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Etiquette Tips from the City Girl in Senegal

October 21, 2010
Landscape of Casamance Region, southern Senegal
Image via Wikipedia

I am so proud of my goddaughter Alexsandra Mitchell.  She has always been an adventurous one and an ambitious one.  Always.  She was a world traveler by the time she graduated  from the illustrious Howard University earning a B.A. in African-American studies. She’s been to several countries in Africa, built homes in  New Orleans, and had done impressive research at the prestigious Schomburg Museum in Harlem.

She is now a fellow at the Senegalese-American Bilingual School in Dakkar, where she teaches English as a Second Language (ESL), and American Studies to elementary school students.  She will Skype with me several times a week and we laugh, and sometimes cry, but she always has terrific tales to tell.  Here she offers us some etiquette advice for Senegal.  Chip off the old block eh…

Etiquette Tips from the City Girl in Senegal

Tip #1- You MUST shake everyone’s hand when walking into a new space.  Greeting is a very important component of Senegalese society, and a sign of respect.

Tip #2– When eating Senegalese Style, (which means around the bowl communally), only use your right hand.  It is a major faux pas to use the left hand to shake hands, or eat in Senegal, because the left hand is often used to substitute toilet paper. Also, make sure to stay in your section of the platter, as it is very disrespectful to eat in someone else’s space.

Tip #3– If you are staying with a family for an extended amount of time,  when giving the you’re your belongings, make sure to take out the “your personal  things” as you must wash them yourself by hand.

Tip #4– Always carry your own toilet paper, or a pack of tissue.  Most public bathrooms will not have toilet paper, and some may not have a toilet seat.  Good exercise for strengthening the thighs.

Tip #5–  When staying with a host family:  bring a gift for each family member of the house.   Giving a gift is a great way to show your appreciation for the family welcoming you into their home.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    October 22, 2010 8:40 AM

    It is amazing to know how different our culture’s are and how similar we are as people. Although I have never traveled outside of the U.S I can say knowing some of this great when I do plan to travel. Alex you are doing great things!!! Keep it up and Keep us up~

    Best,

    Ashley

  2. April 1, 2012 4:20 PM

    Wonderful tips. Thank you.

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