Friends of Niger acknowledges the passing of our colleague and friend to so many, Sue Rosenfeld, who spent many years in Niger. We are sharing this brief obituary from her brother Josh below and we invite you to share your thoughts using the comment function on this page.
Sue Rosenfeld, 72, a New Jersey native who spent the majority of her life as an educator in Africa, passed away on October 10 in her home town of Niamey, Niger, after a lengthy illness. A native of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and the daughter of two teachers, her international adventures began when she spent a year abroad studying in Perugia, Italy while attending Dickinson College, where she graduated in 1970 and majored in Classical Studies.
She left for Africa in 1977/8 to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Joal, Senegal, and would live in Africa for the rest of her life. After years in Senegal Sue was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and moved to Bujumbura, Burundi, where she would remain until she moved to Niamey. She taught English at the American Cultural Center and served as the coordinator for Boston University’s foreign study program in Niamey until the program was terminated in 2010. She remained there as a teacher and educator until her death.
One of her students in Niamey was Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “Our program director, Sue Rosenfeld, once told us that students who apply to the Niger program are ‘self-selected’”, Ocasio-Cortez said in a March, 2010 article in Boston University’s Daily Free Press. “In other words, young students who make the commitment to spending four months in the Sahel of West Africa tend to have a thirst for adventure that is not easily quieted by concern.”
In addition to her roles with the Peace Corps and Boston University, she spent much of her life teaching English as a second language (TESOL).
A serial correspondent, she communicated on a regular basis with hundreds of friends, colleagues, students and family around rather globe, many of whom commented on her ability to bring diverse and unlikely groups of people together. She is best-remembered for her willingness to mentor and aid others, including assisting several African students to attend college in the United States.
She is survived by her brother, Josh, who remains in Elizabeth, and her long-time companion Ahmadou Mbaye of Dakar, Senegal. She is the cousin of author Judy Blume and also survived by her dogs, and Bebe, a chimpanzee she cared for in Niamey.
Her body will remain in Niamey, while her soul remains in all who knew her.
The outpouring of memories about Sue and the impact she has had will be recorded below. It is worthy to note that Sue was a member of the Friends of Niger Board beginning in 2006 as the Niger Liaison. In that capacity for many years Sue helped guide the activities and investments which FON made in Niger. One of the traditions that Sue began was to provide the National Hospital Pediatric ward with chewable vitamins that had been hand-carried over to Niger by FON members and other travelers.