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Hi everyone! My name is Elizabeth. I am sixteen, and I live in New York, on the Upper West Side (shout-out to Taz, uptown’s where it’s at). I will be a junior at Chapin next year. My ideal day would probably involve going skating (figure skating…I’m not cool enough to skateboard), walking my dog (Clementina), hanging out with friends, and plenty of DARK chocolate. I heard about WTBD through a representative who came to my school, and presented the program; she drew me in with her passion and charisma, and really got me interested in WTBD. Initially, I was interested in Senegal because I take French in school, and I knew that Senegal is French-speaking, so this program felt like a good fit. I hope to bring a sense of fun to our team, and I can’t wait to meet you all!

I noticed that China (instead of France) is beginning to dominate trade. The top imports are from #1 China, #2 France, #3 India and #4 Nigeria. Through Xi Jin Ping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is becoming more involved in Senegal’s infrastructure and loans than ever before. The BRI is a multi-billion dollar initiative to increase trade with China. I am interested in talking to people about the BRI, and hearing their opinions on China. Senegal was the first African country to sign on with BRI. In many cases, China has been accused of providing loans to its BRI partner countries under conditions they will be unable to fulfil.1

President Xi visited many African countries to propose the BRI, and he wrote that he had  “forged a deep friendship during our common struggle against imperialism, colonialism and racism”2 with Africa. I find this statement ironic, and I would like to know: do Senegalese agree with Xi? I do not want to bring any preconceived notions with me on the trip, but I am very curious about how the international scramble for influence in Africa (exacerbated by climate climate change) effects day-to-day life. I was thinking of asking my homestay-families, or people we meet on the trip, questions like the ones listed below, in order to get a better sense of Senegalese attitudes towards China.

Do you like Chinese products?

Do you get a lot of Chinese products? What about French products, or American products?

Generally, what do you think of Xi Jinping?

How do you see the country developing in the future?


  1. Bax, Pauline. “China Battles France for Business in Former African Colonies.” Bloomberg. Last modified July 17, 2018. Accessed April 2, 2019. china-battles-france-for-business-in-its-former-african-colonies.
  2.  Crabtree, Justina. “China’s latest trade partner in Africa could help it export to the US.” CNBC. Last modified July 23, 2018. Accessed April 7, 2019.

P.S. Sorry I am late writing this, but I promise I won’t be late to the airport.