By Seynabou Camara, YES 2011-2012, Senegal, hosted by CCI in Augusta, GA
YES alumni in Senegal, together with American Councils staff and YES Abroad students, were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with the president of American Councils, Dr. Dan Davidson, on a hot September day in Dakar. Everyone joined together around a festive table in the American Councils Office, full of inspirational posters that catch the eye, to share their stories over pastries and juice.
Each person shared a little about themselves and their hopes for the future. Dr. Davidson shared what he had seen and learned while in Senegal, opening the door to an enlightening and lively discussion about the pressing challenges the country faces. From pollution, to waste management, to the power that elders wield, the alumni were awed by the deep understanding that Dr. Davidson seemed to have of the challenges facing their country, and youth in particular. Encouraging the alumni to seek solutions, Dr. Davidson shared how impressed he was by the young people he had met in Senegal and the hope they had for a bright future. “I have not seen this type of hope [among] the young in many other countries I have visited,” Dr. Davidson remarked. “I applaud your efforts and commitment to making your country a better place.”
The meeting ended with a surprise: Dr. Davidson presented the Alumnus of the Year Award to Dame Sakho (YES ’15) who has been one of the most active and creative alumni since his return from the U.S. In addition to being a leader of alumni activities in Kaolack, as the city’s YES City Representative, Dame assisted in the 2016 English Camp and Pre-Departure Orientation for YES program finalists. He also helped American Councils staff by promoting the YES program and organizing other alumni to assist during recruitment. Dame was very surprised and thrilled to receive the award. “It is very motivating for me and others to have this kind of recognition,” Dame explained. “It makes me want to do many more activities.”