Doug May, senior music education major, looked around him. He was at a Saturday market that spanned for miles between the lanes on the street, and he took it all in.
“I love this place so, so much,” he said.
May, as part of his two required placements to fulfill his major, has spent the first part of his English and music student teaching in Dakar, Senegal.
“I’ve been so blessed by these students, and I just can’t believe that I’ll be leaving them so soon,” he said.
May has been in Dakar since January and said he has loved his time abroad learning about a new culture.
“They have such a tightly knit community in a way that I’ve never seen before. I was amazed by how quickly I was enveloped into the culture of the Dakar Academy,” he said. “They’ve helped and loved me in a way that I haven’t felt outside of my own family stateside.”
The first weekend after he arrived, he went on a missionary trip with students.
“It was way out into the continent, my very first weekend here, but I ended up meeting a really good friend on that mission trip,” he said. “He lives in Dakar with his father and two sisters, and he invited me to come to his him and have dinner, which is one of my favorite memories.”
May said they enjoyed Poulet Yassa, a national favorite dish of chicken and onions, and after the meal they looked through old photos with his family and had Attaya, a strong Senegalese tea made to share with friends.
Along with seeing glimpses into the culture through his friend’s family, May visited a piece of the country’s history on a trip to Gorée Island and spent the day at a West African Softball Tournament.
Being abroad is not a new experience for May. He traveled to Angers, France in 2013, and although he said the experiences are completely different, he knows having studied abroad before helped him to feel more comfortable with coming to Senegal.
Victoria Malone, coordinator of study abroad and assistant professor of language, knew May was prepared to be abroad again.
“He spent time in France, and now, I think it’s amazing that he is learning about other parts of the Francophone world,” Malone said. “[May] is getting to experience a new culture, learn more of the language, and take advantage of a great opportunity.”
On his way to Senegal in January, May had a layover in Paris, where he got to spend the day visiting with a friend and revisiting parts of the city that had left him with many great memories.
“Doug is the kind of person who will bring joy wherever he is,” said Kalee Hall, senior English and French major. “When we studied abroad together in France we were in the same class so we spent almost everyday together. We had such a great time. He’s so jubilant, so excited about life, and when you’re around him, It’s hard not to feel the same way. I’m sure he’s brought a great energy to his school and I just think he could do whatever he wants to do. He could do well anywhere.”
May departed from Senegal on Wednesday, March 11 and will spend two days in New York before traveling back to Tennessee to spend the remainder of the spring semester student teaching at Jackson Christian School before May graduation.