Encountering Senegal – Bienvenue!

On the evening of May 6, a Friday night, fifteen Goshen College students flew into Blaise Diagne International Airport. The airport is 45 kilometers east of Dakar and some 25 kilometers from Thiès where the Goshen College Senegal program is located. We piled luggage on the roof of our bus and drove 25 minutes to John Huffmann and the C.A.F.E. where students had a snacky supper and then headed to bed. The C.A.F.E. is the welcome center for the Evangelical Baptist Church in Thiès. The church is an important partner with Goshen College. There is a large classroom at the C.A.F.E. and a dormitory capable of housing our students. We use the classroom for our language classes and academic lectures and students begin and end their time in Senegal with stays at the C.A.F.E.


Saturday morning students woke to a light breakfast cooked by Jaqueline and her helpers. Jaqueline is our first mother-away-from-home and a wonderful cook. Soon after breakfast, Pastor Francois Bagne Ndione and his wife Cici introduced us to some basic customs and greetings in Senegal. It was the students first day in the country so we asked Charles to translate the French into English for us.

After some orientation, Jaqueline served a meal of ceebu jën and students got their first taste of the deep and tasty culinary tradition in Senegal. Ceebu jën is sometimes referred to as the “national dish” of Senegal and includes fish, rice and a variety of vegetables.

During the heat of the early afternoon, students rested and then took their first taxi rides to downtown Thiès where they explored banks, the central market, buying and selling in a variety of contexts and spent a lot of time trying to figure out phones (I won’t write a commentary here on the amount of our attention we give to these objects, but, “oh, my”). Eventually, everyone found their way to “Chez Goshen” for a light supper and first-day check-ins. Chez Goshen is the apartment where Kendra, David and family are living and we will be meeting there once a week for food, worship and learning.


Sunday we attended church with our Senegalese hosts at the C.A.F.E. In the afternoon, our final student, Samuel, arrived and within an hour or two of his arrival everyone had met their host family and was spending the evening getting to know people in our Senegalese homes.

Fearless travel leader Axel …. outside the airport wandering if we are headed in the right direction
Loading luggage on the bus
SST Senegal 2022 (minus Samuel and all the Senegalese hosts) on board the Chez Goshen Bus.
Late night snack before bed at the CAFE on the first night in Thiès.
Charles translates while and Pastor Francois and his wife Cici help orient GC students
Kendra provides some initial instruction as Sam, Brandon, Suzanna and Bree contemplate ceebu jën.
Jonah, Emma, Anna, Yacine, Gabe, and Emma sharing a meal
Olivia meets members of the Sene family.
Bree meets members of the Diallo family
Brandon meets Senegalese father, Mr. Fall
Sam and Madame Traore
Samuel and Madame Sène
Jonah and a member of the Niang family
Caleb and members of the Ndiaye family
Anna and members of the Diatta family
Emma and Madame Samb
Axel and Madame Diallo
Gabe and a member of the Ngom family
Emma and members of the Ndione family
Ryan with members of the M’Baye family
Mira with Madame Manga
Suzanna with Madame Diouf
Birch with members of the M’Baye family