Making the World a Better Place, this Summer in Senegal
After spending their first four weeks studying in Dakar, 19 students will go to eco-villages in the Senegal River Valley to explore community development projects in public health, women's micro-financing, solar electricity and organic gardening.
Published: Thursday, July 01, 2010
Excerpted from a UCLA Today article by Jessica Tang
NO CLASSES, no homework, no tests, no grades — for many students, summer is long-awaited liberation from the demands of the school year.
But for some, summer presents a whole new academic opportunity. At UCLA, 15,235 students are enrolled in Summer Sessions. Offering nearly 500 classes that are not limited to UCLA students, the program draws enrollees from around the world. This year, more international students — 1,227 — than ever before are enrolled, some from as far away as American University in Cairo, which regularly sends Egyptian students to Westwood for summer classes.
Pursuing a wide range of goals, Summer Sessions students include incoming freshmen getting a head start on first-year classes, undergrads with an eye to changing the world, and students at all grade levels plugging into innovative online courses.
Senegal Travel Study Program
Nineteen students interested in making the world a better place are on their way to Africa for Summer Session's new eight-week Senegal Travel Study Program, which started June 28 and runs through August 22.
"This program was a sleeper hit this year," Micham said. "We didn't think so many people would be interested in traveling so far to West Africa."
Focusing on the topic of sustainable community development, the course will combine theoretical and hands-on learning in economic, ecological and social development in a small suburb outside of Dakar, the capital city of Senegal.
Andrew Apter, professor and director of the African Studies Center, is helping to lead the trip. "Our philosophy is to combine economic plus ecological means of achieving sustainability in environmentally-challenged regions with arid climates," he said.
The UCLA Institute of the Environment, led by Academic Director and Ecology Professor Cully Nordby, will help lead the Senegal project. Also partnering is the non-governmental organization Earth Rights Eco-Village Institute.
After spending their first four weeks studying theory and practice in Dakar, students will then go to eco-villages in the Senegal River Valley in Northwestern Senegal, where they will explore community development projects such as public health, women's micro-financing, solar electricity and organic gardening. Cultural and language learning will also take place through home stays and training in French and Wolof, the most widely spoken language in Senegal.
"This course," said Apter, "shows a new undergraduate momentum in service learning" — the intertwining of classroom and applied learning.