Elke Schmidt

Senegal, Morocco, & Indonesia Instructor

B.A. Global Studies (Culture, Power, Place in Africa) and French Studies, University of Minnesota
Certificate in TESL, University of Minnesota

Elke’s career as an experiential educator evolved from her own experiences as a student of foreign languages and new cultures. She was encouraged to explore other cultures from a young age by attending a French Immersion elementary school. In high school, she discovered the joys of living abroad as an exchange student in Austria. As an undergraduate, Elke studied abroad in Senegal, where she experienced life in homestays in the hectic capital as well as in the rural regions. After first studying in Dakar, she moved to a small town near the Gambia to work with a local education organization. She also conducted independent research on the Senegalese formal education system and the particular challenges in rural areas.

Later, Elke moved to Washington, D.C. to work with a Senegalese international organization working in non-formal education and human rights. She later transferred from the organization’s D.C. offices to their headquarters in Dakar, where she had the chance to meet her first Dragons students. Since joining Dragons in 2013, Elke has served as the On-Site Director for Princeton University’s Senegal Bridge Year Program from 2013-2017. She has also led partnership courses, summer courses, and other programming in Senegal (into The Gambia and Guinea), Morocco, and Indonesia.

Elke is a certified Wilderness First Responder. She speaks English, French, German, and Wolof. She finds joy in composing Wolof tongue twisters, searching out unique textiles, cuddling with her two Senegalese cats, playing cribbage, conducting fusion baking experiments, sailing, and getting her daily dose of spontaneity.