student pictures on campus

Open your eyes to Dakar

Wells College offers its students and visiting students from other American colleges and universities a unique opportunity to study in Dakar, Senegal, one of the most vibrant cities in western Africa; where modern amenities mix well with the cultural tradition of the Wolof, Peul and Sérère peoples.

"Dakar is an incredible city. If you are looking for a great place to use some French and learn wolof--there is no better city. There is always stuff going on and the Senegalese "Teranga" or hospitality is unbeatable."
(M.D., Brown University)

The special attraction of the Wells College program is its focus on interaction with the local population, not as folklore but in everyday life circumstances. It is designed not only for students who want to major in African studies, but for all students wishing to develop their interest in political science, literature, history or the arts while experiencing a very different culture. It is also a program which allows students of African American studies to discover the roots of our African heritage.

Finally, as a developing nation, Senegal offers a wonderful opportunity to examine the influence of European and American culture on traditional societies. It also gives the students a chance to look at their own culture from a very different point of view.

Host Institution

Université Cheikh Anta Diop
Tracing its origins to 1918, the Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) is one of the oldest and most respected universities in West Africa. It consists of five divisions or facultés, including science and technology, humanities, law and political science, business and economics, and medicine and pharmacy. In addition, it houses the seven national professional schools charged with the education and training of teachers, technicians, archivists, and journalists.

The University runs a language school, Institut de Français pour Etrangers (IFE), designed to help foreign students reach the necessary level of French before they enroll in regular courses which are taught in French. It is also home to several prestigious institutes, including institutes for the study of tropical medicine, applied mathematics, environmental studies, African political studies, and the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN) which includes an important center for research on women's issues. IFAN also manages three museums, including a renowned collection of more than 13,000 pieces of West African art.

African Consultant International

African Consultant International (ACI) is a consulting organization created in 1984 which specializes in French and Wolof language instruction, cross-cultural orientation programs, and audio-visual training.

ACI operates from the Baobab Resource Center located within walking distance of the university. ACI provides various instructional support services to the Wells College program, including the teaching of Wolof, and furnishes classroom space for various Wells seminars and tutorial classes. The Baobab Center also houses a very useful library for work on local studies, and provides e-mail services to Wells College.


The West African Research Center (WARC) was created in 1992 to promote exchanges between African researchers, West African research institutions and the USA. Its various programs and multiple services facilitate researchers' work and the collaboration among its partners which include Boston University, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, The Research Institute for the Development, The University of Nouakchott, and various NGOs and International Organizations.

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Language Requirements

The program requires a sound knowledge of French before departure (at least third year college level is recommended), and offers serious language training with special emphasis on everyday conversation. Students reach a very good to excellent mastery of French before their return. The level of courses is suitable for a French language major.

Students with near fluency in French can enroll in upper-level courses offered by the University. Those more limited in their handling of French can enroll in courses offered by the English department (which pertain to African history, literature, politics and society) and the Institut de Français pour Étrangers (IFE). Courses in music and the arts are offered only in French.

All students, and particularly those interested in learning a non-Indo-European language, are encouraged to study Wolof in courses taught specifically for foreign students. Students can choose either a 50 hour or a 75 hour course of study at the Baobab center.

Living with Senegalese families and attending University courses provides our students with endless opportunities to speak French (and Wolof) in a very natural environment. They can also practice the language with French speakers during a variety of activities such as site visits, social gatherings and out-of-town trips.

All French language courses taught at the IFE are specifically designed for foreign students. The first institute of its kind in western Africa, it has a long and successful track record. Students usually spend three hours in the morning each day at the Institute.

Courses in History, Foreign Languages, African or Afro-American Literature, Political Sciences, Sociology, etc., are taught in the various departments of the University. Courses in art, music and dance are taught at approved academies such as the Académie des Beaux Arts and the Conservatoire National de Musique run by the Ministry of Education, but independent of the University.

Typically, students enroll in one French language course at IFE, two or three university courses, and one Wolof course. If a student chooses to take an independent course on a project dealing with an aspect of Senegalese society or culture, he or she is encouraged to take additional Wolof beyond the 50 hour minimum.

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Travel and Tour Information

Guided trips to the beautiful and moving Gorée Island and the very stylish St. Louis are included in the cost of the program. A visit to the National Bird Park of Djoudj introduces students to the rich wildlife one can find in Sénégal in several vast parks such as Nikolo Koba.
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Professor André Siamundele - Director of Study Program in Dakar, Senegal
Wells College 170 Main Street, Aurora NY 13026
Office: 315-364-3308 | Secretary: 315-364-3288 | Fax: 315-364-3257