Senegal: In the Shade of the Baobab Tree (Summer)

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About

You never know what might happen in Senegal. Enter a fortuneteller’s hut and ask a question about your future. Spin and dance with Sufi mystics. Discover fluent Spanish speakers on a mangrove island. Speak with a young man preparing to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to find work in Spain. This country is a collision of influences: French, Islamic, African, and increasingly, American and Chinese. Renowned for its hospitality and tolerance, Senegal makes room for all. We delve into pressing modern social issues while immersing ourselves in deep culture. As we sink into the rhythm of Senegalese life, we see that this place has much to teach us about community, global issues, and our own humanity.

We offer comprehensive, personal home visits so that we can answer your questions in person. One of our expert staff members will present on our program options and share stories from their own formative Where There Be Dragons program. To request a home visit in less than 2 minutes, fill out this form.

Highlights
  • Discover Senegal's rich artistic heritage, explore Sufi mysticism, and learn more about 'teranga,' Senegal's culture of giving.
  • Engage with gender issues and children’s rights, immigration and unemployment, desertification and climate change, public health and education.
  • Explore unique variations of West African Islam, Catholicism, and animism.
  • Spend a week with a family in an individual rural village homestay with very rugged amenities, another week in a semi-urban homestay, and stay in additional group homestays almost everywhere we go in Senegal.
  • Learn about how our Senegalese hosts serve the environment through reforestation efforts in mangrove swamps and chimpanzee habitats. Give back to communities by dispelling stereotypes and assisting your home-stay families with farm chores.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 6 reviews
  • Growth 9.7
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 8.3
  • Safety 8.8
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
Default avatar
Lilith
10/10

A Life-Changing Experience

Last summer I decided to spend a month in Senegal as a high school student going into sophomore year, and it was probably the best decision I have ever made. Going into it I had the wrong assumption that the trip was supposed to be a community service based trip, a trip where we help the people in developing countries. I was completely wrong. In Senegal we stayed in several different communities including home-stays, learned their local dialects, trekked, and discussed and reflected with the group as we experienced this culture so unique to us. In Senegal I experienced generosity and kindness that I have never seen in my own culture, I was surrounded with positive energy every day and words cannot describe how wonderful I felt. Senegalese people greet everyone they see, whether they are strangers or close relatives; they put others first before themselves. In the end, I realized that there are so much more things that I could learn from them rather than teach them, that our individual success isn't the most important thing, but rather love, kindness, and community.

The instructors and my peers were another reason why my trip was so great. Instructors and peers from different parts of the world really widened my perspectives. They also made the trip extremely fun.

Senegal was amazing. It changed my perspective of the world as well as my own life. I aspire to bring the sense of generosity and kindness that I felt in Senegal back in my own environment too.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Devan
9/10

An Amazing Trip

I absolutely loved this trip and would recommend it to everyone, no matter there travel experience. As a person who travels pretty frequently I kinda knew what I was getting myself into, on the travel side. But what I wasn't expecting was how much I would connect so fast with my peers traveling with me and the peers I met along the way. Senegalese are defiantly the most generous people alive, or at least from who I have met. Each family I stayed with took me in like I was one of their own and each person I met treated me like I have known them forever. I picked Senegal because I wanted somewhere where the people were friendly and they were scared to come up to me or try and make a conversation. During this trip you get to experience many different aspects of being a traveler. You get the tourist side when you first step foot into this new country. You get the insider side when living with a local for a week (or so). And you get the learning side. One of my favorite parts was learning about not only the country itself, but the people and their language. To this day I still know the greeting, although I don't remember the name of the language I am speaking. As I am now a junior and getting ready to apply to colleges I am taking what I learned from this trip and using it for what I want to major in. Not only did I get this amazing experience at that time, but I was able to bring back what I learned and use it as I head off into the world, into college, and even as an adult. I 100% recommend this trip to anyone who wants to not only travel around Senegal but get an insight to the way Senegalese live and much more. GO TO SENEGAL!!!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sam
10/10

Perspective Changing

My summer trip to Senegal was what I consider to be my first real experiential learning trip out of the country away from my family. This was unfamiliar territory so naturally I was a bit nervous, but more so excited for what this adventure had to offer.
Going in, I knew very little about the details of Senegalese culture and their rich heritage. I didn't want to know just yet. I was eager to go in with a clean slate and learn as much as I could, meet as many people as I can, and make the most of the summer before my senior year of high school.
The experiences I had given me a new global perspective that I treasure each day. It was profoundly valuable for me to be able to learn about a culture, through experiencing the culture. I gained an insight into the kindness, generosity, and open-mindedness of the locals which motivated me to be a better person in my own life. I witnessed many different lifestyles through Senegal that made me feel a little more fortunate for what I have; more importantly though, I learned how far simple gestures of kindness can go.
This trip didn't change my life, it changed my perspective on how I view the world, and those around me. I grew as a person and gained many skills through the Dragons curriculum. I wouldn't trade this experience, along with the memories I shared with my group, for anything in the world.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Emmanuel
10/10

We're Not So Different After All

Spending a month long cultural immersion trip in West Africa would be a trip expected to full of new experiences, peoples and rituals that one could only attempt to fathom. In my experience in the beautiful country of Senegal, I would have to say I didn't necessary find this misleading. To a small amount of sincere surprise, in my trip to Senegal, I gained comfort in the 'new' world my fellow Dragons explorers were submerged in.

In my time with my host family on the third week of the trip, I got the opportunity to connect more personally with the the way of life that the people in the island of Niodior thrived in. There I was welcomed to spend time with the family of Souleman, a boy who reminded me of myself when I was his age. Souleman is an attentive, sincere and fearless kid that pretty much had my back the entire time I stayed at his home. When I would socialize and chill with the older men of Souleman's family I felt as I was hanging around my cousins and uncles back home in Mexico. The conversations were relaxed and the night carried our conversation as we venture to talk about romance, future and religion. These kind of connections gave me the impression that the culture I so intrinsically wondered about was not so different than mine. The traditions, foods and tongues were different, but the people who lived this way are just human, as am I.

Learning what I did in the manner I did sprawled a sense of global citizenship in my identity. A gift that gives me the duty to travel more and more. I believe its a gift which I still carry to this day, engraved in the passport God has given me.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Patrick
9/10

Spiritual Ice Bath

At the time I committed to a 4-week Summer Program to Senegal I was ready to experience something other than North American and Western European culture. I ran from materialism and superficiality and when I looked down I was in Senegal with 8 like-minded people. Meeting people with such different beliefs and practices was essentially a mental/spiritual ice bath. I held hands with boys I met in streets and walked with a smile and received non of the venomous looks I would expect from home. Singing was encouraged and self-consciousness seemed not to exist.

The trip simply opened my eyes to the vastness of the world and all of the cultures and histories it (reluctantly) still holds. I am more interested in life and in people. I cannot imagine what it would be like to never have seen Senegal.

How can this program be improved?
I wish it were more of an individual experience. I forged amazingly tight bonds with the 8 people I went with, but I'm afraid that those bonds came at the cost of a bond with Senegal. I wish I had read more literature and poetry of the place and that there were less forced group activities.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Theo
10/10

Nights in the Casamance

Often, the problem with telling stories is one's inability to capture the feeling of the moment in words. We can say the facts, say there was an electricity in the air, but that electricity is lost in translation. This is why it has been so difficult for me to explain why one of the happiest times of my young life took place in the tiny village of Sare Cene, in the Casamance region of Senegal. Why? I am asked so often, and while my answer has been refined, it always falls short. Why? Well, every night, all the young people of the village and I danced well past the time when the moon reached its zenith, illuminated only by the light of a dying campfire, the moon, and the vast multitude of stars. Even with my prettiest language, I fail. I can not convey the energy, the joy, and the laughter. I can not describe the feeling, or the reason I am smiling so wide in all of my pictures. The best I can do is to refer them to Where There Be Dragons, and say "Why don't you find out for yourself."

How can this program be improved?
I would have loved for the trip to have been extended from four weeks to six weeks.
Yes, I recommend

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Dragons programs are authentic, rugged and profound learning adventures that expose the beautiful and complex realities of the countries in which we travel. Featuring extended itineraries, Dragons programs encourage deep immersion into strikingly...