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Canyon High student to venture to Africa this summer through international service program

Claire Campbell to live in huts with Senegal family as part of experience

Posted: June 3, 2013 6:54 p.m.
Updated: June 3, 2013 6:54 p.m.

Claire Campbell, a junior at Canyon High School, will embark on an international citizenship program this summer, living in huts with a native Senegal family. Signal photo by Dan Watson

A group of American students will be traveling to Senegal, Africa, in the name of international citizenship this summer, and one of those venturing across the globe is Canyon High School junior Claire Campbell.

The international trip is run by a travel organization called Walking Tree Travel, which organizes service trips for high school students in several countries around the world.

In Senegal, the service portion of the trip is orchestrated by the Peace Corps. Campbell doesn’t know what service the group will be doing yet, but the organization often focuses on helping one village with the goal of bringing students back for several years.

In conjunction with Wandering Scholar, Walking Tree Travel offers the opportunity to apply for financial aid in the form of a Journalism Fellowship. Campbell applied for and received this fellowship, becoming Canyon High School’s first Journalism Fellow.

“We found out they had a journalism fellowship for financial aid,” Campbell said in an interview Monday.

“I wrote a couple of essays, one on the importance of global citizenship and global understanding. Then I wrote a second essay on why I wanted to go on the trip and how it would benefit me.”

Campbell, along with two chaperones and a group of 10 other American students, will be living with families in a village called Palmarin. They depart for their trip on July 11.

“They focus on cultural immersion, so I will be staying with a family there — they don’t speak English.”

Campbell heard about the trip to the French-speaking country from her French teacher.

The students have been in contact with their group leaders, who will match them with families once they arrive, depending on personality as well as family dynamic. Campbell said it is more likely for her to be placed with a family that has a daughter her age than with a family with a teenaged son or younger children.

“It’s kind of a group of smaller rural villages. It’s mostly farming,” she said. “We will be in huts.”

The families in the area usually live in a cluster of huts, each used as the room of a house would be; a kitchen hut, a bedroom hut, a guest hut. All the huts have cement floors, and half have electricity but none has running water.

“There’s a lot of poverty. It’s not the poorest country but there is lots of begging — children begging — in Dakar,” Campbell said.

Dakar is the capitol and port city of Senegal and the group’s point of arrival at and departure from the African country.

A few days at the beginning and end of the trip are dedicated to cultural tourism. The group will be visiting Goree Island, a former slave trade departure point, and will go on a safari.

In preparation for her trip, Campbell received several immunizations, including those for typhoid fever, yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, and meningitis.

Campbell will be taking anti-malaria pills as well as using iodine tablets for the drinking water. Bed bags and mosquito spray will fend against the insects in the equatorial country.

Campbell also purchased clothes that will accommodate the more modest culture. A mostly Muslim nation, Senegal’s women must cover their knees and shoulders; however, they are not required to cover their heads in the traditional Muslim Hijab.

Campbell says most of the women wear long skirts.

As a part of the Journalism Fellowship, she wrote a research paper on the country and will be blogging at least once while in Senegal.

She also will write an article about the experience after her trip.




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