Student and village sustainable development projects

The 18 Living Routes/EcoYoff students in the Spring 08 Semester in Sustainable Community Development in Senegal, offered by the EcoYoff Living & Learning Center, in collaboration with Living Routes and the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst carried out new sustainable development projects and service learning with the ecovillagers of Mbam.

 

Including the village teams, the learning family participating in the Living Routes program increased to more than 100 people.

PowerPoints presenting their work are at the links to right, under their group picture. These projects fulfill the requirements of two Independent study (IS, UMass Anthropology: 396) and Service Learning (SL, UMass Honors: 397).

PowerPoint presentations

(optimized for viewing using

Windows Internet Explorer. They still are not fully visible)

In fact, every development project consists of a research component --in this case, "independent study," -- and an implementation component, in the form of "service learning" with and for villagers.

Student/village teams produced new projects, in addition to service learning projects, which diffuse technical knowledge about existing activities

 

New Projects

Service Learning

American and Senegalese students work in pairs or teams with villagers, consult development experts, collect and analyze some data and practice participatory action research methods that  are a staple part of international community development. Most GEN Senegal programs started as student or internship projects. Please see the largest of these in the youtube film on www.sem-fund.org.

Soon after arriving in Dakar students visit their study village, to complete their cultural orientation and meet with villagers and village teams. The villagers share their needs and aspirations. Together students and villagers define learning goals and projects and enter into work relationships and friendships that continue to develop throughout the semester by phone, during a last pre-planning visit in week 8 and, and a three-week project period, wks 10 - 13. 

A nice thing about getting to know the villagers so well, is that students don't need to do team projects with other students if their interests don't match. Each student can focus in on working with his/her village counterpart(s) - for instance with a traditional healer on preserving traditional medicinal plants.  Most of the villages have French speaking intellectuals.

In this way in Mbam, a class of 9 American students and 9 Senegalese students participated in reinforcing ecovillage design education (EDE) concepts and activities, created friendships and generated new activities and interests in creating a better world.