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Women of the World: Educating Students for Global Citizenship
--A Q&A with Latvia's Irina Liberman '06

In and Out of Africa

On a Global Mission:
Kavita Ramdas '85 Helps Girls and Women Build New Lives by Investing in Their Dreams

Strokes of Genius:
Top Women Golfers to Compete at Mount Holyoke

--Audry Longo '05 Tees Up


Mount Holyoke College News and Events College Street Journal Vista


  Kyle Lebell '07
For Kyle Lebell '07, a two-week trip to Senegal with a group of Mount Holyoke French students during January Term was a life-altering, myth-busting experience. She realized this when she arrived back home in California and the first thing her sister said was, "Welcome back to civilization, Kyle."

In just two weeks, Lebell's definition of civilization had changed dramatically. "By the second week of the trip, I was hailing cabs in downtown Dakar, haggling with aggressive vendors in Wolof [Senegal's native language], comfortably digging my right hand into traditional Senegalese cuisine, and living on 'African time,' " Lebell said. "I gradually began to understand life there. Meanwhile, the cultural barriers that once suggested an uncivilized people toppled."

Her reaction couldn't have pleased MHC French professor and Senegalese native Samba Gadjigo more. Gadjigo, who organizes and supervises the annual J-Term trek to this West African, French-speaking country, hopes that the experience gives Mount Holyoke students a "wider, more global perspective that helps them better understand the world and themselves." He fully expects that the visit to Senegal will forever alter not only students' understanding of Africa, but also their perceptions of "Frenchness" and the French-speaking world.

Samba Gadjigo (right) with MHC students.  

The seven MHC student travelers pursued an ambitious itinerary, including a meeting with author and MHC honorary degree recipient Aminata Sow Fall, the first African woman to write a book in French; visits to Pink Lake (yes, it's actually pink!) and Goree Island and its infamous Slave House; dance and batik lessons; and an international soccer game. (Senegal's love of soccer and its national team, Lebell noted, is comparable to "what baseball used to be in the United States.")

To hone their language skills, students stayed with host families in Dakar for most of the trip. This experience, although intimidating at first, helped the travelers truly understand Senegalese protocol and hospitality, which, in spite of the country's dire poverty, is a great source of national pride.

Is a two-week program really enough to give students a more international perspective? Yes, according to Gadjigo, who noted that while the College has a junior-year program in Senegal, not all students want to spend such an extended amount of time away from the College. "Africa is one of the last frontiers for Americans to explore," Gadjigo said. "This two-week total-immersion program allows students to very quickly open up to a new world and sharpens their desire to know more about it."

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