Laura Wiggins

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Where I Went: Dakar, Senegal
When I Went: Spring 2012
Program: CIEE-Dakar: Language and Culture

Hi, my name is Laura Wiggins. As an Anthropology/Sociology major, I study past and present world cultures, looking at how people through time have chosen to assign meaning to their world. Though I always knew that I wanted to study abroad, it was difficult for me to choose a program and a place, until I found just the right one. Last semester, I studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal, where I focused on French and Wolof (an indigenous Senegalese language) language acquisition and studied the historical and multicultural influences on contemporary Senegalese society. Outside of the school environment, living with a Senegalese family of twenty members, to taking traditional Senegalese dance lessons, to telling the man next to me in the carrapide ride “Waaw, men naa wax Wolof tutti” (“Yes, I can speak Wolof a little”) truly increased my cross-cultural engagement.

Four days after I left Dakar to return to the States, I was very excited to join my Anthropology/Archaeology professor in Chiapas, Mexico. When Professor Lopiparo offered me a place with her team to excavate household areas at a Maya site called Chinikiha, I immediately said yes. As an Archaeology minor, I have studied the theory, methodology, and some political implications of the field within my classes at Rhodes. However, this international fellowship gave me the incomparable opportunity doing first-hand (literally with my hands) excavations of a past society at the same time as becoming culturally engaged with the present community of Chancala. Working in the tropics everyday for hours on end was not an easy task, but it helped me to understand the various dynamics that play into archaeology as a science and as a way of learning to cross-culturally communicate.

My time abroad, with the risk of sounding cliché, truly served as a means of immense self-reflection and self-encouragement. As this year unfolds, I look forward to developing these experiences into life-long endeavors. Contact the study abroad office or an International Peer Advisor to begin engaging yourself beyond what you ever thought was possible!

Want to set up a meeting with Laura? Contact her here!