International Study Program: Location
This year our International Study Program (ISP) returns to Ghana. Over the next 3 weeks 16 members and two staff will visit major cities and small villages, including Accra, Kumasi, Wusuta, Elmina and others. Throughout this time they will meet with students, educators, professionals and politicians to gain a broad perspective on the history, culture and politics of Ghana.
This summer’s journey to Ghana is our fourth in the last decade. Throughout this time we have developed strong partnerships with the Ghanaian community based organizations that we visit each trip. This year, for the first time, several youth from “Adagana” (one of our partner organizations) will travel with ISP to another region of Ghana. This is one small way we are able to support the organizations who have welcomed us with open arms throughout the years.
ISP is life-changing experience. Check out the photos and review the members’ reflections. You will surely see why it is said that “travel is the best education”.
We arrived in Accra at 5am and I didn’t feel like I was actually in Ghana. When we left the airport, I noticed the traffic, vendors in the street, the heat, the people, and it all felt like a big city – Accra reminded me of 125th Street. After passing through customs, we headed to the University of Ghana campus. When we arrived, we had breakfast, unloaded the car and went to our rooms. After a little nap, we explored the campus. We had a guided tour at the Museum of Archaeology. The tour guide was very descriptive in explaining the different exhibits.
Afterwards, we returned to our bungalow where we had a few hours to prepare for dinner at Susan’s house. Susan invited a woman and her daughter (who were in Ghana because her husband is a visiting professor at University of Ghana), four youth that were going to college in America this fall, Professor Kodzo, and others Susan met here in Ghana. We all sat in a circle and ate as a group. The food was really, really good. After dinner, we mingled with each other and learned some of the popular dances in Ghana. Some of the Bro/Sis members tried to teach the other people the dances we do in New York but that didn’t work out too well.
We had so much fun! I hope we can see those youth again. Later that night, we headed back to our bungalow where we played card games and talked until we got sleepy. Even though we were tired, I think we had a great first day in Ghana and I look forward to more days like this (minus being tired). I can’t wait to explore the rest of Ghana!
This is the second day in Ghana and it feels like we’ve been here for a week. Today we visited the home of W.E.B. DuBois. The tour was very informative and in the museum, which used to be his home, there were pictures of him and his wife, over 1000 books from his personal library and many degrees. We visited his grave and ashes of his wife in the sitting room next to the house. Inside, there were many wooden stools with Adinkra symbols carved on them. We also visited the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park where learned about all the good he did for Ghana and its independence. For lunch we went to a restaurant to eat, and jollof rice is really starting to be my favorite food.
After we had lunch we went to a market in Osu where we got to actually be in the mix of street life in Ghana. Everything was moving so fast paced. The people running the shops were persuasive. I’m glad I got the opportunity to come to Ghana because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get a chance to see all that I have seen so far. I can’t wait to see what else is in store.
oday we had a dance class instructed by the Ghana Dance Ensemble. We learned new rhythms and ways to dance like Ghanaians. Even though I am not a person who’s really comfortable with dancing, I enjoyed the lesson because I learned how to dance. A small group of us walked around campus and met a student from California.
He was so surprised and happy that high schoolers were traveling and learning things in Ghana. After that, we attended a lecture conducted by Dr. Wazi Apoh at the Department of Archaeology. It was a pretty interesting lecture; he touched on heritage, Ghana’s textile industry, the Iron Age and more. Later on, we had dinner and watched a performance by GDE including our instructors from earlier in the day. The lead teacher, Ben Aybttei, welcomed us and invited us to dance on the stage with the Ensemble.
It’s difficult to explain but this experience has been breathtaking. Not many young people get to travel to Ghana or even outside of their home country. It makes me feel privileged to be here and motivates me to always strive for success.
My overall experience of Ghana so far has been phenomenal. I have been given the opportunity to not only travel overseas but to experience being on a plane for the first time. I feel as though Ghana is a place where the friendliest people reside. Ghana is a place that welcomed me with open arms. Besides being overwhelmed by the venders at the markets, I have enjoyed my stay in the different cities and villages in Ghana. Today we got to visit the border between Togo and Ghana. The border was pretty interesting. It was full of people trying to get you to buy their products or food, or just being amazed to see Americans in Ghana.
I’m trying my hardest to get used to feeling like I stand out like a sore thumb. I guess they’re as curious about my home as I am about theirs. I am totally grateful for having the opportunity to connect with the ADAGANA group, especially my friend Peace. I promised never to forget her or the other members of ADAGANA. I am just grateful to be able to actually visit places my ancestors may have been.
“Until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be a hero.” Our trip so far has been exactly what I believed it would be – unpredictable. From our 5:00 AM arrival in Accra to our tour of Fort Prinzestein slave castle. This was my first time visiting any slave fort. When I hear what people say about slave forts, I hear people mention their anger and their sadness. I personally felt nothing. I felt no anger, sadness or need for vengeance.
All I felt was disgust for the conditions and nausea from the stench that filled the fort. I already understand how cruel humanity is. Being at Fort Prinzestein was just further confirmation that no matter where we are (USA or Ghana) there are evil and negative things happening in this world. It’s something that I believe is human nature. I think we need to stop viewing things that happen in other countries as none of our business. As long as we live in the same world, we need to work together.
The first night in Kumasi was an interesting experience. Just think about it, six girls sleeping for three nights in a room meant for two. Even though the room has three sets of bunk beds, there is still no personal space. Actually, forget about personal space, there is not much space at all.
Worst of all, there is no ceiling – just a huge roof that covers three rooms where I can hear everything in the room next to mine. Just saying, Ronnie’s snoring is not pleasant. However, that was last night and we all survived. Today we took a two hour ride to a town named Ntosno where we met up with an organization named Thread. Thread has the same mission as Bro/Sis, to change the world for the better. At Thread, we created Adinkra cloth for the brownstone where we chose five Adinkra symbols that describes the group as a whole. Also, everyone created their own Adinkra cloth with the symbols of their choice. Afterwards, everyone picked a member from Thread to be their partner for tree planting. My partner was named Claremina.
She is 15 years old in junior high with two younger brothers who are 11 and 9 years old. She dreams of being a well known chemist and she loves to dance. Later on in the day, Claremina danced with the rest of the members of Thread. She is really good! The performance was really nice and lively – even the people from the community came to watch. It was sad to leave, but we made friends that we will never forget.