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Out of Africa
(continued from page 20)

Each day, Halton and the Rodale staff members visited a different village, working directly with the African people so that they could try to implement the new farming methods themselves.
Overall, Halton was quite impressed by how friendly the people were. "For the first time in my life, to be a minority was sort of strange but the people welcomed me," he says. "They had no problem, for example, inviting me to a Muslim wedding even though I wasn't Muslim."
The people frequently asked him to dinner and engaged him in many thoughtful conversations. He was surprised at the degree to which the natives of Senegal were totally self-sufficient Ñ almost entirely reliant upon themselves for survival [as opposed to having governmental programs and aid]. "They appreciate everything; the smallest gesture gets the same degree of appreciation - the people are appreciative of the littlest things that we would consider dispensable," he says.
Considering this, Halton admits that he thought he would feel sorry for the people, but found them to be a lot happier than many Americans. "Their lives were so much simpler," he says. "They were able to focus a lot more on each other, their families and their friends."
Adam Deising '01 was the first Muhlenberg student to go to Africa through the Rodale Institute's internship program in the summer of 2000. Now in medical school, Deising says he would like to go back to Africa to use his skills
as a physician to help people in the way he helped people agriculturally during his trip
to Senegal.
He also believes that this overseas experience set him apart from other applicants to med school, adding that this experience was a good fit with what he is doing now, since during the internship he was indirectly helping people to survive by teaching them the new agricultural methods.
Deising says he would recommend the Senegal experience to any Muhlenberg student looking to do something a little different than his or her peers, but cautions that the trip to Africa is "for people who want a challenge. We're used to our western ways of living and in Africa it's completely different. You have to not mind, for example, sleeping on a hard floor and you have to be dedicated to the hard work involved."
Rodale's Michael Bassey, Halton's internship supervisor, says, "Rodale has been very pleased with the two Muhlenberg students who have so far participated in the program. They have been very willing to learn about rural development and to work closely with Rodale staff under difficult conditions."
Bassey adds that since Halton and Deising were only able to spend a month each in Senegal, it was difficult to establish a program to which the students can contribute significantly. He hopes to lengthen the internship, matching students with specific projects in Senegal.
Perfetti would like to foster the relationship Muhlenberg has with Rodale, hoping to establish a regular source of funding to cover the considerable costs of the experience.
Halton, who has applied to graduate school and would someday like to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry and contribute to development of gene therapy, says this internship experience will benefit him following his Muhlenberg graduation. Aside from the agricultural knowledge he gained and actively acquainting himself with the Senegalese, Halton says he realized that "in whatever arena I choose to pursue, I can help people - even simple things can help
other people immensely."

Photo of Senegal.

 

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