The Bridge Year program in Senegal exposes participants to terranga, a Wolof word meaning “hospitality” that typifies the warm, generous spirit of the people who inhabit this West African nation. For most of the year, students live with homestay families in the bustling capital of Dakar, where they support local organizations working in areas such as public health, education, and community development. Short-term group service projects and excursions present students to life in rural villages as well and acquaint them with issues related to sustainability, environmental conservation, and rural healthcare. Participants acquire conversational Wolof and, through guest speakers, excursions, and cultural enrichment activities, learn about Senegalese history, politics, dance, art, and Islam.
Program Location : Bridge Year students in Senegal spend nine months of service based primarily in Dakar, a city of over a million inhabitants and the nation’s capital. Located on a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean, Dakar is a city of contrasts where nascent modern development is juxtaposed with ancient cultural and religious traditions. Participants live in the neighborhood of Yoff, which is a part of greater Dakar even though it retains the feel of a village.
Local Language : Wolof is the most widely spoken language in Senegal, though French, a relic of the colonial era, remains the country’s official language and is spoken among professionals. Pular and other local languages are spoken among various tribal groups and have the status of “national language”. As part of the Bridge Year Program, participants study intensive Wolof in order to gain the necessary communicative competency to engage in community-based service work.
Program Partner : In Senegal, Princeton University partners with Where There Be Dragons, an organization specializing in overseas experiential education. Since their founding in 1993, Dragons has managed hundreds of unique small-group service learning programs in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Dragons is dedicated to inspiring youth leadership and responsible global citizenship through community-based service projects and cultural exchange.
Service Opportunities : Dragons has well-established relationships with various service organizations operating in Dakar and throughout the country. Participants have the opportunity to get involved in variety of activities that support a wide range of social and economic projects. Some of these activities include promoting good health and hygiene, preventing female genital cutting, supporting environmental sustainability, providing aid to refugees, rehabilitating unsafe homes, teaching English, providing art lessons, offering academic advisement to students seeking college admission, and supporting local orphanages.