It has taken 2 months for me to earn the trust of this nearly two year old "niece" of mine, Janabo. I am the first PC Volunteer in Saare Meta.That leaves me wondering how long it is going to take the rest of the village to trust me or to even lose some of their fresh out of the oven curiosity of the well-meaning American, desperately trying to adjust to their lifestyle and culture.
This is where I sit for several hours of my daily routine, writing in my journal or to friends at home, reading the hopeful novels I’ve inherited from other volunteers, or studying this new language of mine, Pulaar. Common greetings that I get because of these actions are, “You’re writing?” and “You’re reading/studying (they are the same word)?”. Why, yes, I am. There is sometimes something beautiful in the simplicity of the language, which reflects how the majority of needs are still on a basic level. On a lighter note, this also makes for difficult translation of their favorite Senegalese star, Akon, who does not have the most romantic language. In translating only every few lines, the song meaning shifts enough to make the Pulaar words leaving my mouth comfortable.
Since early training, I have tried to translate several English sayings into Pulaar with limited success. My latest was when I told my “sister” that you can say “My nose is running” in English. With little amusement (as Im often showed when I expect something to be funny) she said you can’t say that, I have a cold. Hmmmf.