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Also In This Issue:

New Directions for Weissman Center - Q&A with Lois Brown

Meet FP Scholar Nancy Doherty "05

Levin Discusses Women and Science at MHC

MHC Students Visit Senegal

MHC Receives Rare Book Collection from Alumna

Brad Leithauser Inducted into Iceland's Order of the Falcon

Dept of Public Safety Becomes First in State to Win Accreditation

Students Become Sailors in the Caribbean During January Term

Math Achievement-Gap Expert Busts Myths About Public Education and Standardized Tests

MHC Newsmakers

MHC Milestones


This Week at MHC

Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives
March 11, 2005

MHC Students Visit Senegal

By Ember Oparowski ’07

  Senegal Trip
  Renowned Senegalese writer Aminata Sow Fall (third from right, back row) and Samba Gadjigo (second from right, back row) with MHC students in Senegal

Every January, Mount Holyoke students venture to Senegal for a special two-week, total-immersion J-Term course. Accompanied by Senegalese native Samba Gadjigo, professor of French, these students gain valuable insight into another culture.

The students participating in the trip this year were Margo Anderson ’08, Cyrena Drusine-Stokes ’05, Alina Florescu ’06, Carmen Guhn-Knight ’08, Grace Kim ’07, Angela Lasalle ’05, Summer Martin ’07, Molly McCue ’08, Luisa Mirarchi ’07, Katie Poirier ’08, and Stephanie Robins ’08.

For the duration of the trip, each student stayed with a host family. This experience enabled them to practice their language skills, as well as to gain a greater understanding of Senegalese culture and hospitality. “How would one even begin to describe Teranga?” said Florescu, a Romanian native. “The tradition and most fundamental social norm of sharing with friends—and even strangers—in a third-world country, is regarded as religious duty. Teranga iisn’t just preached, but enacted everywhere in Senegal.”

The students lived for two weeks as typical Senegalese. “In going to Senegal, from talking with our families, bargaining for various goods, buying necessities such as water and food, and even talking with Senegalese friends, one has no other option but to speak in French,” Martin said. The most drastic cultural differences were eating with their right hands without utensils and learning to bargain with vendors.

"I can only say that I hope to return soon. My experience in Senegal was life changing,” Lasalle said. “It was my ability to see a culture I had studied from afar and possibly misrepresented in my own mind.”

"What struck me the most was the speed with which all students adjusted to their new environment, negotiating at their own pace and their own style the cultural intricacies of Senegal,” Gadjigo said. “Judging from the transformations in each student during the two weeks we were in Dakar, I have no doubt that these few days had a lasting effect both on the way they see themselves and on their perspective of the world around them. Friendships developed, and they bonded in a way that will last a lifetime. We all became family, despite of, or because of, our differences.”

For more information and photographs, go to


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