View of Our Village from a Rock Formation
Road from Our Quaint Village to the Big Town
Bambara Language Class
View of George's Compound
(KEY: Red Circle=Compound / Yellow Star=George's Shower / Yellow Line=the Road)
We are each living with separate host families (10 minute walk from one another). Although it is strange to live apart, it allows us to work on our language and forces us to integrate with our hosts as opposed to leaning on one another. The homestay phase lasts through the end of March, with brief periods of time in which we come back to the training center. We will also have the opportunity to visit our permanent sites
Our homestay families--Cunningham/Gamble role reversal.
I (Bintu) am living in the dugutigi's compound. (Dugutigi = Chief of the Village). The compound is big and so is my host family! People are always coming and going. It took days to figure out who was who in the family and I must admit that I still don't know who is who. The chief is elderly, my actual host father is the chief's son. I am named after my host mother. My host parents have 5 kids, two of which are married. The three youngest all all girls, ages 9-13ish.
While my nuclear family of 7 doesn't sound that big...the compound itself houses at least 5 family units and other individuals all connected in someway that is too complicated for me to understand based on my current language skill level. The compound is a rectangle with multiple dwellings/rooms that all open up to a very large shared courtyard.
As far as I can tell my host parents have one grandson. He is about 2 and everyone refers to him as "dugutigi." His actual name remains a mystery. He has the run of the house. For the first week I was there he threw baseball sized rocks at me (this was greated by laughs and little discipline). Belive me--life seems overwhelming when eating meals with a new family, speaking language at the proficiency of a two year old (on good days) and finding that the other two year old in the family was more interested in making me a target for rocks than being my friend. Little by little he has warmed up to me. We had a breakthrough moment a few days ago and have now hugged once.
OK, I will admit that Sherri's boys probably never threw large rocks at her houseguests while they were growing up, but I am getting a taste of life in a big busy household.