On July 1st, 2017, Drew McCoy ’18 and Hans Nothstein ‘17 boarded their flight for Dakar, Senegal. When they got there, their bus was led by men on horseback and children on bicycles. They were greeted by a crowd of smiling faces, drumming, and dancing.

During the welcoming ceremony, the elders of the village explained that their parents and grandparents had only dreamed of what they were witnessing. The young children would not be forced to walk miles in the heat to a school on the other side of a busy highway. Snakes entering outdoor classrooms would no longer be a concern. More young students would complete their primary education, and more would go on to university in Dakar and beyond. More will return with their professional skills and knowledge, and, over time, the new school will have transformed the village and the many lives within.

The next week was spent working alongside the village. They dug the foundation for the school, tied rebar, made bricks, and mixed concrete. Even the small children joined in, carrying water from the well to the work site. Afternoons were spent weathering the heat under baobab trees and trying to communicate with their host families. After the afternoon shift on the work site, the village gathered for different events. One evening, the village held a Senegalese wrestling tournament. Another evening the Americans played the Senegalese in a game of soccer. The Americans lost by a score of 7-12. By the end of the week, the walls of the school were being built brick by brick by good friends.