We had a great first outing in Senegal! After breakfast, we took a drive to see how oils are extracted from local plants like the baobab tree and hibiscus plant. While on site, we got to watch a woman soaking the dried hibiscus leaves in preparation for processing. We were then shown the machine used to press and extract oil from the seeds. The baobab oil we witnessed being extracted will be shipped to France, Spain or the US for commercial sale.
The next stop on our journey was to the village of Dany’s old friend, Ndeye. We were welcomed wholeheartedly by the entire village. After Ndeye and her family gave us a tour of their village and surrounding land, we were presented with an amazing feast of rice, chicken and watermelon. As we began to leave the village, the community gathered around us and started singing. All it took was one woman to grab a metal bowl and start drumming to get all of us to take turns dancing in the middle of the crowd.
We ended with a quiet dinner, some card games, and a Wolof/English language exchange between Alfred, Jibby and all the students.
Africa was everything I had hoped for but nothing I expected. You can study a country for an entire semester, as our class did, and still be completely blown away upon arrival. The very first group of students of the University of Cincinnati’s S-Project (Sustainability Social Entrepreneurship in Senegal) arrived in the city of Dakar, Senegal on December 12, 2013. For the next ten days, we had a whirlwind of experiences that gave us a new outlook on life, as well as the purpose of our project. I will now attempt to express what I took away from the trip into words.