In June 2012, 17 North Carolina educators traveled to Dakar, Senegal to learn about education, religion, and politics there, as part of a group study planned and lead by UNC’s African Studies Center and World View. Participants ranged from kindergarten to community college teachers, included near-retirement “education elders,” first-year novices, principals and administrators; and they came from towns across the state, from Asheville to Edenton. While some were experienced travelers, this group study of contemporary Africa included many participants who had never been abroad before. All participants dove into this learning experience, and they left Senegal with a deepened understanding of this complex and vibrant country in West Africa.
Barbara Anderson, Associate Director for UNC’s African Studies Center and co-leader of the trip, designed this group study to help teachers and administrators gain authentic understanding of important aspects of contemporary Africa. Her second time leading a trip of this nature, Anderson remarked at the unusually engaged nature of this group study to Africa. “Participants were curious, respectful, and fun-loving; but most especially, they were deep learners!” Anderson was able to draw on UNC’s years of collaboration with academics, activists, and professionals in Senegal in order to give participants both intellectual and experiential foundations for the trip. Julie Kinnaird, World View’s Assistant Director for Outreach, attended to group logistical needs and excelled at taking participants into alleyways, kitchens, and shops, where travelers interacted with Senegalese in friendly, intimate, and unusual ways.