This past summer I studied abroad in Senegal, West Africa. My program was hosted through Oregon and Indiana University's African and International Studies programs. During my seven plus weeks in Senegal, I took two classes at the distinguished Cheihk Anta Diop University. I took a class on the History, Culture, and Politics of West Africa. This class was a seminar class that brought in many well-known Senegalese historians, scholars, journalists, and activists to give lectures with a focus on Senegal, but in the context of West Africa's history. My second class was a course on the predominant traditional language in Senegal which is Wolof. The Wolof course was taught by two Senegalese professors. It was a great experience because I was able to learn under a completely different teaching style than the one I am use to, and I was able to use the practical language lessons outside of the classroom. Apart from the two classes that I took, I also had an internship with one of the three largest microfinance groups (MFI) in Senegal. I worked as an assistant to the Contrôleur de Gestion at the ACEP ( Alliance de Credit et d'Épargne pour la production) headquarters in Dakar, Senegal. My work was focused around data analysis on the different types of loans that ACEP offered. This data was reported to the Central Bank to show ACEP's continued progress and sustainability.
In addition, I went on several guided excursions with my study abroad group (there were about 13 American students in our group, I was the only non-Indiana/non-Oregon U student). We visited Goreé Island (a major slave port during the time of slave trade). We had a one-day guided excursion was to Grand Mosque in Holy City of Touba, where the great leader of the Mourides, Aamadou Bamba, was buried. We stayed in two villages. One was the village of Gaya in Northern Senegal, which was once home to the leader of a major Islamic brotherhood. The other village was Toucar, in the region of Fatick. This was the village where our professor (from Oregon) had started doing his work about twenty years ago. I actually stayed with the same family that our professor stayed with and I also slept in the same room. Dennis Galvan, our Oregon University professor, still does a lot of work with the village. Most notabl, he helped to start a Farmer's association in the village. We also visit the region of St.Louis, which is in North West Senegal. St. Louis was the capital of former French West Africa. While in St. Louis, we had lunch at the house of the nationally-renowned and award-winning writer, Louis Camara. He also gave a lecture on the connection between Colonization and St. Louisien literature. When I was not in school, at work, or on a guided excursion, I spent time getting to know my American house mates and I also spent time with a lot of my new Senegalese friends. I ate meals at the homes of many of my Senegalese friends. I attended birthday parties, jazz and reggae concerts, went to several beaches, and also went to eat at some local restaurants.