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Dear Students,

As we all know, international travel requires a lot of forethought and planning. Packing lists, itineraries, tickets, accommodations…all these logistics spring to mind when preparing for a big trip. However, of equal importance in conscious travel is putting some research into the culture, history, and landscape of the region you’re traveling to. The more informed you are, the more deeply you can appreciate what makes a place unique: diversity in all forms, cultural norms, and important historical/political/social contexts. Understanding and cultural sensitivity is one of the greatest forms of respect that we can show our host country.

In the spirit of conscious travel, your I-Team is assigning each of you a little pre-course research – to be completed and posted as a Yak on our group’s dedicated Yak Board. Yaks are a way for us to get to know one another before the start of our course, ask/answer any questions, compile our thoughts and activities while in the field, and reflect on our experiences after returning home.

For your research, you will focus on one of the two things that makes Senegal such a fascinating and lovely place: its people and its landscape. This topic is purposefully quite broad; allowing you space to dive into whichever cultural, historical, or material aspect of Senegal that catches your interest for further exploration and in-country understanding.

Pre-Course Assignment Objectives: Introduce yourself; become familiar with a topic about Senegal that intrigues you; and share it with the rest of the group on the Yak Board.


1. Research a topic focusing on either the Senegalese people or its landscape (see below).

a)   People: choose a significant individual or a community of people – historical or contemporary – that has shaped or forms part of the fabric of Senegalese society.
Eg. people of different trades/livelihoods (artists, farmers, teachers, etc), presidents, ethnic groups, women, religious figures, famous musicians, etc.

b)   Landscape: choose a specific region, city, agricultural crop/natural resource, or climate
issue that is an important part of understanding Senegal.

2. Write your first Yak (due by June 10th)!

  • Start with a paragraph introducing yourself – What makes you you? What brought you to WTBD and why are you interested in Senegal? What are you most excited/nervous about? What do you hope to contribute to our team? Milk chocolate or dark? No wrong answers here! And don’t forget to include a picture of yourself 🙂
  • Write up a summary of your Senegal research in 1-3 paragraphs, providing the background and significance of the topic you choose to cover. Don’t sweat, this is just an introductory topic, not a full-fledged research paper!
  • Lastly, feel free to be creative – eg. if you’re talking about a poet or musician, include an excerpt or link to their work. If you’re looking at an important staple crop, you might include a recipe of a dish that it’s used in. Or if you choose to talk about the colorful world of Senegalese tailors, post a picture of a traditional vs. high fashion style, or even draw up your own design (which you might turn into a real outfit during our trip, wink wink).

We’re so looking forward to learning more about one another as we draw closer to go-time. Allons-y!!!

Jamm ak Xewel,
Alyx, Elke, and Samba

***PLEASE NOTE: any pictures that you include in a Yak must be either your own original photo, or a link to an image. You are not allowed to post photos downloaded from Google in order to avoid copyright infringement.