For the always-smiling Jean-Jacques Sene
, the world is a classroom.The La Roche College
professor of African history has lived and studied in Japan, France and now Pittsburgh. Jean-Jacques Sene, a professor from Senegal, uses a map of 15th-century Africa to teach a world history class at La Roche College. (Martha Rial, Post-Gazette) Sene
, 37, is from Dakar, Senegal.He
was raised in the West African city by his
secretary mom and schoolteacher dad.The family had nine children. Sene was a graduate student in Dakar when he won a scholarship to Japan for six months.
From there he
went to Rennes, France, while completing his
dissertation, and made a living by working on radio and running a drama program.
finished there, Senegal was in economic turmoil, and Sene thought he
could make a greater contribution to this country and his
family by working to influence policy and perceptions of African life from abroad. He
ended up at Duquesne University
in 1999 to study conflict resolution and quickly gave lectures to dispel myths about Africa.
The president of La Roche
presentation and asked him to teach African history at the college.
, a chatty, vibrant man, makes his
home on the South Side with his
wife, Valerie, and 5-year-old daughter, Melissa.A younger brother, Pierre, 32, lives in Pittsburgh, too.
In Pittsburgh, Sene
wants to "tap into people who are open to exploring dimensions of global problems and reach."
Although the Senes like life in America, they have no plans for petitioning for American citizenship.At times, their African values butt heads with the American way of life. Sene
grew up in a compound in Senegal that housed multiple families.The communal life nurtured togetherness and family openness.He
misses that in the States.
"In African families," he
said, "the home was an open place.Family and friends just dropped in. Living in the West, you have to call or schedule before you come visit."
The business student, Egypt
Hossam El-Saie, now 30, was an infant when his
parents, Ahmed and Nagat, came from Cairo to America.