By Seynabou Camara, YES 2011-2012, Senegal, hosted by CCI in Augusta, GA
In October 2015, YES alumni in
Senegal established a mentoring program through which newly returned alumni
received guidance from their older peers. Because of the differences between
the school systems in America and Senegal, YES alumni in Senegal often have
trouble getting back into the Senegalese track. One week before school started
in 2015, four YES '14 and nine YES '15 alumni from five different regions
gathered in Thies for a panel discussion on how to manage school successfully
during their last two years of high school. Before the discussion began, participants
worked on setting personal and academic goals. Seven older alumni, all college
students at the time, then shared the experiences they had when they returned
to school in Senegal, highlighting some of the challenges they faced after a
year in the U.S. This was followed by a discussion on getting ready for
college, during which the older alumni shared opportunities to study at a good
university in Senegal or abroad. The event concluded with the launch of the
Senegal Alumni Mentoring Program. The program is now continuing in the
2016-2017 academic year with 12 alumni who are either in college or employed mentoring
the 17 YES ’15 and YES ’16 alumni.
Within the Mentoring Program, mentors hold
regular monthly check-ins with their mentees, and are always ready to help the
mentees whenever they have problems. More difficult challenges are sometimes
shared with the entire Mentoring Program team, who then brainstorm ideas
together until a solution is found.
Each mentor has contributed between $2 and $6 to a fund to
support the program. This fund not only covers the cost of phone cards, which
are used to make the monthly check-in calls, but also covers the costs of
additional courses some students need in order to catch up with the Senegalese
curriculum, but which some students could not otherwise afford.
Although the program is primarily focused on school, mentors
also support mentees in developing alumni projects. The mentorship program is
one of the alumni’s greatest initiatives and is planned to continue as a long-term
project. This program is managed by Mouhamed Ndao ’13.