Study Abroad in Mali
I am currently living in Bamako, Mali, a predominantly Muslim, landlocked country located in francophone West Africa. Bamako, Mali's capital, is crowded and dusty, with innumerable outdoor markets and tempting dishes being cooked everywhere you walk.
I am living with the Kamissoko family in a small neighborhood called Lafiabougou. The Kamissokos, like many Malian families, are polygamous and I share my horne there with numerous brothers, sisters, uncles, nieces, and grandparents. This corning Friday is the last day of Ramadan and so my family is currently busy cooking, buying new clothes, and preparing for the "grand fete" and, it seems, quietly looking forward to the end of a month of fasting and abstention.
The title of the program in which I am emolled is SIT Mali: Gender, Health, and Development. This program was especially attractive to me because it brought together aspects of my two fields of study. The program includes four classes:
- Seminar in Gender, Health, and Development — This class includes various lectures by Malian activists, doctors, and professors as well as several excursions to local NGOs, museums, cultural events, etc.
- French — Students, at the beginning of the semester, were divided into different levels. The goal of each class is to improve our conversational fluency.
- Bambara — Bambara is the most widely spoken local language and used much more commonly than French, even in the capital city.
- Field Study Seminar — The goals of FFS are to prepare students for the final component of the semester—a month long independent study project, designed and carried out by the student during the last four weeks of the program.
This has already been an exhilarating experience. I am sure that my sense of wonder and frustration and thrill and heartbreak—as well as the moments of self-revelation—will not cease, even long after the semester's end.
Caroline is a junior major with a double major in women's and gender studies