Teranga Newsletter blog - CIEE Study Center, Dakar Senegal
I - Highlights of Students’ involvement in their Internships and community engagement.
A large portion of the Dakar CIEE program consists of internships, volunteering and community engagement. Students are involved with this experiential work throughout their semester in Dakar. The Internship Coordinator in charge of placing students at a large variety of organizations and institutions. Students typically visit their placement sites once or twice per week.
Some students for their community engagement volunteer at a pottery school for kids with disabilities called Colombin. They painted a mural with the students to make the space enjoyable and easy to work at.
Here at Colombin, CIEE students improve the students and staff morale and effectiveness where they intern by bringing energy and reducing the workload and espacially helping the association grow.
A student said this: “I volunteer at an amazing place called Colombin, a pottery school for kids with disabilities. This week we painted a mural. It was sooo fun and I can't express how blessed I am to get to work with such wonderful people (CIEE students and Senegalese folks alike!!)”
Students visiting schools with their intership institution but also some class field trips. Students provide new ideas, creativity, and warmth to the institutions they intern. They not only impact the children like in this picture but the staff also learns a lot from them.
A student said this: "Our Education and Culture class came to visit the school and hear Monsieur Mbaye-Amoul yakar's story."
A word from a student: "We went to visit an elementary school. It kind of made me sad seeing as how some classrooms don't have books and some don't even have teachers. The students will just sit around all day. But one highlight was that they bum rushed me and the other students who came like we were celebrities or something. It made me happy that they were so excited to meet Americans."
II - STUDENTS' IMMERSION INTO THE CULTURE
Besides the academic life that students experience in classrooms to acquire new knowledge, they also totally immerse themselves into the Senegalese cultural and everyday life in Dakar and within their host families.
When there is a party or celebration organized by host families, cultural pals, friends or who else that can enhance students' learning curiosity and gain a deeper understanding of the culture, CIEE encourages students to get involved. A perfect example is when Muslims celebrated the Eid, many of the students made an outfit and mingled in the community to celebrate like and with them.
During the third day of qualification of the soccer game for African Cup of Nations (CAN) , students were not left out. They did not want to stay home to watch it on television. They had nothing to worry about because CIEE with the help of cultural pals organized a ride to the stadium to enable students to experience these moments live. III - FACULTY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Language teachers
To enable students to have a good semester and be able to learn with ease, the academic coordinator organized a workshop session for faculty development to better help students meet their academic needs. The workshop took place on October 29th and was a forum of exchanges between Language Teachers in one hand, and all CIEE trainers in the other hand. The objective of the workshop was to improve the quality of teaching at CIEE, mainly in French classes where lessons need to focus more on students’ needs; but also with a Faculty to be able to understand and manage problems/ misunderstandings related to culture that often happen in classes.
A) During the first session (particularly organized for Language teachers), the followings points were discussed:
*Lessons covered in French classes for the 4 levels (lessons’ plans /contents/activities)
*New activities to reinforce the practice in class and work on grammar, conjugation, vocabulary acquisition and memorization, questioning as well as students’ spontaneity, etc.
B) The second session organized for all teachers was about problems (mainly those related to culture) they faced in their classes.
After a deep discussion, some recommendations were given to teachers as strategies to better manage misunderstandings in class.
IV - OUTSITE STUDENTS TECHNOLOGY BUBBLE: Rural Visits
Two weeks ago, the Language & Culture (LC) and Development Studies (DS) programs students spent one week for LC students and two weeks for DS students in rural areas throughout Senegal to experience rural life and to expose themselves into real Senegalese culture. Some of them went to rural areas with a Peace Corps volunteer where there is no electricity; there were off with no technology (no electronic devices, no wifi), some of them couldn't even charge their phones.
A student said this: “I spent the most incredible week being hosted by Jill, a Peace Corps volunteer living in Agnam Toungel, a village in the Podor region, way up North in Senegal. More impressive even than Jill's Pular speaking skills was her seamless integration into the culture and community.”
“I traveled to Thies for my rural visit in Keur Demba. I asked for electricity so Victoria placed me with a family that actually had a television. The bathroom was bigger than the one I had here in Dakar. My room was more spacious too and I was surprised because I thought that my living situation would be a little worse than here in Dakar. I suppose some people did have a worse living situation than I did. When I arrived, everyone was excited to meet me. They gave me a new name (Ndiya Wade: I don't know how to spell it) and they constantly quizzed me on the names of my host mom and dad. They mainly spoke Wolof and very little French. It was difficult for me to communicate with my family especially since my Wolof isn't very good. They asked me what I liked to eat and they made it for me for dinner. There wasn't very much to do. It was definitely a time to relax and enjoy your surroundings. I did help shell some beans that they would cook for dinner. One day, a student and I got to ride on the back of the horse when we traveled to into the fields to gather food for the other horses. It was really beautiful seeing the trees and feeding the horse was fun! I didn't know that they had such strong jaws. One of the days there, I had to take my first bucket shower, but it wasn't that bad. Apparently the water stopped working in the community. On a different day, we were able to see the women in the community tie dye clothing that they would later sale to the community. I purchased a blue wrap. Overall, it was a great experience and it gave me a greater appreciation for the things we have here in Dakar as well as America”.
“This past week on the rural visit was an unforgettable experience. I was able to integrate into rural life quickly and participate in an array of activities. From Senegalese wrestling to harvesting peanuts to riding horses and donkeys to searching water from a well and carrying on my head to teaching an elementary class in French - my rural visit was enriching. It was remarkable to see the work ethic of these incredible men and women. They are focused on the essentials of life and it was a breath of fresh air to reconnect with nature and traditional ways of living.”