Back to
Photo by Elke Schmidt, Senegal Bridge Year Program.

Orientation and First Month Itinerary

Our first month in Senegal is filled with trips to the market, visits with families, plates of rice and fish, walks along the beach, breathtaking sunsets, spiritual exploration, and daily opportunities to get to know each other and your new home. This year we are incredibly fortunate— the lunar calendar has us arriving right around Tabaski, one of the biggest holidays of the year in Senegal (and throughout  the Muslim world). Tabaski is a time for family, and Babacar’s extended family have graciously invited us to spend this special time of year with them in the intentional religious community of Dene by the sea south of Dakar (near “Rufisque” on the map). As we celebrate in this small sandy village, we will take the time to recover from jetlag, go over basic health and safety information, and dive into learning local language and culture.

From Dene we will head to Mouit, a small town outside of the Langue de Barbarie, a national park near Saint Louis. This will be our base for our in-country orientation. During our week stay, we will build our foundational knowledge of Senegal and set individual and group goals for our Bridge Year together.

Our exploration will continue with a 10-day “learning service intensive” in the small village of Ndioukhane, just outside of the bustling city of Thies. Here we will build lasting relationships with the local community as we explore best practices for engaging in service and begin to delve into the complexity of service work for foreigners in a postcolonial context.

Our first month of travel culminates with a visit to the communities of Ndem and Mbacke Kadior (both near Thies on the map), two examples of Senegalese community organizing and ethos of group service. At the end of the month, we will move back to Dakar for a short site orientation before meeting our long-term homestay families.

Please find a detailed itinerary of our first six weeks below, and be sure to check out the map of where we are visiting!


Babacar, Berta, and Jenny


Bridge Year Senegal 2017-2018

On-Site Orientation Outline and September Itinerary
Schedule, including dates, locations, and activities, is subject to change. This allows us to respond to community and student needs and interests and to take advantage of unique opportunities.

A Note on Communication at the Beginning of the Program:

Students will have limited internet access through September 26, in particular while traveling in rural areas. Follow our adventures through the Yak Board where the instructor team (often referred to as the “i-team”) and the students will be posting their reflections! You can also follow the Bridge Year instagram handle “bridgeyearprogram” to stay up to date with our latest.

Day 1: (Wednesday August 30 and) Thursday August 31
Group will travel from Princeton to Senegal with Babacar.
• Air France 0009 departs JFK at 11:25 PM on August 30, arrives CDG @ 12:40 PM August 31
• Air France 0718 depart CDG at 4:20 pm August 31, arrive DKR at 8:05pm August 31

This year’s Bridge Year group is lucky to be arriving in Senegal on the eve of Tabaski (Eid al-Adha), Senegal’s biggest holiday of the year! We will be met at the airport by Jenny and Berta upon arrival in Dakar and take night transport (about a 90 minute drive) to escape the hectic atmosphere of the capital and land in the small coastal community of Dene, where we will spend the holiday with Babacar’s extended family as guests of his father’s daara.

As soon as the group lands in Dakar, a “Yak” update will be posted online at: informing family and friends of our arrival.

Day 2: Friday September 1
9:00am – Breakfast and Check-ins
10:30am – Health & Safety 101
11:30am – Cultural Do’s and Don’ts
1:00pm – Lunch
3:00pm – Wolof 101
4:00pm – Tabaski activities with the community
8:00pm – Roses, Thorns, and Gratitudes (RTGs) and Dinner

Day 3: Saturday September 2
9:00am – Breakfast and Check-ins
10:30am – Student Roles
12:00pm – French 101
1:00pm – Lunch
3:00pm – One-on-one Check-ins with I-team
6:00pm – Health & Safety 102
7:00pm – Journal Prompt
8:00pm – RTGs and Dinner

9:00 pm – After-dinner welcome ceremony

Day 4: Sunday September 3
8:00am – Breakfast and Check-ins
9:00am – Pack for Orientation
10:30am – Send stuff to Babacar’s house, leave for Mouit
12:30am – Lunch on the road
2:00pm – Travel to Mouit
7:00pm – Arrive Mouit, settle into campement
8:00pm – RTGs and Dinner

Day 5: Monday September 4
• Sessions: Introduction to Dragons, Course, Program Progression & Group Life Cycle
• Activities: Visit to Village Chief

Day 6: Tuesday September 5
• Language: Wolof class
• Sessions: Senegal 101 – Physical & Cultural Geography
• Activities: Visit to tailor

Day 7: Wednesday September 6
• Sessions: Senegal 102 – Family in Senegal, Language Review Session
• Activities: Day with families in Mouit

Day 8: Thursday September 7
• Sessions: Communication Systems, Group mission Statement, Senegal 103 – Economy in Senegal
• Language: French class
• Prepare yak board updates to post the following day

Day 9: Friday September 8
• Activities: Day in Saint Louis
• Student yak posts – check out the board over the next few days to check them out!

Day 10: Saturday September 9
• Activities: Volunteer in Langue de Barbarie National Park

Day 11: Sunday September 10
• Sessions: Senegal 104 – Introduction to Islam and brotherhoods, Spirituality and religion.
Language classes and exercises.

Day 12: Monday September 11
Travel to the city of Thies.
Explore the famous Thies market
Preparation for 10-day village stay in Ndioukhane.

Day 13-19: Tuesday September 12- Friday September 22
Travel to Ndioukhane for “learning service” intensive.

  • Primary service project: leading a summer camp for the school children of the village of Ndioukhane.
    • Other sessions include Wolof and French class, and sessions on development, service, religion, and other key topics.
    • Opportunities for discussions with village chief, local youth, teachers, community members.
    • Possibility to visit neighboring villages.
    • Possibility for overnight stay with family.

Day 20-22: Saturday September 23 – Monday September 25

Travel to village of Ndem to learn about service in the Senegalese context. Participate in local service activities with the community. Day trip to community of Mbacke Kadior to learn about Senegalese community models of service.

Day 23-24: Tuesday September 26 – Wednesday September 27
• Travel to Dakar in morning on September 26 for beginning of on-site orientation in Dakar. Group will stay in the Program House for 2 nights. Activities include: orientation to Yoff, homestay briefings, and intensive Wolof and French classes to prepare for homestays.

Day 25: Thursday September 28
• Move into longterm homestays in Yoff.

Day 26-27: Friday September 29 – Saturday September 30
• Orientation to Dakar city, continued language study

Early – mid October
• Continued orientation and content sessions
• Opportunity to explore independent study projects
• Intensive language classes

• Students begin at long-term service placements. Placements have staggered start dates, and students will have opportunities to pursue additional language study, short-term service or independent enrichment activities (IEAs).