I do not depart for orientation until the end of June. Thus, it would seem that I have plenty of time to continue my preparation for this seminar abroad. However, because I will not only travel to Africa, but also to Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York with 8th graders, to Alabama on a Teaching American History grant to study the Civil Rights movement (see my blog, agrovesalabama.blogspot.com), and to Cabo San Lucas on a family vacation prior to the trip to Senegal this summer, precision planning must become my motto. Here's what's happening at this juncture:
All medical appointments are completed.
Yellow fever shot - check
Typhoid shot - check
Malaria pills picked up - check
More information has arrived from seminar directors, Mbye Cham and Samba Gadjigo. The new itinerary includes activity details for each day. Admittedly, I have read through this most exciting new material more than once, imagining myself at each event, meeting my colleagues, planning the curriculum focus for the project which I will present toward the end of the month in Senegal. I am a sponge. To learn as much as I can before I depart, I have done several things. I have ordered and watched "Globetrekker" DVDs about West Africa. I have ordered a "Traveler's French CD" course to review and add to what little French I remember from high school. French is the official language when doing business in Senegal. Wolof is also spoken. The orientation in Boston will include Wolof language lessons. There is pre-orientation reading to be done as well. My students would relate this to the summer reading required for some honors and AP classes as they move on to high school. These books include African History; A Very Short Introduction, and Mistaking Africa, Curiosities, and Inventions of the American Mind. There are also short videos that are accessed on You Tube which are recommended by our directors.
My traveling colleagues and I have begun to meet each other via a social website. Not all of us are using the site yet, but the comments and suggestions some have written have been heartening and helpful. It seems we are teachers from a variety of disciplines, which should be great fun.
No, I do not depart until the end of June, but am hoping that this documentation of pre-trip events and thoughts may be helpful to those considering applying for the Fulbright Hays Seminars Abroad, or a similar program. My students and their families are also on my heart as I write to include them in my experiences. While this experience will enrich my life, I feel a great responsibility to "pass it on". Do let me know if you have questions along the way. As my study tour unfolds, my commitment is to share this unique opportunity with you.