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The Peace Corps program in Senegal began in 1963, primarily with English teachers. An early rural development program set the stage for Peace Corps' important presence in rural areas. Volunteers currently work in projects, focused on the needs of rural people. Volunteers are assigned to small-scale projects helping individuals and communities with needs ranging from improved farming techniques to primary health education. All Volunteers are trained to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS and various other life skills themes.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Senegal
The Peace Corps program in Senegal began in 1963 with the assignment of 15 English teachers to secondary schools around the country. In the ensuing years, the program has grown considerably. On average, about 120 Volunteers work in a wide range of projects throughout Senegal.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Senegal
Most Volunteers live in rural areas, especially those who work in the agriculture, natural resources, and environmental education sectors. For safety and cultural reasons, Volunteers are usually housed in family compounds, where accommodations range from a cement-block room with a tin roof to a traditional hut with a thatched roof. The Peace Corps requires that all housing have screens to protect against mosquitoes and other insects, a lock, and a concrete floor. Additionally, bathing and toilet facilities must meet Peace Corps standards. Prospective Volunteers are encouraged to bring pictures and other decorations to “make their hut a home.”
Main article: Training in Senegal
Pre-service training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. The objective is to provide you with solid technical, language, and cross-cultural knowledge to prepare you for living and working successfully in Senegal. The training uses an experiential approach wherever possible; thus, rather than reading or hearing about Volunteer activities, you will practice, process, and evaluate actual or simulated activities.
A welcome committee led by the Peace Corps country director and the training director will meet you at the airport. The committee will help you collect your baggage, go through customs formalities, and load your baggage on rented buses.
Because trainees’ baggage has occasionally been left somewhere en route, we advise you to carry essential items, toiletries, and enough clothing for three days in your carry-on luggage. Be certain to clearly and securely label all your baggage before checking it at the airport.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Senegal
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Senegal maintains a clinic with three full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary health care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Senegal at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an American medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Senegal
In Senegal, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Senegal.
Outside of Dakar, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Senegal are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Senegal
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Senegal?
- What is the electric current in Senegal?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Senegalese friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Senegal?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing List for Senegal
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Senegal and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Senegal.
We recommend that you bring a minimal amount of clothing. Although ready-made imported clothing is expensive in Senegal, local tailors can produce custom-made pants, shirts, and dresses for less than the cost of ready-made equivalents in the United States. Making use of these tailors will free up some packing space for other things and ensure that your clothes are suitable for the climate. Likewise, toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, razor blades, and deodorant can be found in Senegal, so bring only enough to last you through the 11-week training period. Also bring items that will make you feel a little like your old self in a completely new and strange home.
Remember to bring 18 photos with you for purposes such as visas and ID cards. These photos need not be expensive; those taken in a photo booth will suffice. Two final bits of advice: When packing, choose items that are modest, not ostentatious, and if in doubt, leave it out.
- General Clothing
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Miscellaneous Essential Items
- Nice to Have but Not Essential
Peace Corps News
- K-Staters reflect on their experiences in Peace Corps - K-State Collegian (Mar 04)
- Vienna Native Heads to Peace Corps in Senegal - Sun Gazette (Mar 03)
- Brandeis among Peace Corps' top volunteer-producing schools - Wicked Local (Feb 26)
- Cornell Leads Ivies in Number Of Peace Corps Alumni - Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun (blog) (Feb 20)
- Sarah Kopper: Finding a good fit - MSUToday (Feb 19)
- UC Berkeley ranks among top universities to produce Peace Corps volunteers - Daily Californian (Feb 13)
- Cornell ranks No. 5 for Peace Corps recruits - Cornell Chronicle (Feb 11)
- UVM among Peace Corps' top volunteer-producing colleges & universities - vtdigger.org (Feb 11)
- Peace Corps supporters' list includes Allegheny College - GoErie.com (Feb 11)
- ESF among Top Producers of Peace Corps Volunteers - SUNY-ESF Headlines (Feb 11)
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Tuesday March 11, 2014 )
Contributions to the Senegal Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Senegal. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Senegal
- Friends of Senegal and The Gambia
- Inspector General Reports
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- List of resources for Senegal