Senegal: The Beginning

I was lucky to be chosen to participate in an international youth exchange in 2008.  This was organised through my then work place so I did not have to pay for any of it.  Another employee working at a different branch of the company, Christine, was also selected.  We spent a month and a half in Senegal and it was an amazing trip.

I didn’t know what to expect and I tried to carry no expectations with me and just go and take in the reality of the country.  I was able to for the most part.  Except there were two employees that went the year before and Christine and I spoke to them about their experience.  I didn’t find it helpful.  They couldn’t have been more opposite to us so of course how we perceive things would be and were totally different.

Senegal is the western most country in Africa and is mostly French speaking.  I did struggle a bit but my French improved while I was there.  Even though it was a work trip our agenda had built in sight seeing and with weekends and most evenings off who could complain.  Christine and I stayed with two families.  So for the duration of our trip we were fully immersed in Senegalese life.  The first 3 weeks we were in the capitol city of Dakar.

Christine and Henri

The first family we stayed with was Henri’s family.  He volunteered with the organisation we were doing the exchange with.  This picture shows our home for 4 weeks though it looks nothing like this now.  They were doing renovations to the home near the end of our trip.

Our agenda started off working with kindergarten age kids.  While they were cute, Christine and I got bored with this quickly and asked to switch up our schedule.  So we ended up visiting a lot of other community agencies.

Christine is fully bilingual and she translated a lot for me during our trip.  The health centre we visited was mainly a place where people can get rapid testing for HIV.  A group of Gambians also attended and since they speak English there had to be translation for all of us, I was very happy with that.

The Gambians – great bunch of people

Liberation statue of the slaves – Goreé Island, a port for the slave trade.

The door of no return

Balcony of the Slave House

We ended up visiting Goree Island two times.  The first time we went late in the day on a Saturday.  So it was busy and we had to leave to catch the ferry back.  We returned on a weekday and really got to explore at a more leisurely pace.  The slave house is preserved as it was used back in the day.  It was emotional as one might expect but interesting to see a historical place like that.

Part 2:  Senegal – Villages

Part 3:  Senegal – saying goodbye

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Viajera says:

    This is on my travel list, esp. Goree Island. Beautiful country and people! Just look at the eyes and skin on that kid. I really want to do some volunteering as well, so thanks for the post.

    1. wanderlust82 says:

      Welcome! I have at least 2-3 more posts on Senegal. I will add some volunteering stuff for southern Senegal specifically then. It is an amazing country, this kid was my favourite and I have a few pictures of him, so cute. The experience left such an impression on me, probably also because I left a little of my heart there but that’s another story entirely.

      I am also looking to volunteer abroad but more to incorporate it in my travel plans. I just found a company that looks amazing and it looks like it would be cheaper than just travelling. Also you can do home stays which I think is the best. I’ll put the links up in a post.

  2. Wow. It looks really beautiful there and what an opportunity to go on an exhange programme! I would love to do something like that one day but unfortunately don’t quite count as a youth anymore.

    1. wanderlust82 says:

      It was an amazing opportunity. This one went up to the age of 30. Either way there are a lot of organisations where there is no age limit. It was only in place because of funding requirements.

  3. LFA says:

    I absolutely love your photos. What a wonderful experience for you! ¡Que suerte!

  4. marlothdar says:

    The photos, the cuttest kids with the biggest eyes, the greenest bananas, another way to see the life and look forward to the future. Feelings like that comes from an African experience. I’m a Cameroonian girl living for years in Spain. Africa is my dearest land and read some sweet and deep words from a Canadian about my Africa make me love her even more.

    1. wanderlust82 says:

      Such kind words, thank you!

  5. Jen says:

    You really have done a lot of travelling. How did you fit it all in? You’re still quite young!

    1. wanderlust82 says:

      I didn’t see this comment until now, actually I feel like I haven’t done that much! However, I guess complied it is a fair amount in the last 4 years. I feel like I need to get out there more as any traveller does I suppose.

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