Teranga Newsletter blog
CIEE Dakar, Senegal - FALL2016
The semester began with passion and the students began to get acquainted; after arriving they went straight to their new homes. Orientation began so they could become familiar with Senegalese culture and be able to navigate within it.
During orientation they had a Welcome Session, a Meet & Greet one another, and they were given a Program Overview. A lot of topics were covered so that the students would be well prepared. Examples are medical, housing, the transportation system, Bystander Intervention, Safety & Security, Internship & Community Service programs, gender and diversity, cultural habits and a downtown sortie. Cultural pals were invited to help them get a sense of real situations in Senegal.
With their cultural pals and guide they all went to Goree island. Here is on the ferry at sea from the main harbor of Dakar to the island; it takes about 20 minutes to get to Goree. The island of Gorée lies off the coast of Senegal, opposite Dakar. From the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast. Ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, its architecture is characterized by the contrast between the grim slave-quarters and the elegant houses of the slave traders. Today it continues to serve as a reminder of human exploitation and as a sanctuary for reconciliation. The House of Slaves Entering the History Museum to learn about the Ile de Goree’s role in Senegalese history.
The brightly colored buildings and flowers near the fort.
Students experienced Tabaski as well in Senegal and here they have made their own outfits for the event. Tabaski in Senegal. Eid al-Adha is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Muslims around the world observe this event.
Here are what students have said so far about their first few weeks in Senegal:
"I may speak French decently (and it is certainly improving rapidement) but I don’t know Wolof, which is proving to be the more important skill for interactions with people I see on the street or in shops. I have learned that greeting is incredibly important in Senegalese culture, and so I have now dedicated myself to mastering my greeting skills in Wolof, as I may be feeling that I am struggling in first impressions because I have yet to master the many greetings. To be seen whether that makes things feel easier as I go along!"
"On the whole, I have been pushed these first weeks to remain open both to cultural and individual differences I have encountered here and the ways that despite my study of Senegalese culture, this country, or even Dakar, is not a monolith. I don't expect the challenges to stop anytime soon, and I am constantly recreating my idea of what it could feel like, and also may never feel like, to be adjusted to this place while the whole time recognizing that's exactly the kind of tension I came here to investigate."
"I don't know how she did it but Gamo matched me perfectly with my family. But maybe I just say that because I have the best family. I feel really close to them already. My mom came into my room the other day, looked around, and said, "you call this a room? You are messy." She grabbed a broom and started sweeping, murmuring about how my friends were going to come over and talk about how she has a messy daughter."