La Vie du
Sénégal à la France
An Internship in Senegal
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
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