For all the curious, non-Peace Corps folk out there, here’s some definitions for all these whacky acronyms and phrases I use in my blog posts:
PCT: Peace Corps Trainee. An individual in the PST training period before becoming an official Volunteer. Also referred to as stagiare in Peace Corps Senegal.
Stage: Training Group. The group each Trainee/Stagiare completes their training with.
PCV: Peace Corps Volunteer. The official title after one is sworn-in as a volunteer.
RPCV: Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. The official title for those PCVs who complete their two years of service (or are evacuated, in some circumstances).
PST: Pre-Service Training. The 2.5-3 month training period of intensive language, cultural, and technical skills each PCT receives before being sworn-in officially as a volunteer
5-Week-Challenge: The first five weeks at site after being sworn-in officially as a Volunteer during which the Peace Corps Senegal Country Director challenges/encourages volunteers to spend every night at their sites and none in a Regional House with other Volunteers in order to promote an initial successful immersion period at site.
CD: Country Director. The highest position in each Peace Corps Country’s Administration and the person who is responsible for overseeing the overall activities of Peace Corps in that country. Also a liaison with Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C.
APCD: Assistant Program Country Director. Each sector in Peace Corps Senegal is run by an APCD who oversees and specializes in the subject matter pertaining to that sector.
SED: Small Enterprise Development. My sector focusing on the development of small and medium size enterprises in Senegal. Also includes Eco-Tourism.
ET: Early Terminate. The process a volunteer or trainee goes through in order to end their service earlier than two years.
SeneGAD: Senegal Gender and Development. A sub-organization within Peace Corps Senegal focusing on Gender and Development issues. Check out their website for more information.
Six: The number six in French and the Dakar Regional House. My Regional House, and a short way to say the neighborhood where the house is, Liberte Six.
The American Club: A little taste of America and an American ex-pat hangout in Dakar. Where PCVs go for Americanesque food and drink, complete with pool, lounge area, and bar. Soon to be ex-PCV hangout when it closes down in December 2011.
Fukki Jaay: Second-hand clothing market in Wolof. Literally translates to… Sell 10? Will add on to this definition when I find out the origins of the term. Kind of like the Salvation Army or thrift stores back home, except on the street, where clothes are either neatly arranged for customer to browse or clumsily thrown on a mat for customers to dig through.
Tabaski: More commonly known as Eid-al-Adha in the Muslim World, Tabaski, as it is referred to in Senegal and many other West African countries, is the “Festival of Sacrifice,” celebrating Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael to Allah. Allah, however, intervened and provided Abraham with a ram in his son’s place instead. If there is anything to compare this holiday to in America, it would be Thanksgiving. Families typically buy several sheep, symbolic for the ram that Allah provided to Abraham, and share their feast with family and friends all day long. Yummm, sheep barbecue! I missed out on my first Tabaski in country due to some stomach issue… boo.
PCMO: Peace Corps Medical Officer. Every Peace Corps country has several PCMOs on hand 24/7, including certified doctors and nurses. Our PCMOs are awesome, supportive, and are available whenever we need them here in Senegal!
Cipro: Ciproflaxacin. A type of antibiotic and a miracle drug for destroying yucky bacteria in the tummy one may pick up (coughmecough) from eating a bit too much street food!
Inshallah: An arabic word meaning “god-willing” commonly used in Senegal and other Muslim countries when speaking of events unfolding in the future. As you come to learn living in a Muslim country and as Paul Theeroux points out in his book Dark Star Safari, however, Inshallah can mean many things: “At this early stage of my trip it was helpful to be reminded of the conflicting meanings of inshallah, which include ‘we hope’ and ‘don’t count on it.’”
(I stole this information below from this cool organization’s website that works with Moringa: http://www.treesforlife.org/)
“India’s ancient tradition of ayurveda says the leaves of the Moringa tree prevent 300 diseases. Modern science confirms the basic idea. Scientific research has proven that these humble leaves are in fact a powerhouse of nutritional value.
Gram for gram, Moringa leaves contain:
Unfortunately, even while science sings the praise of Moringa leaves, this vital information has not reached the people who need it most. Trees for Life is responding to this need, and you can help.”
AKA - The Miracle Plant.
JA: Or Junior Achievement, is a program originally started in the United States that Junior Achievement is “dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.” JA is an international organization and has adapted its programs for other countries, like Senegal, in partnership with organizations like Peace Corps. Learn more here. JA constitutes a big part of my work here in Senegal.
Popenguine: A beautiful little beach town located on the Petit-Côte (See below) just south of Dakar. Popenguine is a fellow PCV’s site and a frequent vacation hotspot for PCVs, with a large number of beachfront houses available to rent out for around $10 a night per person. Click here or here for more information. If you ever find yourself in Senegal, VISIT!
Petit-Côte: French for “Small Coast,” this is the region just south of the capital city of Senegal, Dakar, and boasts a number of tourist spots including Saly, Mbour, and Popenguine. Great vacation spot with its close proximity to Dakar.
Sea Plaza: a.k.a. a little slice of America in downtown(ish) Dakar. Sea Plaza is essentially a very large mall with stores you would typically find in a, well… a mall. PCVs frequent Sea Plaza, conveniently located next to the luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel in Dakar, for their delicious gelato, air-conditioning, and shopping options - not that we can really afford it?
Casino: Casino is also a little slice of America… it’s a grocery store, but not just any grocery store! With locations all throughout Dakar, Casino is probably one of the most reverse culture shock a Senegal PCV can get during their service - they even import Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream - SAY WHAT?
CED: Community Economic Development and the new name for my Peace Corps Sector. The former name SED, short for Small Enterprise Development, was discarded as our sector moves toward some restructuring of the program and overall project plan for the future - my new official job title: Community Economic Development Agent. Luckily, SED and CED don’t differ in terms of pronunciation and I can still call myself a CEDer without it being confusing…
CED Summit: A sector-wide summit held on bi-annual or annual bases during which all of us CEDer PCVs gather to share our projects, thoughts, best practices, and aspirations for the future of the CED sector and program.
All-Vol: Short for the West African All-Volunteer Conference. All-Vol is held annually and serves as a best practices sharing time for Senegal PCVs as well as PCVs from other West African countries like The Gambia, Mali, Guinea, and Cape Verde.
Install/Installing: The process of being “installed” or placed at your permanent site where you will carry out your two years of service as a PCV.
Site: This may seem obvious… the permanent location where a PCV is assigned to serve for his or her two years of service. For example, my Site is Bambey!
Bebe Stage: A nickname for my training group/stage - all 15 of us. We were the first group of CEDers to go through training by ourselves and without PCVs from other sectors, like Agriculture Volunteers - we know each other pretty well, I guess you could say…
Tostan: Tostan is an amazing and innovative developmental organization that works throughout Africa to “empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights.” Tostan takes a fantastic approach to development in that they encourage change without coming into a community and saying the all-too-familiar “This is wrong because…” or “You should do things this way because…” often heard in the developmental world. Rather, they encourage communities to take the initiative to institute change themselves. Tostan is also the Wolof word for “breakthrough” and was founded in Senegal. Check out their website for more information.
The Talibe: The Talibe of Senegal really deserve a post of their own and I will certainly dedicate more attention to them over the course of my service here in my blog, but to summarize, the Talibe are children who are students of Islam - Talibe leave their homes, sometimes at an extremely young age, for, typically, larger urban areas to study in daaras, or Islamic/Arabic schools that house Talibe until they complete their studies - around the age of 18-20. In Senegal, there are 150,000 begging children on the streets- the Talibe compose 90% of that number. Today, the Talibe have created serious cause for concern in Senegal, but the problem seems to have become ingrained in modern Senegalese culture - Read this article for more information.
W.A.I.S.T.: The West African Invitational Softball Tournament. W.A.I.S.T. is an annual, weekend-long event held every January or February in Dakar and organized by the U.S. Embassy. A number of organizations participate, including Peace Corps, and PCVs are often graciously housed by American expatriates willing to accept us into their homes for the weekend. Every region in Peace Corps Senegal forms a team and chooses a theme to dress up as - hotdogs, beer, and poor attempts at playing softball follow commence shortly thereafter - America at its best!
JICA: Japan International Cooperation Agency. Japan’s equivalent of the Peace Corps. In addition to PCVs in Senegal, there are also a large number of JICA Volunteers.
The Harmattan (Wind): I’ll give you the official definition first: “A Dry and Dusty West African trade wind. It blows south from the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea between the end of November and the middle of March… On its passage over desert it picks up fine dust articles.” AND THOSE DUST ARTICLES END UP EVERYWHERE, COVERING EVERYTHING IN MY ROOM! But seriously, in my own words, the Harmattan is a crazy force of nature that comes out of nowhere and sometimes puts Senegal, literally, in a dust storm for days… they do bring cold weather, however. Guess you can’t have it all with West African weather patterns!