Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lundi Science ("Monday Science" en Anglais)

NPR (National Public Radio) has "Science Friday" where Ira Glass covers the current topics of interest in the world of science for a broad range of listeners. Occasionally guests are brought on to comment on a current event or give some special insight into their field of expertise and there is a "Video Pick of the Week" showcasing an internet-posted clip, but one thing is for sure, Ira will peek your interest into science.

Velingara is the the departmental captial on the east side of the region of Kolda about 60 km (3 hr) to the north of my site, where I often go for internet, banking, and post office needs. During my monthly/bimonthly trips to Velingara a fellow-volunteer and friend of mine, Mike Goldman, and I have an amusing time at local restaurants and sandwich shops poking fun at each other in our mutual local language of Pulaar - calling one a hyena, while the other is said to eat beans and have a big stomach (both very common joking insults with the Pulaar ethnicity). The salesmen and clientele die laughing at these two Americans laying it on each other in a language that they had never even heard westerners speak. For a year this was common practice until finally we were struck with genius.

In the Fall of 2011 Mike was having trouble filling the biweekly Monday evening half-hour radio slot he was responsible for when it hit him like a bolt of lightening. A frequent listener of the Podcast "Science Friday," hosted by Ira Glass, he thought, "why not do the same for the people of the greater Velingara area?" Mike immediately sent me a text message informing me of his recent brainstorm, and "Lundi Science" was born.

For the last year, Michael Goldman and myself have been meeting every other week to discuss and determine the subject matter for each radio show, research the scientific topics, write a script discussing the topicS in an entertaining manner, and finally translate it into Pulaar for radio broadcast. Topics have ranged from sports nutrition and medicine to endangered species and gardening techniques. We had an episode on the extinction of Black Rhinoceros, a "Question of the Day" on whether the United States or Senegal produces more corn, and a "Photo of the Week" featuring the Whale Shark on our Facebook Group. There was even an episode where a guest volunteer, with a degree in Soils Science, came on to be interviewed for his thoughts on composting; his Senegalese name was Abdoulaye Diamanka. Since my Senegalese family name of Barry and his of Diamanka have a "cousin relationship" this opened the script up to even more jokes and tricks than Mike and I usually have. It's this comical entertaining "cousinage joking/making fun of" aspect of the culture that we highlight while also giving people of Senegal, especially villagers who may have never seen much of the region much less the country, a window into the world of science.

I wasn't sure of the success of the show until I had this exchange with my counterpart, Moussa Diallo:

Moussa: "Dienaba (my host mom) is very interested in when the next episode of 'Lundi Science' is airing."
Me: "Oh yeah, she really likes the show? I didn't know she listened to it."
Moussa: "Yeah she really likes it. Because you can learn about things you've never heard of before."

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