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From agricultural villages to mangrove islands, explore contemporary issues of West Africa while delving into artistic and musical traditions in a culture renowned for its generosity and hospitality. As you walk down the street in Senegal people greet you with the word of peace and strangers invite you into their homes for a cup of tea.
The semester takes us from the French colonial outpost of Saint Louis, to the fast-paced capital of Dakar, all the way to a Sufi Islamic coastal village on a sandy stretch of beach. We stay with multiple local families and meet with leaders, traditional healers, regional development specialists, and other experts in West African history, geography, and philosophy. We study local languages, using our newfound language skills at the market, during our trek, and with the communities which welcome us.
Scholarships and college credit is available.
In some cases, students may be advised not to speak about their sexual orientations and/or gender identities with local contacts (such as homestay families, ISP mentors, language teachers, and guest speakers) due to safety concerns. Likewise, transgender and non-binary students may have to choose to present outwardly as male or female in certain contexts during the program. In other cases, “coming out” to some or all host community members may be a safe choice.
Learning Service is a holistic experience that combines an intimate and authentic engagement with the local community, the study of effective development, and the contribution to an established community-driven project. It is the process of living, working alongside, and humbly absorbing the culture of those being served while coordinating closely with project managers to understand the trajectory of the project, from inception to completion and beyond. It is an acknowledgment that often it is the volunteer who stands to gain as much or more from the work. And it is a commitment to making contributions that create positive impacts in the communities coupled with the humility to always listen and learn first.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Climb into horse-carts, public transport, fishing boats, or wander on foot as we travel throughout Senegal. Embark on a multi-day trek from village to village in the green hills of the Southeast and camp out on remote mangrove islands in the Delta.
- 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.
Where There Be Dragons Financial Aid & 529 Funds
Where There Be Dragons offers need-based financial aid to students that demonstrate reasonable financial need and are excited to engage with communities around the world.