Photo courtesy of Simon Levinson: “Asher Soriano ’16 and Kevin Arbo ’18 lay the foundation for the Lam- baye learning center.”
By Greg Corbin
Over February break, a group of students from Mamaroneck High School’s Students for Senegal club broke out of their comfort zones and traveled to Africa. They were forced to adapt to a change in language and environment, but stood up to the challenge in order to help children in need.
Students for Senegal is a unique club at MHS. The club has worked since its founding in 2010 to build a learning center in Lambaye, Senegal. The organization fundraises with an annual soccer tournament and SeneGALA, both student-run events. They also plan a trip to Senegal for members of the club that are looking to meet, connect and learn about the kids whom they are helping.
This year a group of 24 students signed up for the trip of a lifetime. Led by chemistry teacher Amary Seck, the students set out on Friday, Feb. 12 at 9:00 p.m.
for Dakar, Senegal. They started their journey by touring some of the most interesting landmarks in Dakar, including the Kermel Market, Independence Square and the Presidential Palace. These locations left the students with a taste of Senegalese culture and history. They enjoyed a live Senegalese wrestling match, a major spectator sport and cultural event in Africa. They then topped off the weekend with a traditional Senegalese dinner. Touring Senegal allowed the students to open their minds to what the world is like outside of America.
After touring the country, the club members finally traveled to Lambaye, Seck’s childhood home, and the building site of the learning center. Since the students came from different backgrounds it was hard for them to speak to each other, but they didn’t need to speak the same language in order to communicate. The group got to spend two days in the town, during which they attended classes, distributed equipment and participated in all types of games and activities. Students got the chance to experience the daily lives of Senegalese students and develop relationships with them.
Molly Banks ’18 reflected on her trip: “I will never forget how welcoming everyone was and how appreciative they all were, even for the littlest things. They were so grateful for the supplies and made us feel like we were changing their lives.” The students all agreed that the Senegalese children were so thankful for everything the club was doing.
Over the course of a week, the students not only gave out supplies for the children, but they also made the people feel cared for and loved. According to Seck, “The children were loving and caring for all the people. They were open-minded, adventurous, curious, participated and most of all they wanted to discover the culture that I grew up in.”
Touring and experiencing parts of Africa forced the students to open their minds to what the world is like outside of America. The participants experienced the trip of a lifetime and actualized the mission of Students For Senegal, to make a difference in the lives of others.