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Senegal: Grad brings women’s ed to Senegal

“Marquel Sheree Ramirez lives in a village of 300 people. She washes her clothes by hand and hangs them on a line to dry, bathes outside every night in a bucket bath and traveling to the closest paved road takes 45 minutes by horse cart. She is living a life drastically different from her American one, but it hasn’t phased her.

‘The culture shock wasn’t so bad,’ Ramirez said. ‘We were given a lot of training culture-wise by the Peace Corps to better understand Senegalese. When I go back (to the U.S.), it will be a culture shock. (I) don’t even know what I am going to do … it will be really weird.’

 Ramirez, who graduated from Cal Poly in 2007 with a bachelors degree in modern languages and literature, is an environmental education volunteer for the Peace Corps in Senegal and the national coordinator for its program, Senegal Gender and Development (SeneGAD).

 Founded in 1963, there are currently 230 volunteers working in agriculture, agro-forestry, health, environmental education, small enterprise development and ecotourism in these communities for SeneGAD, Ramirez said.

 Ramirez, who has been in the country since March 2011, said she is working to educate and empower the Senegalese population about gender equality.

 SeneGAD holds girls’ leadership training camps and health seminars, as well as early pregnancy and early marriage awareness days. They also hand out the Michele Sylvester Scholarship — named in memory of a Peace Corps volunteer who dedicated her life to educating Senegalese girls — to three middle-school-age Senegalese girls who show academic excellence, but are poor or from families that favor early marriages. The winners receive money to register for classes and school supplies.”

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