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 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.
- 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.