Study trip to Senegal
St. Mike's study trip to Senegal in works for next winter
Africa is a continent of wonders that everyone should visit because it is where civilization and humanity began, say Laurence Clerfeuille and Moise St. Louis, the Saint Michael’s faculty-staff organizers of a student study-trip to Senegal in West Africa scheduled for next year’s winter break (2019-2020).
“At St. Mike’s we want our students to be engaged in the world and to become citizens of the world by traveling and making connections,” says Clerfeuille, associate professor of French, explaining why she and St. Louis, associate dean of students and director of the Center for Multicultural Affairs and Services, spent this year’s break in Senegal to explore and prepare for next year’s adventure.
Clerfeuille left for Senegal on December 19, 2018 to volunteer for a week at the school where they will take students next year, and St. Louis traveled to Senegal on Dec. 27, with both returning to the U.S. on January 8. The tentative dates for next year’s study trip are December 26, 2019 through January 9, 2020.
St. Louis said the plans coming together for next year’s trip call for participating students to reside for two weeks mainly in Dakar, the capital city, exploring Senegal and learning about Senegalese culture. “They will visit historical sites such as the Island of Gorée where the slave trade started in Senegal, the superb Museum of Black Civilizations inaugurated a few weeks ago and the African Renaissance Monument,” he said. “Students will also visit the reserve in Bandia to come face-to-face with giraffes and zebras and animals one only see on TV and immerse themselves in Senegalese culture and languages (French and Wolof).”
He and Clerfeuille said that the group also plans to stay true to the Saint Michael’s others-oriented mission and tradition by spending some of their time doing service in the underprivileged neighborhood of Guinaw Rails (on the outskirts of Dakar) at an elementary school, engaging with youth who the organizers found to be the impressive young leaders of the English Club. They will also have the opportunity to learn glass painting from local artists.
In a written summary of their just-completed trip, the organizers wrote: “Senegal is not called ‘teranga’ (Wolof for ‘land of hospitality’) by accident … to be in Senegal is to love it!” They further said the country is seen as a model for democracy in West Africa with its Muslim majority and Catholic minority and its multiple ethnicities living in harmony and respect. “Senegal is so wonderful and beautiful, and the food is oh so good,” Clerfeuille said, “and the people are so nice and welcoming of foreigners and others of different cultures and beliefs.”
“Being in Senegal, students will understand what unconditional acceptance and commitment to peace and solidarity means,” she said. “There is not much we can capture in a few words, but we are sure students will have an unforgettable experience in Senegal and have a hard time coming back to the States — but it will be as educated citizens of the world, then equipped to understand, work and interact with others. We are sure they will be excited to share their experiences with the Saint Michael’s community, family, and friends.”