It is also a chance to check in with the students, to see how each is faring in one of thenation’s most innovative, unique, and challenging opportunities for undergraduate academicstudy abroad.
Hitting the wall
Some call it “hitting the wall.” Others, the “midterm slump.” “It’s almost like clockwork,” Delehanty had told me during our four-hour car ride fromDakar to Saint-Louis. “It’s sort of a fixture in the study-abroad experience.” And this is no less true in Saint-Louis. By now, some are over the novelty of being called
(white person) in the busy markets. Most are craving hot showers and flush toilets.Others have just said goodbye to boyfriends or siblings who visited for the holidays; now theyare facing another semester before seeing them again.Many of the students will confide to us over that week that if they felt they could leaveright then, they probably would. All of them say they wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.
Learning to judge from within
“These students are not tourists,” Baydallaye Kane, professor of English and the on-siteprogram coordinator at UGB, tells me.His office, on the second floor of the university’s main building, is bright with light fromone whole window of walls. A framed black-and-white photo of Gaston Berger, Saint-Louisnative and Afro-French philosopher, hangs on the wall by the door. “Although we now have a number of exchange programs, the UW program was the first,and is very unique” he says.