Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Shared a Beer with the Governor!

Tuesday November 24 was a big Rotary soiree. Our district governor made a visit to our club and it was like meeting the president. In the district there are about 108 clubs and 8 clubs in Senegal. The district consists of 14 countries in North West Africa. The evening was spent at Hotel Dior, the hotel that our president owns (and its conveniently named after her). The hotel is on the southern part of the peninsula and is on the beach. It is beautiful. It is covered in African art and murals on the walls.  
There are four other rotary scholars here: Vanessa (23, Florida), Elizabeth (23, Illinois), Nicolas, Cheryl (23 North Carolina). We all attended but tried to mix ourselves up among the Saint Louis Rotarians, the Dakar Rotarians who traveled with the governor, and the Belgium Rotarians that have a partnership with St.louis in helping with the development of a Peul village since 2006. I ended up between Gilles a Saint Louisian French guy and the Belgium Patrick and can speak English, French and Dutch. 
The Governor and our president talked for a bit, I think organizing things and doing some official business. Then after twenty minutes of that we began the meeting. The governor’s assistant introduced him by listing off ALL the things he has ever done in his life. Then the governor spoke about:
• Rotary’s involvement with the eradication of polio
• The importance of scholars like us!
• The 2009-2010 theme “Le future de rotary est entre vos mains”
• Health, Hunger, the need for mosquito nets here
• How the clubs need to “Touche les besoins de la communaut√©”
• How clubs need to finish their projects or make sure they are continued to make a lasting impact.

Then the evening was open to questions and someone asked why don’t their district send scholars or give scholarships. He answered that there clubs don’t have enough money and when they did send scholars they did not return! Then another man interjected and told the room that is why it is important to contribute to the foundations, that our (the scholars) clubs are strong and work hard to send us, that our lapel pins are not medals of honor, but they should remind us of the goals of rotary.

After the discussion the governor and our president was interviewed by a news crew and all the others headed to the bar. We scholars sat at the bar and munched on bread and sipped wine. It was about 8:30 and we had been there since 6 and hunger had definitely sat in by then. All of a sudden the governor was next to me and he asked me what beer is good. I nervously responded “Gazelle c’est le meilleur biere ici” He ordered one, took a glassful, and then gave the rest to me. This is right after a Belgium Rotarian filled up my glass for the second time. We all returned to the meeting room to eat a three course meal that consisted of huge lobster, potatoes, vegetables, lamb, cheese, bread, cake and ice cream (which was amazing). Throughout the whole night Patrick(Belgium Rotarian) and Gilles(French St Louis Rotarian) were cracking jokes the whole time! They had a lovely conversation about how I should eat meat. We talked about American blues, of which apparently Vanessa and I know nothing about. And we agreed to have a music sharing/playing night. They kept refilling my wine glass and I still had the governor’s beer in front of me! They made sure we used our French though, which was good, and because they weren’t being serious (the wine helped also) Vanessa and I were very comfortable to talk with them. Gilles tried to fill my glass for the 3rd time but I told the little French man “non merci” and he sadly responded “Pas de viande, et pas de vin!!”(no meat, no wine!) and began to pretend like he was crying! Like I disappointed him or I don’t meet his requirements for a woman. Whatever it was it was hilarious. Then we took pictures, at this Gilles began to kiss me on the head while Patrick sang “…And they call it puppy love…” Our side of the table was pretty wild…I hope the governor wasn’t disappointed.

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