Languages@Muhlenberg.edu
Newsletter 2002
 
La Vie du Sénégal à la France
An Internship in Senegal
My name is Andrew Halton and I am a Biochemistry / French double major in my senior year here at Muhlenberg College. This past summer I had the amazing fortune to travel by myself to Senegal in West Africa to work for the Rodale Institute as an intern. Dr. Lisa Perfetti has arranged this interdisciplinary internship with Rodale for the past two years as part of her interests in Francophone cultures. We prepared together for my trip by learning French agricultural terms, studying Senegalese culture/society and learning some phrases in wolof, a local indigenous language. Upon my arrival, I spoke nothing but French and the occasional greeting in wolof (with the exception of helping new friends to learn some random English words). It was amazing to note how quickly I became adapted to speaking French in a more conversational style and how much my speaking skills actually improved during my month long stay in Senegal. At Rodale, I worked with the staff to determine planting and growing strategies, study organic pesticides, assess natural measures to prevent erosion and work with remote villages to start compost piles and grow vegetables. Although the average daytime temperature was well over 100°F and I never saw one drop of rain (despite some of the darkest clouds I have ever seen), the work was extremely rewarding and even fun. I had studied the openness and friendliness of the Senegalese culture with Dr. Perfetti but was not at all prepared for the huge smiles and warm conversation I personally encountered every day.

Besides the work, I had many opportunities to absorb Senegalese life through more social means. I attended a Muslim wedding celebration, a rock concert for people of all ages, shopped at huge markets, and enjoyed meals with new friends. Meals in Senegal were one of the most unique and enchanting experiences of my life. Everyone gathered around a bowl of rice, meat and vegetables on the floor and enjoyed the food together often without silverware. Although odd at first, I quickly realized how inviting and enjoyable such a style of eating was and how conducive it was to great conversation and laughter. I am so grateful to Dr. Perfetti, the Muhlenberg College French Department and to Rodale International for allowing me to partake in this amazing experience.
 
Andrew Halton, '02