Senegal: National Identity and the Arts


Students live for six weeks with a Senegalese family in Dakar and also have two shorter homestays (approximately 3–4 days each) in rural areas of the country. During the homestays, students are typically placed in clusters — for instance, two or three students in the same neighborhood or in the same village hamlet.

Experience Senegalese daily life and special cultural events while living in Dakar.
Students typically share numerous activities with their host families, including going to the local market, tailor, neighborhood boutiques, or beach. They may also attend sporting events (soccer or wrestling matches, in season) or concerts with their host parents or siblings. Students may also be invited to naming ceremonies, marriages, and Muslim holiday celebrations such as Tabaski and Korité. Some students have attended religious seminars/gatherings with members of their host family.

In living with host families, students experience the realities of Senegalese daily life and learn about family dynamics, including family structure, gender roles, eating habits, household chores, waste disposal systems, notions of space, concepts of belonging, education of children, and celebrations and other rituals. The homestays also provide an excellent opportunity for students to immerse themselves in French and Wolof, the primary languages of Senegal.

Most host families are considered middle-class by Senegalese standards and represent different professions, including nurses, merchants/business owners, retired army officers, teachers, and tailors. Some host families may be walking distance to the SIT program center in Dakar, while others may be 20–30 minutes away by bus. Most, but not all, host families have children. If there are no children in the host family, there are usually children in neighboring families. Students often visit each other’s host families.

Rural stays
Students will experience a village stay in the Wolof community of Ndiane, near Thiès, before heading to Touba and Saint-Louis, While in Saint-Louis, students will have an opportunity to go for a boat ride on the Senegalese coast near Saint-Louis and visit the Langue de Barbarie Bird Park, along the mouth of the river Senegal, where various bird species come to nest. Students may also become involved in community activities during the rural stay.

In the second rural homestay students typically live in different villages outside the town of Kédougou in southeast Senegal.

The homestays are an essential part of the program, providing students with a unique opportunity to experience Senegalese culture and improve language skills through daily interaction with host family members.

Other accommodations during the program may include guest houses, educational institutions, or small hotels.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Dakar

Language Study: French,  Wolof

Prerequisites: 3 semesters French

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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