There are so many things to talk about Senegal, I'm not sure where to being. Senegal is the western most country in Africa, with it's capital, Dakar, jutting out distinctly into the ocean. It was a former French colony that became an independent state in 1960. It is a very politically stable country, although there is occasional unrest in the southern part of the country, called Casamance, which is semi-isolated from the rest of the country. It is 95% Muslim, however, there is a great deal of acceptance of other religions, including Christianity, and they live together peacefully.
The people of Senegal pride themselves on Terranga - 'hospitality' and are incredibly warm and receptive to others. I will talk more about this later in another post, but the feeling was so strong that it has actually made me reflect on my own community back home.
The students I met on my trip were incredibly warm and eager to get to know me and my culture. They have a difficult time getting to school, as many live far away, cars are unreliable, and there is no consistent public bus service. Many have to walk considerable distance (or ride with others on a horse or donkey-drawn cart), but they do their best. The students I saw worked hard, knowing that their education was their future.
The climate of Senegal is interesting. The northern border is essentially the southern border of the Sahel region. It is very sandy and dry for most the year, with a rainy season between April and August. As you travel further south, you get into the "Dry" Savanna, also called Sudan-Savanna. This area is characterized by increased density of trees and shrubs, but remains distinctly drier than "wet" savanna closer to the Gulf of Guinea. Interestingly, most Atlantic hurricanes that strike the US begin just off the coast of Senegal.
There is so much more to this country than what I am telling here. I will be adding to this blog more of my experiences in Senegal to shed so light on the country, the people and the culture that made a real impact on me.