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Director's Dispatch: Week Without Walls

Last week, 280 students and 42 staff members traveled across Senegal for our traditional Week without Walls trips. The goals of the trips are to provide students the opportunity to learn about Senegal, develop an appreciation for Senegalese culture, interact with Senegalese students, help out the local communities through service opportunities, and learn to work effectively in groups.  The trip locations range from smaller villages, Ndangne, and Toubacouta to a larger city, St. Louis. The itinerary for each trip is designed to take advantage of the surrounding area and local culture.

These are not tourist style trips. The students are staying in tents and small lodges. The activities are planned to give the students new experiences and push them out of their comfort zone. Our students pounded millet, pulled in fishing nets, cleaned fish, and made local food. Each of the groups had service activities where they gave back to the local community.  The service activities included planting trees, renovating a clinic, doing a beach clean-up, and planting seeds in a community garden. The teachers also scheduled time for fun activities, swimming, play games, and time to hang out with their friends.  The vast majority of the students I spoke with upon their return had a good time and found the trips beneficial. Overall, the teachers were pleased and had ideas on how to make the trips even better.

These trips are only possible due to the commitment of the ISD staff. Significant time and effort go into planning  Week Without Walls trips, which is led by Gaucher Kadam, our Service Learning Coordinator, and the grade level trip leaders.  The ISD staff chaperone the students for about 80 hours straight, running the activities, keeping the students safe, and attending to medical issues. It is a significant responsibility.  On behalf of the ISD community, I would like to thank the chaperones for all the time and effort they devoted to the trips.

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