This 10-week Spring Term program is a fantastic opportunity for Lawrence students who have completed through French 202 (or the equivalent)! Through classes at the Baobab Center in Dakar, living with a host family, excursions, and the opportunity to work on an independent service project, students will immerse themselves in both the French language and the vibrant Afro-Francophone culture of West Central Africa.

Learning at the Baobab Center

The Baobab Center (also known as African Consultants International) is a resource center situated in Dakar, Senegal, that works with numerous American universities to provide language instruction in French, Wolof, and other native languages. At the center, Lawrence students will attend:

  • Cultural orientation workshops designed to help them gain an understanding of the Senegalese lifestyle and integrate into the local society
  • Classes on Senegalese culture, literature and history; French language; beginning Wolof; and Senegalese music, taught by ACI’s Senegalese faculty, visiting professors from Senegalese universities, and a Lawrence University professor who accompanies students on this program. Students can rely on faculty to address any questions or concerns throughout their stay.

Living with a Host Family

"Nene teral ganam yi. Def be bu nene sa ker mum el kerem." Translated from Wolof, that means, "Always receive a stranger like a brother. Make him feel at home in your house." The Senegalese refer to their country as the land of hospitality (known as "teranga" in Wolof), and former Lawrence participants in the Senegal program have thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of their host families. In the program:

  • Students live with a Senegalese family throughout the duration of their stay.
  • Families are arranged prior to departure to Dakar
  • Placements are made based on a pre-departure survey that students complete, where they have the opportunity to indicate any preferences they might have (e.g., family size, dietary preferences, etc.)
  • Most students find the homestay the highlight of their experience, as it allows them unparalleled immersion into the culture and language, as well as more opportunities for meeting local people.

Working on Service Learning or Research Projects

While in Dakar, students will take part in an independent service learning or research project, which they will identify before their term abroad with the help of the Baobab Center and LU faculty.

  • Student will focus on an area that interests them
  • Projects can be (but are not required to be) related to student's major
  • Students may choose to work on a senior experience/research project.
  • Past projects have included placements in areas related to Biology, Global Studies, Government, and Environmental Studies

Experiencing Senegal through Cultural Activities

Throughout their term in Senegal, students will take part in a variety of cultural excursions, encompassing travel in and around Dakar as well as other cities throughout Senegal. These trips are included with the program’s cost and transportation and food during these outings is provided for the students. They are a great chance to get outside of the city and explore other parts of Senegal! Examples of past trips include:

  • Gorée Island (the historic slave fort)
  • Saint Louis (for the annual jazz festival)
  • Touba (Senegalese Islamic Holy City)
  • Toubab Dialaw (an artist colony)
  • The Gambia
  • Niodior (a small island south of Dakar)
  • Bandia forest (a wildlife reservation and safari park)
Senegal at a Glance  
Year of Independence from France 1960
Capital Dakar
Population 12.8 million
Languages French (official language), Wolof, Mandingo, Serere, Parakolle
Government Secular democratic republic. Senegal is one of the most politically stable countries in Africa.
Religions Islam (92%), Christianity (6%), Animism (2%)
Currency Franc CFA

Dakar

Founded in 1857 by French colonial settlers, Dakar is a vibrant modern city with an interesting veneer of colonial culture. It is home to the Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), one of the finest institutions of higher learning in French-speaking West Africa.

Previous Courses and Lectures

  • Senegalese culture and society through literature and film
  • History of Islam in Senegal
  • Senegalese history and politics
  • The Atlantic slave trade
  • History of traditional African art
  • The literature of Saint-Louis, Senegal
  • Senegalese music and dance