身临其境的学习

International student Eunice Umubyeyi ’21 discovered an interest in Senegal at Muhlenberg and then traveled there as part of a short-term study-abroad course.

By: 梅根·基塔  Thursday, March 21, 2019 02:38 PM

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Eunice Umubyeyi ’21 in Senegal as part of the Muhlenberg Integrated Learning Abroad (MILA) course called Culture, 媒体 and 社会 Movements in Senegal

1月, the Muhlenberg Integrated Learning Abroad (MILA) course called Culture, 媒体 and 社会 Movements in Senegal went on its culminating 11-day journey to the west African country. For Eunice Umubyeyi ’21, a 计算机科学 major with a minor in 法国 and francophone studies, the short-term study-abroad experience was a dream she didn’t realize she had until her second semester at Muhlenberg.

Umubyeyi, a SHE-CAN scholar from Rwanda, took Introduction to Francophone Studies with Associate Professor of 法国 Eileen McEwan last spring. Each student had to choose a 法国-speaking country and follow the current events there throughout the semester. Umubyeyi chose Senegal because her high-school counselor had studied there and spoken highly of it. Near the end of the semester, the class got a brief overview of the history of 法国-speaking African countries, 包括塞内加尔.

“We learned about this group called Y'en a Marre: It’s a group of young people who want to make Senegal better,”Umubyeyi说. (“Y'en a marre” is a 法国 expression that means “fed up,” and McEwan describes the group as a “hip-hop-based social movement.”) “There’s so much corruption going on in the government, and Y'en a Marre came together and wanted to make things better for the country.”

Around the same time, McEwan and her husband, Associate Professor of 媒体 & 沟通 保罗麦克尤恩, were holding an information session for their Senegal MILA course, which Eileen encouraged Umubyeyi to attend. When Umubyeyi learned that the class’s final project would involve collaborating with members of Y'en a Marre in person, she decided she had to be part of it. To help make that happen, she worked as a summer tour guide at Muhlenberg and started a GoFundMe campaign. The Office of 全球教育 also offered her support from the Peyton Helm Study Abroad Fund and the David Amdur Fund.

During the fall semester, Umubyeyi and her eight classmates took a deep dive into the history, culture and politics of Senegal, so that by the time the group arrived in Dakar on January 2, they were primed with a semester’s worth of background knowledge. Umubyeyi, though, had something else: the ability to communicate fluently. She grew up speaking 法国, which meant she was able to direct taxi drivers, haggle with street vendors and bond with her host family.

“We had dinner together at the table and would spend hours and hours talking,”她说, noting that many of her classmates were only able to exchange a few words with their hosts. “I feel like I made so many more connections and deeper connections with the people in Senegal, 我学到了更多.”

Umubyeyi was also better able to connect with the people who drew her to the country in the first place: the members of Y’en a Marre. The class spent time shooting a music video for two of the group’s members and had a conversation with one of its founders, 一个叫Thiat的人. “He wanted us to be a part of the group and help us understand why he’s doing what he’s doing,”Umubyeyi说. “It was just so great, the passion that he has for what he’s doing.”

And, the trip afforded her an opportunity to see her home country in a new light. “When I’m here in the U.S., people say, ‘Tell me about Rwanda, tell me about the genocide.’ That’s the only thing,”她说. “In Senegal, people were like, ‘Rwanda, it’s so clean and so peaceful. Tell me about the president.’ They take it as a role model country. It made me so proud, and I appreciated my country even more.”

Thiat was especially interested—to the point where he was taking notes. “To have someone in front of him from Rwanda who could talk about the experience there, 这是黄金,”保罗说. “He teaches us a lot, and this was a chance for him to get something in return.”

That discussion was one of many highlights from what Umubyeyi describes as “the very best trip I’ve ever had.” She said learning about the country for a semester 之前 traveling there made the experience so much more rich and rewarding: “You are aware of things that are happening there, and all that’s missing is for you to experience it.”