2021 Westminster Schools Senegal Service Adventure
May 25, 2021 -
June 5, 2021
Dates are tentative until flights are secured
Airfare not included in program tuition
|Deadline(s):||Enrollment deadline forthcoming|
Review all materials
What to Expect
Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.
We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers, but given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but if inclement weather pushes us off course or an unexpected opportunity arises which travelers are excited about, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group.
|May 25||USA - Dakar, Senegal||Today the group will fly from the US to Dakar, Senegal.||Airplane|
|May 26||Dakar||The group lands in the capital city of Dakar and will head to our hotel which sits right on the coast. We'll spend most of this day resting, relaxing and recuperating from our long day of travel. We'll also make time to have an orientation meeting, visit a bank to exchange money and possibly visit with the Peace Corps office. If local language classes are of interest, they can be arranged in Dakar upon request.||Hotel Calao|
|May 27||Dakar||We will spend most of this day touring Goree Island which was the departure point for millions of Africans during the centuries-long slave trade and sits just off the coast of Dakar. We'll explore the island with a local guide and, time allowing, explore some of the bigger artisanal markets in the capital.||Hotel Calao|
|May 28||Dakar - Host Community||Today we depart for the host community. The drive time will vary depending on the precise location of the community as well as traffic conditions, but we'll aim to arrive in the afternoon. We’ll tour the community and place students with their respective families. We may even begin service work this day as well!||Host Family|
|May 29||Host Community||This chunk of time represents the heart and soul of the program. Students will volunteer on meaningful service project/s during the day while also enjoying sufficient free time to hang out with host families and fellow travelers, practice language skills and explore the surrounding area. At the end of our time in the host community we'll help organize a going away party to celebrate the time with our new friends and family. For more information regarding what time in the host community will look like please refer to the section on this webpage titled Partner Communities.||Host Family|
|May 30||Host Community||We will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families.||Host Family|
|May 31||Host Community||We will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families.||Host Family|
|June 1||Host Community||We will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families.||Host Family|
|June 2||Host Community||We will continue working on our service project and spending time with host families.||Host Family|
|June 3||Host Community - Mbour||The group will depart the host community and travel to Mbour on the central Atlantic coast of Senegal. After arriving at a lovely hotel we’ll spend the day resting, relaxing and swimming in the ocean!||Pierre de Lisse|
|June 4||Mbour - Bandia National Park - Dakar||Today the group will embark on a safari in one of Senegal’s best game parks! We'll tour a large swath of savannah in a jeep with our English-speaking tour guide and marvel at a wide range of impressive animals. This evening we will head back to Dakar and enjoy our last evening together in the country.||Hotel Calao|
|June 5||Dakar - USA||Travel back to USA||Your own bed, eventually!|
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In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three-star equivalent hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.
La Pierre de Lisse
A small paradise about 45 minutes from Dakar, La Pierre de Lisse is true oasis located on the beach of Toubab Dialaw. Students will stay in private cabanas of stone walls and thatch roofs scattered throughout a large, exotic garden. Internet access throughout in the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.
Hotel Le Calao du Lac Rose
This lovely, family-run property is a short distance from the international airport near an enchanting pink salt lake. The ocean-front hotel is located on beautiful grounds where students stay in individual cabanas surrounded by flower and tree-lined paths. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.
This will be the best part of your trip! Staying with a host family immerses you in the language and culture of the destination, and can lead to deep and lasting relationships with your hosts. Initially intimidating but ultimately unforgettable, there’s no better way to begin to truly understand the place you’re visiting.
Once your flight has been secured the itinerary will appear here. Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.
Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.
We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, but travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.
FLIGHT INTERRUPTION DELAY OR CANCELLATION
Air travel is unpredictable, especially in a pandemic. Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc. Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route. Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night. Our primary role will be to keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a quick and effective resolution.
Host Community and Project Details
An average service project depends completely on the needs of each community and can vary greatly from year to year. Service projects are planned together with the SSA Country Director and community organizers. The project will always benefit the entire community and is chosen and approved by community leaders. Walking Tree staff never decides what service project is done, rather projects are always proposed by local community leaders as they are most in tune with the needs of the community. In the past, our groups have constructed latrines, constructed rooms on community buildings and participated in beautification projects.
What follows is a sample packing list but you know yourself better than we do so please adjust accordingly. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on daily outings, weekend excursions and shorter activities.
“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The list below should cover everything you would need, but know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with. We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.
Finally, we recommend consulting a weather forecast for your destination.
Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT!
CLOTHES: (quantities depend on your trip length)
- 6-8 pairs of underwear
- 6-8 pairs of socks (a mixture of good hiking socks and casual socks)
- 2 pairs of soccer socks to cover your legs during the day at the work site
- 4-6 t-shirts (some quick dry)
- 2-3 light-weight, long sleeve shirts
- 1 light sweater or sweatshirt
- 1 light rain jacket
- 2-4 pairs of travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
- 2-3 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
- 1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions)
- 1 pair of durable athletic/hiking shoes
- 1 pair of sandals (optional for beach)
- 1 pair of work gloves
- 1 swim suit
- 1 good sun hat
*Important Note for Female Travelers: In the interest of being respectful while still allowing travelers to be comfortable under the heat, (in public at least) shirts should cover shoulders and shorts or skirts/dresses should be conservative- that is, thighs, shoulders and decollete should be covered.
TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS
- Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
- Mosquito repellent (you will use a lot)
- Band Aids and Neosporin
- Hand Sanitizer
- Prescription medication in properly marked original container
- Biodegradable soap, shampoo, etc. That is to say, vegetable-based, biodegradable, and phosphate-free.
- Journal and pen
- Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
- Power Converter and Adapter: Senegal runs on voltage of 230 Frequency of 50 Hz. Power sockets types: C / D / E / K
- Alarm Clock and watch
- Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
- Durable water bottle
- Water filtration device
- 1 quick-dry towel
- Extra batteries
- Deck of cards or other portable games
- Host family gift
- STUDENT ID
- French/English Dictionary
Travelers often contact us regarding what an appropriate gift might be for their student’s host family. Host families are often curious about where our students come from and their families in the U.S. As such, we recommend a simple gift that describes, represents or depicts your home. Well-received gifts in the past have included calendars or picture/coffee table books from your city or state, a framed picture of your family, paraphernalia from a local sports team, toys, soccer balls, school supplies, or something produced or grown in your hometown, like chocolate, local candy, t-shirts, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to worry about this… Anything, no matter its value, will be well received!
At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.
Senegal Country Director
University Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis – M.A Applied Foreign Languages (English and Spanish), Tourism and Conference Interpreting.
Fina was born and raised in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. Later, due to her passion for languages, she went to Saint-Louis to continue her studies. After her master’s degree in 2008, she joined a British organization arranging trips for foreigners in developing countries around the world. Fina was in charge of welcoming young students to her country, who were coming to help and support local people in hard living conditions. With 9 years of experience working in multicultural environments, she is open-minded and very involved in social action. Furthermore, Fina is a member of cultural and social associations that give priority to the well-being of children and women in Africa.
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO
Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History
During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents. Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.
Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.
Blog and Communication
During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program. Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.
Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.
Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.
Standards of Behavior
In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE
- Failure to abide by COVID-19 restrictions.
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
- Possessing weapons.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
- Getting a piercing or tattoo.
- Being out after curfew.
- Breaking group rules.
These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.
Health and Safety
We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Senegal website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.
Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.
Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.
We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.
While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.
To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry. Begin by getting a quote here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of the date your initial payment or your deposit for your trip is received. You must also insure 100% of the prepaid, non-refundable trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions and cancel 48 hours or more before your scheduled trip departure date.