Monday, June 22, 2015

Simularities and Differences: Grenada and Senegal

In some ways I dislike the idea of the topic of this post, but in other ways I have realized this is now I figure out my 'new normal' now. By taking what I know (or lived by for the last few years) and compare and contrast it to what I am seeing.

Strangely comparing was a 'regular' thing in Senegal for Senegalese to do to just about anything. At first I found it very annoying as things are 'better' or 'worse' they are different. Maybe you prefer one more than another, but being 'better' is only 'better' to you. I do not think I get my habit of comparing and contrasting from living in Senegal, but from stereotypes in general.

Stereotypes are a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing allows us to make efficient shortcuts and sense-making tools to understand the people and places around us more easily.

Without a due a few observations:

Praying with hands open and facing up: Interestingly enough this is done in a few of the churches I've attended and was the common way to pray in Senegal.

Non-verbal communication: Stoups (or what sounds like loudly sucking of your front teeth) is a sign of mostly annoyance but could be also shock, disbelief and amazement. Making a group wait to long in a queue would be taken very personally annoying and cause someone to do 'stoup' very loudly in a public setting in Grenada. Strangely more okay to be done in pubic (in general setting) than in a private (directed toward one person). I've heard grandparents becoming very upset by grandchildren doing it in their presence.

Clicking with the back of your throat (Idk if this has a name) is also done in both locations for a sign of simple agreement or understanding while not interrupting. (This is also apparently more on the East Coast than other parts of the island)

Transportation: Small passenger vans with sliding side doors wait till full and bring you along a route based on major towns. Public transportation has a cut off time at night to certain locations and doesn't run on Sunday. This was also is very similar to Senegal. Buses in Senegal and historically Grenada were even painted simularly.

Right Grenada circa 2009 and left Senegal present day
Head coverings: Many people cover their heads with scarves, hats, stocking caps in Grenada, while in Senegal head coverings for women were standard as is common in Muslim religion,  unless it was for a big event where extensions of hair would be added for a more elaborate braided hairstyle.

Dressing for everyone else: In Senegal it was told to me at some point that your dress reflects your relationship with everyone else. It's a sign of respect to your community, friends and family. In Grenada uniforms and dress are also very important and also show status and class. But I believe this idea of dressing for 'them' is also true here. It's not to be 'seen' but to dress appropriate for the people attending the event.

I find the most interesting difference in dress being between the 2 churches I've attended. Catholic and Pentecostal.  Catholics were very modest and having almost no print even evident in most of the outfits, while the Pentecostal was much more colorful and patterned. Leg and arms could be shown at either, but cleavage and exposed shoulders were almost none. Scarves and light jackets covered any straps and bodices that may have been too revealing.

Very very welcoming: My initial host families (CBT and at site) in Senegal did not fit this idea, but the other families that adopted me in Senegal very much did. I have never been so well cared for by people that hardly know me. Strangers take you in to their house and you are immediately part of their families. It's pretty cool. Senegal and Grenada both have this down. People here are really quite fun and welcoming and are very tolerant of 'new' people. Even my land-lady/host mom's Catholic church 'claims' me as I've attended a few times and very much enjoy chatting with the congregation.
Catholic Church in Grenada

Overall, I've been very happy and living here has been 'easy' on many accounts and this I'm very grateful and blessed.

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