Students travel to Hawaii and Senegal during January interim

By Bernadette Russo, Assistant Arts and Culture Editor


Although Easton saw its share of snow this winter, some Lafayette students got plenty of sun in Hawaii and Senegal for their interim study abroad trips.

The three-week trip to Hawaii was for a course titled “The Geological Evolution of the Hawaiian Islands.” Throughout the course, taught by Geology Professor Lawrence Malinconico and Laboratory Coordinator John Wilson, students traveled across the Hawaiian islands to explore volcanoes in the Island of Hawai’i, Maui and Oahu.

Kate Rogers ‘22, who attended the trip, said that exploring volcanoes and learning geology in the field was a mesmerizing experience. 

“I think geology makes me think about being a visitor because we’re talking on very different timescales. And we’re talking about volcanoes that have been here since the 1700s,” she said. “I could have never imagined this. I read a bunch of articles that told me these numbers of how much area this lava field covered, but now I’m standing in it.” 

Rogers said one of her favorite moments of the trip was going snorkeling off of a boat on a barrier reef, where she saw a pod of whales and sea turtles. 

On the other side of the world, another group of students was in Senegal. Africana Studies Professor Wendy Wilson-Fall and Director of Study Abroad Rochelle Keesler led this trip. During the trip, Wilson-Fall taught a class titled “Global Senegal: Alternative Modernities,” where the 20 students on the trip learned about facets of Senegalese culture while also learning how to speak Wolof, the native language of Senegal.

Nat Schmit ‘22, a student on the Senegal trip, said that some of her favorite memories of the trip included visiting Wilson-Fall’s house to hear the work of a local poet and listen to sounds of the kora, a traditional West African instrument.

A major takeaway of the trip for Schmit was the extent to which Senegalese culture values a tight-knit community. These values were exemplified when students enjoyed the national Senegalese dish, Ceebu Jen, a fish and rice meal that is meant to be shared with multiple people out of the same plate.

“It’s easy to forget that we live in a country that’s very individualistic,” Schmit said. “I think it was positive to be somewhere that really valued community.”

Although both programs were able to proceed as planned, two other scheduled interim 2022 trips, “London and Dublin Theater” and “Journey to Rome,” were canceled due to the pandemic. The school-sponsored trips, however, shed light on the future of study abroad in a post-pandemic world.