MOULTONBOROUGH — Eight students from Moultonborough Academy will travel to Senegal, West Africa, in January — a dream that African literature teacher Amy Flanders has had for her students since visiting Senegal almost a decade ago.

“Travel can enrich our lives in ways that few things can, and if this trip can instill some wanderlust in our students, then, wow, that’s a dream come true,” she said, adding that travel to some of the lesser-known and visited corners of the world is particularly fascinating and important.

Senior Aubrey Smart agrees: “Although we can learn about Senegal here at MA, there’s something very different about being submersed in another culture that you can't get from a book. I think that it’s an incredible opportunity that not many people get.”

The school district approved the trip, that will be led by two Moultonborough Academy educators, this past summer.

IT Director Etienne Vallee jumped at the chance to chaperone the trip, saying, “This is something that I would never do on my own, so when I saw an opportunity, I took it.”

Vallee is fluent in French, one of two major languages spoken in Senegal — a country that Lonely Planet hails as “one of West Africa’s most stable countries [yet] far from dull.”

While in Senegal, students will visit Goree Island, a former slave trading post on the coast; see local museums in the capital city Dakar; visit well-known natural sites such as Pink Lake and Bandia Park; and spend a day outside the city, interacting with villagers and experiencing rural life.

Flanders said, “One of the biggest things that we’re arranging right now — and the plan that seems to excite the kids the most — is visiting a high school in Dakar, where our students will each shadow one of their students for the day. There is so much opportunity for both learning and connection there that I truly hope we can make it work.”

The group has several fundraisers in the works, from collecting cans for recycling to holding a pancake breakfast at Moultonborough Academy on Saturday, Dec. 7, to selling ugly sweaters at the Moultonborough Holiday Fair. They have even had some luck with a GoFundMe page that has found community support, at

Senior Maddie Burns speaks for many in the group when she says, “It still doesn't feel real that I am actually going!”

Come Jan. 26, their dream will, indeed, become a reality for the lucky travelers.

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