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Sharing American Culture in Senegal
By Jade H., YES Abroad 2015-2016, Senegal
During International Education Week, we (YES alumni and YES Abroad students) reached out to high school classes in Dakar to give presentations on American culture. The first presentation I participated in took place at a local Senegalese high school, Thierno Saidou Nourou Tall High School. We gave our presentations to two different upper-level classes, along with a small handful of teachers and other school staff in attendance.
In our first presentation, YES alumnus Simon Pierre Sagna and I led the class in two interactive activities intended to test knowledge of the U.S. and debunk a few common misconceptions about Americans. The first activity was a game. We divided the class into four teams and had students write down as many states as they could think of within a five minute time frame. We weren’t surprised when every team wrote down ‘Washington, D.C.’ but were not expecting answers such as ‘Detroit’ and ‘San Francisco!’ The winning team had around eleven correct states.
For the next activity, Simon and I wrote down several true or false statements about the U.S. on a chalkboard and had the class vote on whether or not they believed a fact was correct. We discovered that most of the students believed almost every adult American owned a gun and that basketball was by far the most popular sport in the U.S. The activities were a great opportunity to teach the students about the U.S. and also correct the students' misconceptions.
After a brief question and answer session, we moved on to the next classroom to give slideshow presentations about our states and answer more questions. Many of the questions students asked revolved around my extracurricular interests in the U.S. and what high school and university are like in America. The students were also curious about the difference between life in the U.S. and in Senegal. After finishing our presentations, we were asked to sing the National Anthem, and afterwards everyone sang a Senegalese song together. At the end of the day, Jason C. said, “International Education Week was a great experience and I cannot wait to go back to the school we visited to spend more time with the students and teachers.”
After thanking one another and posing for a group photo, we went away feeling the day, as well as the week, was a success!
Below: YES Abroad students and YES alumni. From L-R. Jason C., Jade H., Seynabou Camara (YES 2011-12), Dana M., Absa Ndiaye (YES 2012-13), and Simon Sagna (YES 2009-10).