West Africa Semester

Rhythms of Senegal

A 3-Month Gap Year Program

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Duration
83 Days
Description

From peanut farming villages to mangrove islands, explore contemporary issues of West Africa while delving into the arts in a culture renowned for its generosity and hospitality.

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2018


Spring Availability

closed

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2018


Fall Availability

open

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

17-22

Spring Begins In

3 Weeks

Fall Begins In

34 Weeks

Land Cost

$12,910


Estimated Flight Cost

$2,310

Dakar

Kolda

Niodior

Kedougou

Thies

Saint Louis

Touba

Program Overview

As you walk down the street in Senegal, people greet you with the word peace and strangers invite you into their homes for a cup of tea.


Senegal is a country of contrasts where new development occurs beside centuries-old traditions. The Muslim call to prayer sounds five times a day when hundreds of people stop to worship on the city’s sidewalks. Senegal’s famous hospitality, called “teranga,” is in the air from the moment we set foot on the sandy streets of Dakar.

The semester takes us from the French colonial outpost of St. Louis, to the fast-paced capital of Dakar, all the way to a Sufi Islamic coastal village on a white sand stretch of beach. Students on this semester stay almost exclusively with local families and have the opportunity to meet with leaders, traditional healers, regional development specialists, and other experts in West African history, geography, and philosophy. Students study Wolof and French throughout the semester, using their new language skills at the market, in service work, and with the community.

Casting off in a pirogue (a Senegalese fishing boat), the group sails…

Senegal is a country of contrasts where new development occurs beside centuries-old traditions. The Muslim call to prayer sounds five times a day when hundreds of people stop to worship on the city’s sidewalks. Senegal’s famous hospitality, called “teranga,” is in the air from the moment we set foot on the sandy streets of Dakar.

The semester takes us from the French colonial outpost of St. Louis, to the fast-paced capital of Dakar, all the way to a Sufi Islamic coastal village on a white sand stretch of beach. Students on this semester stay almost exclusively with local families and have the opportunity to meet with leaders, traditional healers, regional development specialists, and other experts in West African history, geography, and philosophy. Students study Wolof and French throughout the semester, using their new language skills at the market, in service work, and with the community.

Casting off in a pirogue (a Senegalese fishing boat), the group sails to an island community in the where students are welcomed by host families. We serve alongside a local women’s cooperative to replant mangroves and camp on nearby islands, catching fish for our dinner and keeping our eyes peeled for the dolphins, manatees, and flamingos that call this unique environment home.

Returning to the mainland, our feet carry us to breathtaking waterfalls and plateaus, where we speak with local environmental activists and explore the home of some of West Africa’s last chimpanzees. We confront pressing development issues including health, unemployment, gender, human rights, and education through a series of NGO visits and mentored study. We conclude in an artist enclave perched on rocky cliffs above the sea, leaving with stories we carry with us, and continue to tell, for years to come.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

3/5
Comparative Religion

Learn about Sufi Islam and the unique Islamic brotherhoods of Senegal, meet Catholic communities, and get an introduction to animism through visiting a local fortune-teller.

5/5
Development Studies

Investigate issues of immigration and unemployment, gender issues and children’s rights, abolition of female genital cutting, desertification, land-use, climate change, urban and rural healthcare, colonization, and education.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Explore the history of migrant cattle-herders, Islamic traders, and French colonial explorers on Senegal’s shores while discussing the implications of undocumented immigration in the dangerous canoe journey to Europe and North Africa. Confront the spectre of slavery in a visit to a UNESCO World Heritage site that was once the largest slave trading center on the African coast.

5/5
Home Stay

Spend about 6 weeks total in either one or two very remote villages, two weeks in the urban areas of Kolda or Thies, and stay as a group in other communities along the way.

5/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Choose from a wide range of possible topics for mentored study during time in homestays such as drumming, West African dance, storytelling, gender issues, visual arts, traditional medicine, politics, batik, jewelry making, and more.

3/5
Language Study

Learn to speak Wolof through daily classes in the Delta, practice French through immersion and supplementary lessons, and try out your Pulaar in southern Senegal through experiential language immersion with home-stay families, trekking guides and Senegalese friends.

2/5
Learning Service

Work alongside communities to learn about how they serve their environment through reforestation and explore the meaning of reciprocity by participating in community activities during home-stays.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Climb into horse-carts, public transport, fishing boats, or wander on foot as we travel throughout Senegal and stay in rural communities with little electricity or running water.

2/5
Trekking

Embark on a week-long trek from village to village in the green hills of the Southeast and camp out on remote mangrove islands in the Delta.

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