Jerejef

Over the past few months, I have fielded many questions about my time in Senegal. What was it like? Did I have a favorite part of the trip? How was my experience at the school? What did I learn? What was the food like? And many more. I have found it difficult to answer these in a way that can fully encapsulate Senegal and all of my experiences there. How do you describe a place to someone in a minute or two? How do I succinctly share what I learned about this special place while avoiding only giving one story? If you have never seen Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk entitled The Danger of a Single Story, I highly recommend watching it. It is a great reminder to avoid describing a place or person in only one way or dimension. While I have enjoyed sharing my experiences, I hope that I am able to portray Senegal and all of its nuances and angles.

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Sights of Senegal

On our final drive to the airport I was staring out the window just trying to take it all in. The sights that had been new to me at the beginning of the adventure, had become a normal part of my everyday experiences.  There was so much to experience visually that I found myself keeping my camera out at all times, even when riding in a car or bus, because I was trying to capture everything new and fascinating to me. While the following sights are in no way a complete list of the wonderful and exciting things that continuously caught my eye, I will always remember these sights of Senegal!

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Mister Mister

I feel so fortunate to be paired with Moustapha Fall, a dynamic and engaging English teacher who has done so much work to make our visit special.  It is clear that everyone in the village of Diass respects him and enjoys being in his company. Upon our arrival, we learned that his students have a nickname for him. They call him “Mister Mister” because they say that he is a “Mr.” to them since he is their teacher but he is also a “Mr.” to the teachers at the school because he teaches them in so many ways, especially when it comes to English and technology. This also explains why the teachers call him “Tech Teacher”.  Moustapha has gone out of his way to make us feel welcome and loved by the entire community of Diass and we cannot thank him enough. Here are some pictures of Mister Mister in action.

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The Land of Teranga

I am from the south where we are known for our “southern hospitality” but upon arriving in Senegal I have now truly entered into “The Land of Hospitality”. The Senegalese pride themselves on their teranga  and everywhere I have been so far, this place lives up to the nickname, which literally means hospitality. What I love is that whenever I have said thank you to someone for their generosity, they respond with one word…teranga. Here are some examples from my short time here so far.

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Senegalese Time

A few weeks ago, my host teacher got in touch to arrange transportation for the week that we will be in Diass. We had been told by IREX to rely on taxis or teachers from the school to get us around. When I shared this information with Moustapha, he replied that he does not have a license and if we wanted to actually make it to any of our appointments, we should not rely on taxis because “Senegalese people are not as timely as Americans and will always be late for an agreed appointment.”

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Getting Ready

Getting ready for a long international trip can be a huge task in general, but add in creating lesson plans for over two weeks of AP classes leading up to the exam, coordinating ongoing collaborative projects between my students and Senegalese students, collecting resources for the school and students in Senegal, planning what I will teach while I am there, trying to leave things somewhat in order around my house for my wonderful husband is who flying solo with the kids during a busy time... and it has been a busy few days! However, in the midst of all that has been going on, there are many people who have offered to help and who have shared in the excitement of this adventure.

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Operation Senegal

From the moment I found out that I would be spending a week at Lycee de Diass in MBour, Senegal I began planning ways that students at my school in TN could connect and collaborate with students in Senegal. Many teachers, across all grade levels and subjects, got involved and I am pretty amazed at what was accomplished in just 3 weeks. Here are some examples of the activities….and of what is in my suitcase.

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What Makes a Great Conference?

In February, I attended a conference on global education with teachers and administrators from across the country. I had an amazing time and left feeling re-energized and excited to be a teacher. Why does some professional development leave you feeling drained, overwhelmed, or frustrated while some leaves you feeling inspired and rejuvenated? What is the key to the latter? What is that magic formula for successful education and teaching conferences?

As I think back to my weekend at the Global Education Symposium, here are some key features that stand out. The next time you are considering a conference, check to make sure that is has these 3 things!

 

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Why Start a Blog?

I never imagined that I would be a blogger. For years I have read blogs, benefited from their insight and wisdom and laughed at their humor, but never thought that I would have my own. While I do not enjoy self-promotion and generally spend more time in the social media world reading what others post rather than posting myself, I am about to dive right into this thing called blogging. Here is what led me to start a blog.

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