The Bridge Year Senegal cohort has arrived safely in Dakar! As we settle in to our new surroundings, we want to take the time to reflect on our month of orientation–in particular, our most recent stay in Ndioukhane, a rural Pulaar and Sereer village located in the Thies region. While there, we had the privilege and challenge of running a primary school summer camp for local youth. Here are some highlights from our week in Ndioukhane!
Every morning, the cohort would gather with students in the common area in front of the school (during planning we would call this the “song circle”). Students were then divided into two groups, and we started sessions. Summer camp started with two 45-minute sessions, one usually an art/craft and the other an outdoor game. After a 30-minute break we had two more sessions, usually an indoor and an outdoor activity related to learning French and English vocabulary.
Origami was one of the first activities we planned and was the most consistently used throughout the week. Throughout the week, summer camp participants learned French and English vocabulary and learned how to fold basic heart, cat, and flower designs. Kids especially loved decorating and writing their names on their finished pieces, many of which we hung up in the classroom. We also had one session dedicated entirely to paper planes, which were incorporated in the outdoor activity afterwards.
As far as outdoor activities were concerned, Duck Duck Goose took the crown for the most popular outdoor game across all age groups. Ball counting (passing a ball around in a circle while counting from 1-20) took the least preparation but was the most widely enjoyed–most of the children knew how to count to at least 10 in French, so we introduced English as well. Other games included tag, red light / green light, Simon says, and an assortment of clapping games in French, English, and Sereer.
Two days into summer camp, test results came out for students who had applied to go to middle school in the fall. Upon the admitted students’ request, we started holding higher level English lessons simultaneous with the rest of the program. For those of us who have studied French before, this was probably the most challenging and gratifying experience. Of the half-dozen to dozen students that showed up for English class every day, nearly all of them were fluent in French. Over a few days, we covered English greetings, survival vocabulary, colors, numbers, daily activities, marriage and baptismal vocabulary, and regular/irregular verb conjugations.
Of each activity related to the summer school, the murals that Emma, Magnus, and Alison organized and painted will perhaps have the most impact. The head of the school requested that we create paintings that would teach hygiene. On the main administrative building, we painted a mural depicting children cleaning a classroom. On the bathroom, we painted children washing their hands. Inside of a classroom, a map of Africa was painted to be used as a reference for teachers to use in geography lessons. We hope that the paintings will last for years to come.
The summer camp was undoubtedly the most challenging yet most satisfying experience we have tackled as a group so far. Soon, we will be moving in with our homestay families and begin touring our potential service sites. We hope that we will be able to apply some of the skills we learned during our Ndioukhane week to our work throughout the year.
Until next time!
BY Senegal 2019-20
1st photo : students and summer camp participants gather for the morning song circle
2nd : finished origami tulips hung up in the classroom
3rd : summer camp participants test their paper planes
4th : students painting a wall mural
5th, 6th, 7th : finished wall murals (map of Africa, classroom scene, handwashing)
8th, 9th : group photos in front of the murals