Eleven Football Players to Travel to Senegal to Study Abroad
BATON ROUGE – Eleven members of the LSU football team will have an experience unlike any other next week when they take part in a study abroad program that will see them travel to Dakar, Senegal for eight days.
It’s the first time LSU football players have participated in the study abroad program and it’s an opportunity for the group to have an educational experience outside the United States.
“One of the things that I have tried to do since coming to LSU is to not only set the standards and the process of building a program that graduates champions, but to help our players establish an identity outside of football,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly said. “To get the opportunity to study abroad is an experience that student-athletes really don’t get the chance to do so for our players to be able to participate in this unique educational program is something that I think will have a lifelong impact on them.
“I want our players to have the opportunity to see things from a different perspective and to really take ownership in their studies and to understand that there’s much more out there than just being a football player. The opportunities of being an LSU football player go far beyond the field so I want to use the study abroad program to help them understand that. This is one of those pieces that we can continue to build on as we work with their identity outside of football and they are excited about it.”
LSU Athletics, International Programs, and the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership (CCELL) collaborated to build this inaugural study abroad opportunity for student-athletes. The main goal of this innovative approach to study abroad is to implement global and in-state service-learning elements in their coursework. This approach integrates academic content, historical and cultural site visits, and collaboration with local nonprofits, to deliver excellence in student learning outcomes while also addressing the needs of host communities.
The robust itinerary for this study abroad experience will purposely explore the course themes of race, sports, and civic engagement in a Senegalese context. Student-athletes will have the opportunity to learn Senegal’s Wolof language, engage in a service-learning opportunity with an international NGO, and meet local Senegalese families, among other highly immersive events. The program holistically introduces LSU student-athletes to Senegal’s rich culture and its strong ties to Louisiana.
“Student athletes participating in this program get a chance to enjoy the academic benefits and rich interpersonal experiences LSU study abroad courses offer,” said Dr. Sarah Becker, director of CCELL and associate professor of sociology and women’s, gender, & sexuality studies. “CCELL is thrilled to work alongside LSU Athletics, International Programs at LSU, our partners in Senegal and in Baton Rouge, student-athletes, and their families, to make this intentionally designed and groundbreaking study abroad course possible.”
LSU’s executive vice president and Provost, Roy Haggerty, who has been a staunch supporter of internationalization, added that “members of the LSU football team will experience a transformative journey, delving deep into the rich cultural heritage, history, and social issues of the region. This immersive experience, which includes service learning, cultural exchanges, and education about West African culture and its connections to Louisiana, will broaden their perspectives and foster personal growth, ultimately shaping them into more compassionate, globally aware citizens. At LSU, we want as many of our students as possible to have learning experiences like this.”
The list of LSU football players traveling to Senegal include: running back Noah Cain, receiver Chris Hilton, offensive tackle Emery Jones, receiver Malik Nabers, linebacker West Weeks, running back Josh Williams, defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo, offensive lineman Bo Bordelon, receiver Javen Nicholas, defensive lineman Fitzgerald West and long snapper Slade Roy.
This cohort of student-athletes, led by LSU’s senior international officer, Samba Dieng, and Dr. Becker as well as LSU Athletics staff will be leaving May 13 and returning May 21.