In the summer of 2018, Meredith McCain had the opportunity to intern in Dakar, Senegal for 10 weeks with Research Triangle Institute International and the US Agency for International Development's (USAID) Project GOLD (Governance for Local Development). This US-funded project aims to improve local governance in 4 regions of Senegal by increasing citizen engagement and the capacity of governments to provide basic services such as healthcare, sanitation, and education. As an intern in the communications and gender inclusion sector of the project, McCain specifically worked to collect success stories from the project's activities in the regions, compile user guides for the project's governance tools, and ensure women were included in communications materials and project photos. All of her work was in French, so she credits the French Studies department here at Rice with providing her the language foundation necessary to thrive in the Senegalese work environment. While in Dakar, McCain also lived with a host family which allowed her to experience Senegalese culture firsthand and even learn some of the local language, Wolof. Classes she has taken at Rice, such as FREN 453: Immigration and Citizenship in Modern France sparked McCain's initial interest in Francophone Africa, and her time in Senegal is only the beginning of what she hopes will be a lifelong career involving the Francophone world.
McCain had this opportunity thanks to the Rice University Loewenstern Fellowship, a program that provides funding and support for summer research and service internships in developing countries.
In picture from left to right: Meredith McCain, Fabinta Diaw, and Aminata Ndiaye