Museum and walked to see the Catholic cathedral, the presidential palace, and parliament.
We took a one-day field trip to Gorée Island, located off the coast of Dakar. Gorée played a significant role historically as a trading center and as a strategic military location. It was occupied at different times by Portugese, Dutch, English, and eventually the French . It also was a part of the slave trade and serves today as an important memorial to that sad era.
Chez Goshen, which also serves as Ron & Sally Jo’s home, is where we meet once a week for singing, worship, reflection, and group debriefing. We also share a meal that is organized and prepared by students and have time to relax and have fun together.
At the end of our first week we took a 3-day field trip north to Saint-Louis, the capital of Sénégal during the French colonial period. It is located at the mouth of the Sénégal River that separates Sénégal from Mauritania. This significant source of water has a dramatic affect on both the ecology and agriculture near it.
Students got a basic introduction to Wolof, the language spoken by nearly everyone in Sènègal. Next week we will switch to French for our language classes. French is used by those who have a formal education and for official business. After class students interacted with neighbors and those near the school that we are using.