Senegal, a West African nation of approximately 11 million, is bordered by the Atlantic ocean, Mauritania and Mali, The Gambia and several other small countries. A French colony from 1659 to 1960, Senegal is now an independent nation. It features a unique blend of cultures, languages and ethnic groups. Islam is the predominant religion and mosques form a strong core of the cultural and spiritual life of its people. Dakar, the capital, is one of the most vibrant cities in western Africa, where modern amenities mix well with the cultural tradition of the Wolof, Peul and Sérère peoples.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ program in Senegal is offered in cooperation with Wells College and the West African Research Center (WARC) and is taught on the campus of Université Cheikh Anta Diop. The special attraction of this program is its focus on interaction with the local population, not as folklore but in everyday life circumstances. As a developing nation, Senegal offers a wonderful opportunity to examine the influence of European and American culture on traditional societies. It also gives the students a chance to look at their own culture from a very different point of view, to perfect their language skills in French (and learn basic Wolof) and engage fully in West African life through placement with local host families, participation in UCAD student activities, and through independent exploration.
Students will receive four credits for courses taught entirely in French in subjects such as French grammar, composition and conversation, but also in other disciplines including literature, history, international relations, philosophy, religion and sociology. Electives are available in Wolof language and students may request to undertake an independent community-based field project in lieu of one course with the support of their HWS faculty advisor and the permission of the HWS/Wells academic program coordinator in Dakar.
The program is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors in good academic and social standing who are mature, independent and adaptable with a minimum GPA of 2.8. In addition, applicants must have the equivalent of four semesters of college-level French prior to enrollment in Senegal, although more French is preferred. Admitted students are required to take a Senegalese orientation course at HWS in the fall semester preceding the program.
Students are matched with local Senegalese host families, all within walking distance of the Wells Center and the UCAD campus. The student usually has her/his own room, furnished with at least a bed, a study desk, and a closet. Families are chosen not only for their ability to provide the basic necessities, but above all for their interest in sharing their lives with their guests. Host families provide two meals per day and students receive a small stipend to purchase their midday meal (lunch) near the university.
A series of guided excursions are offered as part of this program and are included in the tuition. Among the locations visited during previous semesters are the wildlife park of Doudj; Gorée Island, an important island in the slave trade; and the French colonial and former capital city of Saint-Louis. During orientation and throughout the term, there are shorter excursions within the city of Dakar to important cultural and historic sites. Other excursions may be added as opportunities arise.
Students are charged standard HWS tuition and fees, room and board and a $600 administrative fee for a four course semester. Additional expenses not covered include airfare, books, visa and personal expenses (laundry, entertainment, ground transportation, independent travel and immunizations). We estimate airfare at $1800 from the East Coast, books at $200, visa at $65 and immunizations at $300. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of personal expenses because student spending habits differ considerably. We would suggest a minimum of $750 - $1,000. However, students on a tight budget should be able to manage with less. If you are concerned about finances, we strongly encourage you to talk to the CGE staff who can offer information and advice based on your specific situation.
NOTE: This information is subject to change. Please see the CGE for more information.