“They Are Coming to Get Something”: A Qualitative Study of African American Male Community College Students’ Education Abroad Experience in Senegal, West Africa


  • Lawson Bush Cal State LA
  • Phyllis Jeffers-Coly Diasporic Soul
  • Edward Bush Cosumnes River College
  • Libby Lewis Cal State LA




African American Male Theory, study abroad, community colleges, Black men studies, racial identity development, critical qualitative research


This paper is a critical qualitative study of African American male community college students’ education abroad experience in Senegal, West Africa. Currently, there is a lack of research that focuses directly on Black men who are studying abroad. Using African American male theory as the framework, four major themes emerged: men to boys, challenging the notion of  counternarratives, identity, and not-so-distant cousins. These themes point collectively to a transformative experience for the participants. Notably, the educational experience transformed the participants’ cultural, social, and racial identities, as the trip fostered a combination of vulnerability and safety that created the conditions for Black men to grow and transform.


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Author Biographies

Lawson Bush, Cal State LA

Lawson Bush is the Chair of Pan African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles. Rooted in Pan Africanism, he employs a pentecostal-revolutionary-pedagogy – teaching from and to the spirit to foster a liberatory praxis. His approach is also reflected in his research as he aims to contemporaneously disrupt power relations and to build programs, institutions, and states on the best of African philosophies and practices.  

Phyllis Jeffers-Coly, Diasporic Soul

Phyllis Jeffers-Coly is the co-owner of Diasporic Soul, which she established with her husband, Eddy Coly, in 2016. It offers healing-centered heritage travel and leadership development experiences for Black people that integrate culture (SOUL) and contemplative practices. She is also the author of a new book titled, We Got Soul; We Can Heal: Overcoming Racial Trauma Through Leadership, Community and Resilience (2022) and a recent article in The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.

Edward Bush, Cosumnes River College

Edward Bush is the President of Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, CA.He is an innovative leader that has been able to reimagine traditional institutional practices. His innovative approach including the implementation of guided pathways has led to improvement of student outcomes while reducing gaps in achievement for students of color and other historically marginalized student populations.  

Libby Lewis, Cal State LA

Libby Lewis is an assistant professor of Sociology and Pan African Studies at Cal State LA.  Her book, The Myth of Post-Racialism in Television News (2017) is informed by her experience as a television news anchor/reporter for CBS and NBC network affiliates. Her research on the news media includes immersive technology designed to improve student learning outcomes. Her experience as a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar studying Zulu in South Africa, underscores the value of study abroad.


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How to Cite

Bush, L., Jeffers-Coly, P., Bush, E., & Lewis, L. (2022). “They Are Coming to Get Something”: A Qualitative Study of African American Male Community College Students’ Education Abroad Experience in Senegal, West Africa. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(2), 257–279. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v34i2.610



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