Students of the Language + Culture program in Dakar, Senegal are eager to seize opportunities.
The opportunity to live and study in a French-speaking West African country considered by many to be one of the most developed and democratic nations in that region. The opportunity to explore Senegalese society and develop and/or acquire language skills in French and Wolof. They’re excited to engage in true cultural immersion by living with a Senegalese family and participating in a community service project.
If you’re ready to seize the opportunities, the Language + Culture in Dakar is ready for you.
Study abroad in Dakar and you will:
Choose from a variety of courses in African studies, development studies, anthropology, and sociology
Live with a Senegalese family that provides strong cultural immersion
Participate in African art, dance, and music; engage in community service and/or an internship
Visit Gorée Island, Toubab Dialaw, Saint Louis, and the Sine-Saloum region; learn in a rural stay with a local host family, or Peace Corps or NGO staff
The CIEE Difference
Explore a wide range of subjects from French/Francophone studies, African studies, international relations and development studies in a bilingual curriculum. Elective subjects include: History of Islam; Public Health and Development in Senegal and Africa; Development Economics; African Society through Contemporary Literature; and Crisis Management and International Law in Africa
Included in the program are day trips to historic Gorée Island, including the Slave House, Women’s Museum, and the Historical Museum; and to Toubab Dialaw, a fishing village and artist’s colony. Occasionally, the program organizes excursions to Touba and other important religious centers. In previous semesters, CIEE has taken students on weekend trips to the mangroves of the Sine-Saloum region; Saint Louis, the former capital of French West Africa; and other parts of Senegal, where they experience rural life.
Depending upon students’ interests and course topics, additional trips and cultural activities in and around Dakar may be organized or subsidized by the program.
Weeklong visits to rural areas in Senegal are an essential component of the CIEE program in Dakar. Mid-semester, students travel in groups or individually, depending on their preference, and stay with either Peace Corps volunteers or local NGO staff working in the field. These visits provide CIEE students the opportunity to better understand the contrasts and connections between rural and urban realities.
During their visits, students are encouraged to observe thoughtfully, pose questions, and converse in the local language (whether Wolof or another national language). The rural stays allow students to identify key revenues and community resources, listen to the history of the village, and discover the role of and reactions to the volunteer or the NGO staff in the community. As part of the required Senegalese Society and Culture course, students are asked to submit a critical paper based on their rural visit experience.
Time and time again, CIEE students have cited the rural visit as the most profound and memorable experience during their semester abroad.
Total recommended credit for the semester is 15–17 semester/22.5–25.5 quarter hours and for the academic year is 30–32 semester/45–48 quarter hours.
Contact hours are 45 hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course, unless otherwise indicated.
Students take five courses each semester: three required and two elective courses. The three required courses constitute the CIEE core curriculum: Contemporary Senegalese Society and Culture (in French or English, depending on the results of a French language placement test completed upon arrival in Dakar), French language, and Wolof language. Students then choose two elective courses. Students may also take the two-credit Seminar on Living and Learning in addition to their course load of five courses.
The Republic of Senegal, which achieved independence in 1960 after more than a century of French colonial rule, is arguably one of the most democratic countries in West Africa. Senegal has a population of nearly twelve million, with two and a half million living in Dakar, the political and economic capital and one of West Africa’s most vibrant cities. Although French is the country’s official language and Wolof the predominant language, other languages are spoken by the country’s multiethnic population, which is more than 90 percent Muslim.
Where You’ll Study
The CIEE Study Center is located in the Amitié III neighborhood near restaurants, shops, cultural centers, and the largest public university in Senegal. Some students walk from their homestay to the Study Center, while others take public transportation. CIEE students study exclusively with other CIEE participants in a building that shares facilities including a library, computer lab, café, and student lounge with L’Insitut Supérieur de Droit de Dakar. ISDD, a branch of the Université de Perpignan Via Domitia in France. ISDD , offers degrees in Political Science and Law and has a mostly Senegalese student body.
Housing & Meals
Housing and meals are included in the program fee. All students live in a Senegalese home in a furnished room. Living with a Senegalese family enables students to have daily contact with French and/or Wolof languages and learn about family and social life in Senegal, which are crucial aspects of the culture. While French is the official language of the country, Wolof is most commonly spoken in the homes of CIEE host families, and CIEE students quickly realize the challenges of living in a multiethnic and multilingual society, as they learn to function in both languages.
Host families tend to view U.S. students as “adopted children” and expect them to eat meals and spend time with their family and friends. Homestay placements are determined on the basis of a preliminary questionnaire and confirmed on site in consultation with the program’s Housing Coordinator. It is important to keep in mind that the Senegalese live simply, and such amenities as washing machines and microwaves are not commonly available. Meals tend to be considerably less varied than in the U.S.— rice and fish are considered staple foods in Senegal. A bi-weekly meal stipend is given to students so that they may supplement and vary their diet.
Although some students are within a 10- to 15-minute walk from the Study Center, others should expect to commute by bus or taxi on a daily basis. A transportation stipend is given to students living in the neighborhoods that are not within walking distance of campus.
Academic year students can stay with their host families during the break between semesters.
The CIEE Study Center in Dakar offers students the opportunity to live and study in a French-speaking West African country and to immerse themselves in two of Senegal’s official languages: French and Wolof. Through a broad range of coursework in English and/or French, students are also able to engage in topics concerning Africa, in general, and Senegal, specifically. By doing so, participants gain a greater understanding of the issues and challenges facing Senegal today and learn firsthand about this multilingual society.
Students often notice striking differences between their home educational system and the Senegalese model, which is based on the French system. While students in the U.S. are accustomed to a very structured system, the Senegalese method generally requires students to take greater initiative and responsibility in a less structured environment. Some American students could misperceive a course as having a light workload or few assignments, but students are expected to engage in a great deal of individual study and extensive reading outside of the classroom.
The Resident Director oversees all CIEE courses, which are taught in both English and French. Senegalese professors, most of whom also hold faculty appointments at Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), teach these courses. CIEE Study Center courses run for 12 weeks (two 2-hour sessions per week) for a total of 45 hours and include a broad range of subjects.
Classes are generally lecture-based, but CIEE teachers are encouraged to foster more interactive classroom dynamics. In addition to lectures and discussions, many classes involve student presentations, which may take up a greater part of the course schedule than students are accustomed to in the U.S.
Courses are designed to offer opportunities for students to draw a parallel between the theoretical information they receive in the classroom and the social and cultural experiences they have outside of class. Field trips and guest speakers supplement students’ education and provide a practical orientation to their learning.
CIEE students have access to local institutions and organizations for research and special activities. These include the West African Research Center (WARC), the IFAN library at UCAD, and the Baobab Center.