American Patriotism, Every Day In Senegal

In celebration of the 4th of July, I have compiled somethings that and others do in Senegal to ‘feel more American’ or to remind ourselves of our heritage. Really, we just do these things to feel ‘normal’. Either in our villages or outside our villages in the regional houses

Things we do to feel American
In site:
Women – wearing pants even though everyone says they are ugly or bad to wear
Making our own food – some of us have propane in our rooms and we cook ‘normal’ foods, as opposed to eating rice and oil 2-3 times a day
Eating fried egg sandwiches – comfort food, available in Senegal
Wearing shorts in your room (NEVER outside or visibly)
Listening to American music to drown out the mosque or when doing laundry
Exercise! It’s not a thing here.
Yoga – they ask me if I’m praying and comment that our prayers look painful
Wearing makeup, just to feel pretty sometimes
Resting, napping – even though most Senegalese do this too, for some reason they always point out that the American is tired/sleeping again
Not fasting for Ramadan, Alhamdullilah, however, some volunteers do it for solidarity or for the experience. It’s nice that we don’t have to, though.
Shaving your legs occasionally
Watching movies and TV shows in your room (even though it is stifling hot sometimes, it is worth it) I usually couple this with eating care package snacks
Eating peanut butter (The Senegalese find this so strange… They only use PB for a sauce to put over rice)
Wearing a watch/keeping track of the time – The Senegalese don’t often wear watches and keep track of time based on prayer times or using their cell phones. If you are wearing a watch, you will often be asked the time.
Teach kids funny things to say in English
Teaching kids/everyone English songs – this is really great when you later hear them break out into Jingle Bells or Twinkle Twinkle randomly
Decorating your room more American-style, having book shelves, tables, and chairs
Celebrating American holidays (Easter, Christmas, etc)
Showing people photos of home
Speaking English on the phone
Painting your nails

Outside of site/at our regional houses. Honestly, everything we do at these houses would be either terrifying or appalling to the Senegalese, all of our houses have high walls and fences to keep away curious eyes:
Eating Pringles – available at all Western boutiques
Wearing WHATEVER you want, literally
Drinking a Coke (something I would have never done in America)
Some people smoke
Read Glamour/InTouch/gossip magazines
Board games, card games, drinking games
Cooking American foods with friends, making big dinners or fun baked goods, all kinds of things that we can’t get at site
Watching movies on the projector
Real coffee
Beer
Kiddie pools/benior baths, anything to stay cool
Dance parties
Refrigerators! And all the refreshment that comes with refrigerators during the 110-degree average days
Swimming in the river (either in Ndioum or Kedougou)

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