State College of Florida Collegiate School (SCFCS) students got a front seat view of life in Senegal during a Peace Corps presentation during Peace Corps Week earlier this month. Kristen L. Anderson, program director of special programs at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) and a former Peace Corps volunteer, was one of the presenters, along with her son Ian Thompson, a Peace Corps volunteer who joined via Skype with about 15 students in Senegal.
The presentation included other former Peace Corps volunteers working at SCF and Jesse Durst, a former SCFCS student who recently joined the Peace Corps and is heading to Vanuatu, a string of islands in the South Pacific. Anderson, who served in Niger in the 1980s, also was joined by Matthew Keirle, who served in Paraguay in the 1990s and who organizes an annual Peace Corps event at the school, Brian Sidoti, who served in Nicaragua in the 1990s and Anita Rogers, who served in Afghanistan in the 1960s. Each presented information on the countries they served and what they did as volunteers. But the highlight of the program for the SCFCS students was being able to talk to their peers in Senegal. Thompson translated most of the conversation.
The Collegiate School students, mostly seventh graders, asked questions about homework, studies, sports and daily life in Senegal. The SCFCS students wondered if their counterparts strictly obeyed their parents. The answer was a resounding yes and they didn’t mind doing so. Students in Senegal said they get up early to fetch water from a community well, build a fire and cook breakfast before heading to school at 7 a.m. Most of the Senagalese students spoke at least three languages. Their favorite sport in Senegal was soccer. The nearly 70 SCFCS students were a little in awe of the African students who rose so early and had so many responsibilities. They talked about the similarities in homework and learning and the differences in everyday life. The SCFCS students had a list of sports they enjoyed, including baseball, football, soccer and tennis.
Students from Salemata, Senegal, a village of about 5,000, were excited to see their pen pals at the Collegiate School. Eighth graders from SCFCS have been writing to the African students all year and a couple of those SCFCS students made a special appearance during the video conference. Thompson set up a later session with the pen pals so they could meet one another “face-to-face.”
For more information, contact Anderson at AnderskL@SCF.edu or 941-752-5257.