By Papa Abdoulaye Diop (YES 2017-2018, Senegal, hosted by AFS-USA in Janesville, WI)
English is the most widely spoken second language in the world, with many scholars referring to it as the “most influential language” due to the many countries in which it is spoken. For this reason, a lot of people in Senegal are extremely interested in learning the English language. As a YES alumnus with the experience living in the United States, I got the chance to develop my English Language fluently. Additionally, I attended the Workshop for Youth Leaders in English Teaching (WYLET) and volunteered teaching language to youth in my host community. Because of these experiences, upon returning home to Senegal I decided to share the knowledge I gained by teaching English to youth in Senegal.
The YES alumni community in Senegal has a strong partnership with social institutions on Goree Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As such, in 2017 the alumni community organized a re-entry seminar with newly returned YES alumni at Mariama Ba high school that included several activities with students from Goree Island Elementary school. At this event, over 30 alumni painted a classroom at the elementary school and helped plant flowers on the school grounds. This event also marked the beginning of a series of English classes for elementary students, inaugurated by former Alumni Coordinator Aita Diakhate (YES 2010-11, Senegal, hosted by AYUSA in Lowell, MA). As the current Alumni Coordinator in Senegal, I continued the partnership with the Goree Island and Elementary School by volunteering to provide English classes to a growing number of students at the Goree Island Socio-Cultural Center Library.
I believe being a WYLET alumnus makes me a more effective English teacher and has helped me lead this project since taking it on in 2019. Staff members at the library help me during classes while also learning some English themselves. It always makes me so happy to teach English to extremely grateful youths, and I believe in the near future we will have more participants in these classes than ever, including adults. I hope to keep this tradition alive as long as there are YES alumni in Senegal.