In the fall 2013, I will be studying and interning abroad in Senegal, through the University of Minnesota’s Learning Abroad Center. The Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID) program to Senegal will help me on my path to become a better, more understanding, professional in the area of Political Science. Within Political Science I am concentrating in Global Politics. I know that a semester in western Africa will be a challenging, unique, and enriching experience both personally and academically. I chose Senegal because it will provide me with the most diverse intellectual experience in my life thus far. I will be involved in the social realities of the poorer strata of the population, giving me the opportunity to outreach to the local community on various areas of developments. My love for the French language and for different cultures is the reason why I am seeking to supplement my international experiences. Studying and interning in the developing world will complement my global understanding by exposing me to international development in action.
The classes I will be taking while studying in Dakar are: Country Analysis, International Development, Research Methodology, and language courses in French and Wolof. During my time in Senegal I will also participate in a Community Engagement in the Global South Internship; a hands-on, grassroots experience that will allow me to work and conduct research with a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). I will be under the direction of a permanent staff member at the NGO, who has experience in supervision and will assign development-oriented projects and activities. This will help me understand how progress is realized in a regional professional setting. The internship focuses on applied, practical learning, complemented by a thematic paper that reflects on my experience. It will involve at least 25 hours per week of work, and the research objectives will be agreed to by MSID, the agency supervisor and me, upon my arrival in Dakar, Senegal.
Through the classes and internship, I hope to better comprehend how the complex social changes and development in Senegal are reflected in the global context. With my previous life experiences I will be able to put this in a comparative politics perspective allowing me to enrich my academic experience in Political Science and French. This program will also provide me with the opportunity to give back and benefit the community, and that is a fantastic way to show my gratitude to all those who have helped me throughout my journey.