Our time in Dakar has been quite the cultural experience.
On our first day, we had shore leave - in groups of 6, everyone went out to explore the city. Many people headed over to Goree Island, a beautiful island off the coast of Dakar that was the largest slave trading centre in Africa from the 15th to 19th centuries.
That evening, we had a few guests aboard the ship. Eric Dadmun from the Peace Corps came to speak with us about his experiences serving and working in Senegal. He even taught us some of the local language Wolof that we could use with the youth the next day. We also had 4 members from the Canadian Embassy, Catherine, Martin, Caroline and Sandra, come on board and tell us about some of the work the Embassy is doing in Senegal.
The following morning we headed out to the SOS International Children's Village. SOS Villages work with children who either have no parents, or have been removed from their parent's custody and provide them with a home, house mother, education, healthcare and support. The day started by the children greeting us and sharing a song. We learned about some of the barriers the village has experienced and about their goals of providing a sense of community and family for the youth. We visited a few of the homes, where up to 15 children live with their house mom and care for one another. We spent some time doing activities with the kids, singing songs, doing art and playing sports. It was a wonderful morning learning about some of the great work that is being done to support youth in Senegal, and we had a lot of fun playing games and getting to know the children.
After lunch, we met up with our home stay families from the Student Youth Travel Organization (SYTO). After a quick get to know you, we headed off in pairs with our hosts for the evening. Everyone had such unique and different experiences with their host families- some went to the beach, some saw local live music, others toured the city and museums. When we were reunited, we had a lot of new stories and experiences to share with each other.
On our last night in Senegal, we all met up with our host families at a Saber Dance party in the suburb of Medina. There were percussionists on the street who welcomed us as they played and everyone in the area gathered around and danced. We learned a few new Senegalese dance moves to add to the Class Afloat Dance repertoire.
Next stop, Fernando!