Sunday, January 22, 2012

Greetings from Pape Diop

Last night Pape invited me to dinner and to watch the Senegal vs Zambia game.  I came prepared w/ presents, but somehow we hadn't quite gotten precise about how many kids he and Assou have, and I was definitely short a few.  I knew about the two sets of twins, the first 24 years old (now off at university in Morocco and France) and the next set 12, but there were also a couple in between there and two little ones, the youngest Mustapha below with his mother.  Assou is a Spanish teacher and a midwife, but even by local standards Pape recognizes his family is a big one.  Two sets of twins helps, of course.

Once we'd finished dinner and the Senegalese defeat appeared obvious (really, about 10 minutes into the match) the three of us and his brother talked about the difficulties making a living here.  Pape has a Phd and and a post at the University, but he also teachers visiting students with US based exchange programs and a medical English language course.  His brother taught elementary school for 20 years, has written and produced a play, and still felt the need to go back to school for another degree.  Assou has degrees in Spanish education and midwifery.  Yet, Senegalese say, "A mouse has many holes" meaning you always need another source of income for security.  Given the current two month teachers' strike, they've been very glad for the extra jobs.  And as part of the strike, faculty seek housing near the university which was agreed upon but never done after the last conflict.  He lives on the north end of the peninsula in the distant suburbs but would like to be able to afford to live closer.

He also reminisced about his time in Minnesota, both the difficulties of leaving his family for that time and the remarkable place that he found at SPA.  He graciously recalled people offering winter clothes and invitations to dinner (Sushimita's cooking ranked highly here).  His first experience with a laptop stood out, too, when he had gotten pretty far on his syllabus and then couldn't find anything.  He recalled Cheryl Brockman asking, "Did you save anything?" and he could only respond, "What do you mean, 'save'?"  
Pape sporting retro SPA soccer jersey

Assou & Moustapha (2)

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