Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Values Workshop
(snapshot of life in Senegal)

- At the beginning of the session, our instructor asked to list traditional US values. This page in our workbook, titled “American Values” followed by a vast blank space, was unintentionally entertaining in itself.

“Money equals power equals God!” declared one young student, her Caucasian cornrows flying around her enraged pink face. She expounded upon the evils of capitalism.

“Interesting,” our instructor mused.

Later, as we formally introduced ourselves, we learned about the Ivy League university sponsoring her semester abroad.

Once taught the words for traditional Senegalese values, we were encouraged to discuss examples.

Jom – Work ethic, being able to bear pain and suffering without complaint. Here a staff meeting came to mind. When we mentioned malfunctioning electrical outlets in our apartments, Madame laughed that we needed a bit more jom (“This is not the United States. We don’t have Home Depot here.”) and threatened to stick us in a bush village for a couple days. I don’t think she was kidding.

Kersa/Fayda – Respect for others coupled with shrewdness in finding, and taking advantage of, opportunity. The cute child will curtsey and shake your hand. Then she’ll ask you for money. Because you can’t count on jom all the time.

Read more out of Africa.


At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a very good course - highly recommended if you are going to live in West Africa any length of time.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous bossman said...

Values...If there was something that is missing in America that would be them. Unless ofcouse it is contadictory we are good at that.

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous katjjames said...

The thing I find interesting, and America is not exception...we have these values but any time someone can look cute and make some money off of it...all the better. Is money for little effort a global value or neccesity


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