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In the Photo: Madeline Balchan, Senegal '11, Washington University in St. Louis


Senegal will welcome you with open arms and teach you to greet each day with “peace only.”

In the West African country of Senegal, community is a way of life. Time is fluid. And terranga (Wolof for hospitality) underlies every interaction. Take a step back from the deadlines and individualism of the West and become part of a community. Learn to see the world—and yourself—in a whole new way.

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Located at the westernmost point of the continent, Senegal contains a rich mix of oceanfront, grasslands, and rainforest coverage. With towering baobab trees, rolling plains, thriving cities, and turquoise waters – Senegal knows how to make an impression.

The Wolof people make up almost half of Senegal’s population, but you’ll also see the influence of many other ethnic groups. Decades of French rule have also left a cultural mark. French, Wolof, and other languages intertwine. You’ll enjoy both baguettes and couscous with stew from a communal bowl.

Whether helping your neighbors harvest, sewing yeres, teaching English, or making peanut-butter, you’ll soon learn to embrace a more fluid understanding of time. Replace your checklists with relationships. Replace “I” with “We”. Because sometimes there is nothing more important than good conversation and drinking attaya tea with your Senegalese family and friends.

Want to see more? Check out videos by Fellows Cameron Carrick ’14, Quest University, and Alex Ding ’14, University of Chicago.

Senegalese cuisine is made to be shared. 

Prepare to enjoy these Fellow favorites!

  • Ceebu JenSenegal’s national dish is a tomatoey mix of fish, rice and cooked vegetables similar to Spanish paella and Creole jambalaya. It’s a typical lunchtime meal for Fellows along the coast.
  • Yassa Poulet – Enjoy this savory dish of rice with chicken in an onion lemon sauce.
  • Cere ak soow – Brown couscous with thick, sweet yoghurt and raisins is a treat eaten on special occasions.

Learn French, the official language of Senegal, through immersion, tutoring, and Rosetta Stone. You will also have the opportunity to learn Wolof, Pulaar, or Sereer, depending on your homestay. Get a head start with these common phrases!

  • Kaay agne – Wolof for “Come eat!” Be a stranger or a family member, you will be invited to eat into the homes of those you’re passing to share a meal! Senegalese consider it an honor to share their food, and no matter how full you are, accept!
  • Jamm rekk- Wolof for “Peace only.” Senegalese greetings can be very long and elaborate with repeated use of this phrase.

Listen to the sounds of Senegal

With an audio blog from Fellow Alice Brower and some popular Senegalese music


Engage, learn, and contribute through an apprenticeship in your community. 

Instead of just one apprenticeship during their gap year, Senegal Fellows tend to have looser schedules that allow them to participate in a multiple of community projects. Education, Agriculture, Environmental Conservation, and Social Enterprise are the most common sectors.

Environmental Conservation

Learn about and contribute to environmental conservation efforts in Senegal. You could be working on projects like the conservation of native species or the protection Senegal’s wetlands.

Social Enterprise

Work with local organizations making a difference in their communities. You might assist at a local radio station or help local organizations on campaigns ranging from AIDS awareness to microcredit and women’s empowerment.


Become a teaching assistant at the pre-school, elementary, middle, or high school level. Help teachers in develop lesson plans, teach English, and engage their students.

Public Health

Get valuable first hand experience in international public health. You could be providing support at a local community health center and/or helping social workers with health education and vaccination campaigns.


There is no better way to understand Senegal than by experiencing daily life with a host family.

Homestays range from urban cities to rural communities, and families come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. In all cases, host families are carefully selected and trained by Global Citizen Year. Each Fellow is matched one-to-one with a host family to ensure a truly immersive experience.

“There is a saying that here in Senegal, if you’re in the house, you’re family. There’s always enough room at the bowl for you. This collective sense of belonging is… quite beautiful.”

More from Jose Cruz ’15, American University

“As I searched the market for ingredients and drinks with Juma and Aissatou, I realized how at home I felt when I was the one who knew where to find the fattest chickens.”

More from Kaityln Johnke ’14, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

“I sit on this woven mat beneath the vast twinkling stars, watching my sisters giggle over my photo album and listening to my yaay (mother) humming as she sits beneath the mango tree.”

More from Sophia Richter ’15, Alma College

Ready for adventure?

Learn more about our application process and take the first step on an awesome journey.

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