Posts under tag: Senegal
A little over one year after graduating, Clara Broderick, BA in French and International Studies 2014, is sending her greetings from Senegal and grateful thanks to the French faculty and GTFs who helped her navigate academic and post-college paths—Associate Professor of French André Djiffack, Associate Professor of French and Italian Nathalie Hester, Visting Lecturer of French Patrick Moneyang, Associate Professor of French Fabienne Moore, Adjunct Assistant Professor of French Géraldine Poizat-Newcomb, and Ph.D. Candidate and GTF in French Sandra Méfoude. Here are her inspiring adventures!
Since August 2014, I have been living in Dakar because I so enjoyed my study abroad experience here and was eager to step into the new challenges of a professional environment in Senegal. I came back to friends and “family” and old teachers, and really enjoy living in a francophone country. However, it’s my Wolof that is really getting good! (I live with my husband Bara and his family—we got married 10 months ago—and I am enjoying being part of a wider Senegalese community.)
At my arrival, I started working as a preschool teacher in a private bilingual Senegalese school (an almost sure-fire way to find a job in many countries around the world as a young American female). It was a good experience—I helped to set the school up as it was in its first year—but I am now more where I aimed to be. Since May, I have been interning at Save the Children in the West and Central Africa Regional office. I work doing research, editing, and information management activities for the Program Quality Director, who oversees 11 West and Central Africa countries. My favorite projects so far have been those dealing with Save the Children‘s Ebola Recovery Strategy Plans—learning all about how Save the Children reacted to the outbreak in its Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea country offices, and trying to establish more proactive and feasible resiliency plans for these offices in the next few years. (These country offices, like most government systems and non-profit organizations during the outbreak, were overwhelmed and incapacitated).
It’s work that is satisfying to me, and collaborating with kind, dedicated people from all over the world is an absolute pleasure. I find it interesting though that in working at such an organization, I’ve kept my core liberal academic scruples. There is as much to ask and to critique from inside the offices of such a large “charitable” organization as there is from the field or from the outside. No matter where this internship leads, it has already been an extremely fascinating experience in post-grad “real life” as they say.
I do, however, miss academia and the wonderful University that is Oregon. Truly, I think of you all as having been an important part of my four years there, and I hope only that we can keep in contact in the coming years. Obviously, the works that you all do are fundamentally interesting to me, and you remain a sources of inspiration, advice, and memories for me!
As someone who aspires to work with nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations to promote positive sustainable development, I knew international professional experience would be key to my future career success. As an International Studies major with minors in French and African Studies, Senegal appeared to be the perfect location for me to go abroad. I signed up for a six month IE3 internship program with nongovernmental organization Tostan. Tostan is an organization which promotes positive social change through non-formal education in rural Senegal. I immediately fell in love with the work and the people and quickly realized six months was not nearly sufficient to get the sort of professional and cultural experience I was seeking. I quickly extended my trip another six months.
The second half of my internship was where I truly grew both professionally as well as personally. Senegal stopped being a new and shocking experience and started becoming “home.” That was when I truly began to connect with the culture and the people. I started out my internship as Assistant to the National Coordinator in the small city of Thies, Senegal. The work included writing village portraits and international donor reports in French and English. After three months in the position taking on odd jobs, I realized I wanted something with more direction and focus. I transferred departments and became project manager of a partnership focusing on microcredit and maternal health integration. I developed annual budgets, evaluated the first year of collaboration, planned the second, wrote reports, managed donor relations, planned and led project meetings, analyzed project sustainability, created solutions for project challenges, managed project personnel and worked directly with the community to conduct needs analyses. Working so closely with the villagers not only opened my eyes to the realities and hardships of rural life in Senegal but also to the positive social and economic change which can occur when a community is given the tools to manage their own development. I now have a broader perspective on how people live, the realities of global poverty, and what people are capable of achieving when given the opportunity.
The 12 months I spent in Senegal have been the most important and fulfilling of my life. I have discovered my love of development work and have begun to sculpt my future career goals. With my graduation approaching quickly in December, I will be applying for a bilingual Master’s degree in International Development at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, Switzerland. My time spent in Senegal has helped shape my perspective and will continue to contribute and influence my future work.
Justine Jensen is a French minor in the Department of Romance Languages.