Union College
Winter 2022, Nov 30th-Dec 21st
MLT 341T: Mini-term Program in Senegal
Prof. Ndiaye
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

(To download the full syllabus, click HERE.)

Program Description

The Winter mini-term program in Senegal is a contribution to Union College’s vision and commitment to inspire our students. It brings together students for a 3-week academic and cultural experience in Senegal/West Africa. The course is a study and discussion of the complex history and culture of Senegal from pre-colonial era to the present. It examines the ways contemporary Senegal is shaped by African traditions, Islam since the 11th century, and by the West mainly through the French colonial legacy. We will discuss socio-political issues as well as cultural, linguistic, and religious matters and the ways they are represented and/or retold in various mediums involving literature, films, media, and arts.

During the Dakar (the capital of Senegal) portion of the mini-term, students stay with host families for a full socio-cultural immersion. 

The Dakar portion of the Program also includes a variety of seminars at the West African Research Center (WARC) given by local university professors, artists, experts, and activists. Seminar themes will be tailored to the interests of the students. Past seminars (2011, 2013) have included topics such as Wolof lessons, Senegalese cinema, Music in Senegal, Health and Health care in Senegal, Sport in Senegal (with a focus on traditional wrestling).

The Dakar portion of the Program offers internships with students divided into small groups based on common interests; the groups spend time at appropriate locations such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, art galleries, schools, women’s organizations, school of dance and drumming, and orphanage, etc.; students shadow and/or actively participate in activities directly related to their majors, minors, or something they are passionate about.

The Program offers guided excursions to Gorée island (slave house, art galleries), the Monastery of Keur Moussa, the Cathedral of Dakar, the Grande Mosquée de Dakar, Stade Iba Mar (to watch the national sport of wrestling), Lac Rose (Pink lake), Touba (Senegal’s Holy City), Tene-toubab (a typical African village), Sobobade (artistic village with dance and art workshops), Keur Diogoye museum in Joal, Tapisserie de Thies (tapestry in the town of Thies), Bandia Game Reserve, boating and hiking in Saloum Delta National Park.

Host institution in Dakar

WARA’s (West African Research Association) overseas office WARC (West African Research Center) in Dakar will once again host the mini-term. WARC is a point of contact for U.S. and West African researchers, encourages the intersection of respective research traditions, and fosters collaborative research efforts. WARC is administered in conjunction with the Dakar-based Association de Recherche Ouest Africaine (AROA). WARC places students in host families, recruits local university professors and experts for lectures, organizes excursions, and makes the necessary contacts for internships and workshops.


Demonstrated interest in Africana studies and/or French and Francophone Studies.

Students’ learning objectives

The goal for this faculty-led student program is to help increase Union students’ global awareness and cultural competency through firsthand experience both in urban and rural settings in West Africa. Senegal is the western-most point in Africa, a crossroad between Africa, the Middle East (Islam was introduced in Senegal as early as the 11th century), and Europe (Senegal was the former capital of French West Africa). In many ways, the mini-term is an additional resource for the Africana Studies program (its ID majors and minors and potential full major).

Readings and films

*The Gambia & Senegal by Katharine Kane, Lonely Planet, 4th edition, 2009 (required)

Culture and Customs of Senegal by Eric S. Ross, Greenwood, 2008.

*Film Documentary: Youssou Ndour: Return to Gorée. Director: Pierre-Yves Borgeaud. Senegal-Switzerland. 2006

*Senegal Abroad: Linguistic Borders, Racial Formations, and Diasporic Imaginaries. Maya Angela Smith. University of Wisconsin Press. 2019

Online assignment

Students will participate in a blog project, text and media based, using a WordPress website and SWAY. Students will post pictures, 1 to 2 minutes long videos clips, and stories about their ongoing experiences while in Senegal for friends, family, and the Union community to see. The blog project would like a virtual scrapbook and should have at least 15 PICTURES. This project could be used for campus-wide presentations (Steinmetz, Minerva House, Clubs, etc.)

PS: A link for the project will be shared with students

Daily and weekly Assignment

A 1 to 2 page journal entry per day in the most sustained language (French or English) that would best reflect student’s observation, understanding, and impressions of Senegal; this short journal includes experiences with host family, WARC (host institution), internships, excursions, and any social interactions outside the program; it should be both descriptive and fairly analytical (reflecting on the challenges, excitements, and the treasures associated with your own experience of the mini-term).

Final Project

(to be handed in no later than Friday January 6th, 2023, two weeks after the mini-term)
Students write a thoughtful essay of 7 pages long at least on a topic of their interest (i.e. religion, women issues, health care, family, education, arts, music, economics, social structures, French colonial impact, etc.). The paper should be an in-depth analysis reflecting the complexity of Senegalese society; students can use critical essays, media, books, etc. as well as their daily journal entries, experiences, and blog projects to support their ideas.

Final paper will be evaluated based on the content, the level of analysis of the subject and its presentation (form including clarity and coherence).


Participation (attendance, engagement and active participation in indivudual and group activies) 20%
Daily journal entry 20%
Blog project 25%
Final Project 35%


Departure and arrival (US-Senegal)
Group leaves US (JFK) on Wednesday, November 30th at 7:25, PM Delta 216
Group arrives in Dakar on Thursday, December 1st at 8AM, Delta 216.
Group leaves Senegal on Friday December 21st, evening flight with Delta
Total: 20 nights, 21 days.

Nights in Dakar (13 nights)
Students: 12 nights with host families and 1 night at hotel (night of December 1st)
Professors: 12 nights in apartment, 1 night at hotel (night of December 1st)

Nights outside Dakar (6 nights)
1 in Kaolack at Hotel Relais
3 at Hotel Keur Saloum
2 at Hotel Sobobade

Daily Itinerary


8amArrive in Dakar airport and transfer to Hotel
Local Assistant: Soda Diop (77 274 93 51)
12pmArrival at hotel & early check-in at hotel Fleur de Lys Point E
1pmLunch at hotel and rest
3:30pmUse ATM or exchange money, buy cell phones, Tour of WARC, check e-mail, registration online with the US embassy in Dakar
5:30pmBack to hotel
Dinner on your own
10amDepart from hotel to WARC
10:30am – 12pmOrientation session at WARC with Mrs Awa Fall, WARC staff
12:30 – 2:30pmLunch downtown Chez Loutcha (pre-paid)
2:30pm – 6pmGuided tour of Dakar with Ali (Place de l’Independence, Soumbédioune, Monument de la Renaissance, etc)
6:30pmBack to hotel
9:30amDepart from hotel with all luggage
10am – 12pmVisit Museum of Black Civilization
1pmBack to WARC & host families pick up students
(lunch & dinner with host families)
9amHost family drops students at WARC
10amLeave for Gorée Island
10:30amArrival in Gorée; Visit the Slave House; guided tour of island
1pmLunch (pre-paid)
4pmFerry back to Dakar
6pmhost families pick up students at WARC
9amHost families bring students to WARC
10:30am – 11:30amLecture 1: Introductory lecture by US professors (French, Ndiaye)
12pm – 1pmLecture 2: Wolof lecture by Sidy Guèye
1pmLunch on your own
2:30pm – 3:45pmDiscussion about internships with Marie Guèye, WARC staff
4pm – 6pm*Showing and discussing of Youssou N’Dour: Return to Gorée. Pierre-Yves Borgeaud.  2006. Senegal, United States, Europe. French and English. 108 min. ArtMattan
1pmLunch on your own
3pm – 4:30pmLecture 3: Senegalese culture (religion, spirituality, wrestling, etc.) with Dr. Ousmane Sene, WARC Director
1pmLunch on your own
3pm – 4:30pmLecture 4: Africana studies with Union Professor at WARC (Prof Butler, Black Americans coming back to Africa; Ghana for example, Liberia historically)
1pmLunch on your own
3pm – 4:30pmLecture 5: Healthcare in Senegal with Dr Dialo Diop at WARC
Day trip to Keur Moussa and Keur Massar
9amDeparture from “Mosquée Mermoz”
10amVisit Keur Moussa Monastery and attend Church service (church service optional)
12pmDepart from Keur Moussa & Lunch on the way to Keur Massar (TBC)
2:30pmVisit Keur Massar’s traditional Health Center with Mr Djibril Ba- 70  470 22 73
6pmStudents get back to host families
Day trip to Pink Lake
10amDepart for Pink Lake
11amGuided visit of Pink Lake & jeep tours on the sand dunes
Lunch at Hotel Etoile du Lac in Pink Lake (prepaid lunch)
3pmCamel ride
Coffee at Etoile du Lac
1pmLunch on your own
3pm – 4:30pmLecture 6: Religion by Moustapha Mbacké

7 Days Outside of Dakar

7amDeparture from WARC (Maybe, visit the reed compound of the Mourid Cheikh on the way)
12:30pmArrival in Touba: Visit the Mosque and library
1:30pmLunch in Touba at Moustapha Mbacké’s home (pre-paid lunch)
2:30pmDeparture for Kaolack
4:30pmArrival in Kaolack & check in at hotel Le Relais de Kaolack
8amDeparture for Tene-Toubab
9:30Arrival in Tene- Toubab & start activities
1pm - 2:30pmLunch in Tene-Toubab (pre-paid lunch)
4pmDeparture for Toubacouta
7pmArrival in Toubacouta and check-in at Hotel Keur Saloum
8pmDinner at hotel (pre-paid dinner)
9amVisit Toubacouta
10amDepart for a visit of the Mangrove
Visit Sippo island
Lunch on Sippo island (pre-paid lunch)
4pm - 6pm30 mn Walk to Keur Bamboung, an ecological campement
On the way back to the hotel stop by “Le reposoir” (birds come to rest there in the evenings)
6:30pmBack to hotel and rest
7:30pmDinner at hotel (pre-paid dinner)
9pmCultural night at hotel
9:30amDepart from hotel
9:40amArrival and visit a Koranic school
11:30amBack to hotel (each student receives a 5.000 CFA stipend)
7:30pmDinner (pre-paid) at hotel
9pmDepart from hotel to attend Wrestling tournament
Toubab Dialaw
12pmCheck out hotel & depart for Sokone (Ousmane hometown)
1pm - 3pmLunch at Sokone (pre-paid) & music and dance session with women from Sokone
3pmDepart for Sobo Bade
6pmArrival in Toubab Dialaw & check-in at hotel Sobo Bade
8pmDinner at hotel (pre-paid)
10amBatik session #1
1pmLunch at hotel (pre-paid)
3pmBatik session #2
4pmDrumming session
6pmDance session
8pmDinner at hotel (pre-paid)
Bandia wildlife
10:30amLeave Sobo Bade for Bandia wildlife
11:45 - 1pmVisit Bandia game reserve
1pm - 3pmLunch (pre-paid) and then back to Dakar
5pmStudents go back to their host family while professors go to the hotel
4:30pmMeet at WARC with all luggage
5:30pmFarewell dinner
8pmDepart from restaurant to go to Airport and be there by midnight, since flight is at 2:30AM; so students bring their luggage with them to the restaurant)
Departure from Senegal at 2:30am

Info about our hotels, WARC, and some of the Sites for Excursions