Reports from Abroad – Week of Oct. 31

Study Abroad Advising:
If you are interested in learning more about study abroad opportunities, stop by the honors college seminar room to meet with Joseph Rasich, Study Abroad Specialist. He will be available every other Thursday from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Student Study Abroad Scholarship Testimonials:
Cultural Connections in Senegal: Causes of Globalization and Consequences on Systems
Summer 2016 – Three weeks in Dakar, Senegal – By Anna Mainero
Dance and Special Education majors, Elementary Language Arts minor

I was able to incorporate both of my majors while I studied abroad. At the lab site, I was able to co-teach a class with a peer at the only school in the region for children with disabilities. For research, I chose to study traditional dance in Senegal compared to the U.S. Midwest and the impact of globalization on dance. I feel very fortunate to have traveled to a place where I could study and interact with both of my passions in a different culture.

One thing I took away from the trip was the importance of and pride in tradition and culture that the Senegalese have for their country, and how eager they are to share that love and passion with others. The sense of community I felt and experienced there is difficult to describe, and I hope to take that way of thinking and interaction back with me to the United States. Although I may not have spoken the language of most people I met, it was interesting to find alternative ways to communicate and challenge one another to understand and make meaning of what was being said.

While I was abroad in West Africa, I was not only able to realize things about myself, but about others as well. I discovered that I really did not need half of the material possessions I seem to value, or need to be concerned about what I look like from day to day. By pushing these thoughts and societal expectations aside, I was able to care about and observe certain things that I had never realized the importance of before. For example, I came back to the United States telling myself that it is a necessity for me to learn at least one other language. This is something I would not have pursued before because I had believed that it was not necessary for me to know another language. Traveling internationally also inspired me to become more aware of what is happening globally rather than focusing only on the news within the United States.

There were also some moments that I will forever cherish from my time spent in Senegal. I will never forget the looks on the kids’ faces when they managed to properly pronounce the new English words that we were teaching them, or how the students helped each other move throughout the school despite their physical disabilities. I will never forget witnessing the happiness that beamed from the people that were traditionally dancing by emanating passion and pride for their culture. I wish I had more time to further my research and continue building relationships with others, because I cherish each person I built a friendship with – we still keep in touch. I also cannot thank the Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University enough for their generosity and support throughout this entire process. Without the help from the honors college, I may not have been able to be involved in this program. With this precious gift in mind, I tried my best to go into this experience with no judgment or expectations and as a result, the beauty of the country, the people, and the culture absolutely amazed me. Senegal will always have a place in my heart. I wish to return one day and further the research that I have begun.

Anna Mainero co-teaching at the only school in the region for children with disabilities – Dakar, Senegal.

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