Senegal: School for International Training (National Identity and the Arts)

Senegal is a nation rich in art and culture, especially music.  In the School for International Training: National Identity and the Arts program, students study in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, with an academic focus on social, economic, and political issues of Senegal.  The country has more than 26 different ethnic communities (with Wolof being the dominant group) giving students a vibrant and in-depth look at the traditions, customs, and culture of each ethnic group. A minimum cumulative 2.80 GPA is required for admission to this program.

Course Overview:

 Because the nation’s main languages are French and Wolof, SIT has a prerequisite of three recent semesters of college level French or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in French.  Students complete visual and performing arts segments at the Village des Arts choosing from glass painting, ceramics, bronze sculpture, or batik.  The performing arts workshop offers dance and drumming.  Topics of study include the role of Islam in Senegalese life, contemporary development, women’s rights issues, education, and traditional West African music, rhythms, and storytelling.  Some seminars include: National Identity and the Arts, Intensive Language Study: Intermediate and Advanced French, and Beginning Wolof, and Field Study. 

The program’s thematic seminar is taught mainly in French. 

Independent Study Project:

During the last four weeks of the program, students will conduct an Independent Study Project, pursuing original research on a selected topic of interest. 

Excursions:

The program includes three trips: Kedougou, Saint Louis, and Gorée Island.  At Kedougou, students explore the local villages noting the cultural diversity in dance, music, and traditions and customs.  This trip also involves several hikes to the sacred Baobab and Dindefello.  In Saint Louis, the trip focuses on the colonial period, which will include lectures and a visit to the National Ethnographic Museum.  On Gorée Island, students learn about the slave trade period during the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Housing:

Homestays: For six weeks, students live with a Senegalese family in Dakar, followed by two shorter homestays in rural areas of the country.  SIT tries to place two or three students in the same neighborhood or village.  Most host families are middle-class and are either within walking distance or a 20 to 30 minute bus ride from the SIT building. 

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