Postcolonial Urbanisms in Senegal: Jan 11th – Saint Louis

We woke up at 730 am to drive to Saint Louis. I was finishing the Humanity in Action fellowship application the night before, so I hadn’t even slept one hour. Saint Louis is a 4-5 hour drive from Dakar, and along the way we passed by bustling villages and also calm stretches of fields dotted with palms and baobaobs.

We groggily arrived to our hotel in Saint Louis, right off the bridge connecting Saint Louis to Sano along the river stream, which surprised me with its luxury. There are some days here where I feel like a normal student, and then other days when I feel like I am on vacation. Of course, I am not complaining, but I am intensely aware of these things. I can’t even remember the last time I stayed in a real hotel, and I was trying to recall that for the rest of the afternoon.  It was probably two or three years ago when I was invited to a conference in Qatar. The Qatari government provided all the diplomats and representatives with pretty luxury hotels, and I remember being suspicious of their over-the-top spending for the UN conference. I suppose I also don’t go on “real” vacations – I always stay with friends or acquaintances when I travel – but just because I can’t afford to stay in hotels doesn’t mean that I am not “privileged” in many ways. Still, I was intensely aware of where we were staying in Saint Louis, and what that meant, especially when we met the other group of architecture students. They were mostly Senegalese, studying architecture in Dakar, and they had come to Saint Louis for the weekend as well, to explore its history and architecture. We joined with them to listen to their professor, a practicing architect, talk about Saint Louis’s restoration efforts. The students were all intensely friendly, and I especially liked one of the girls in the group, and one of the guys from Chad. The girl told me that we were staying in one of the most expensive hotels in Saint Louis, and that they weren’t even staying the second night in Saint Louis in order to save a night at the hotel.

Questions: 1. How often do Senegalese students get to go on field trips for their studies? I realize this is an extremely broad question, but for example, anthropology or architecture students.

2. What percentage of students in Senegal come from neighboring or nearby countries in Africa?

3. Do most students in Senegal have the opportunity to study in Europe/other areas if they secure acceptance and the financial means? Would they have visa problems?

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