Traveling to Ghana was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The study abroad experience has made me overall a better person. I have become not only more appreciative of what I have here in the U.S., but more culturally aware and educated. I’m not going to sell Africa or Ghana in this article, but I would definitely encourage anyone, particularly individuals of African descent to visit this remarkable continent. Africa has so much to offer, in so many ways. It’s culture, history, wildlife, scenery, friendly and festive atmosphere are all elements individuals must experience in their lifetime.
I grew up in a cultured home, and my parents always explained the importance of knowing who I am. They instilled in me that I can never truly prosper in life without having the knowledge of my history. This, they explained, is the first step toward developing an identity. As an African-American male, it was my dream to travel to Africa. My love for African American history, art and culture coupled with my passion for traveling fueled my desire to travel to the birthplace of civilization to study abroad in Ghana.
I made preliminary preparations through the Office of Global Programs and was encouraged to apply for study abroad scholarships. I applied for the Gilman scholarship and the ASU Student Affairs scholarship, both of which I received. The Gilman Scholarship paid for the entire trip. I received all necessary vaccinations, began packing and was set and ready for Ghana!
On May 29th, we arrived at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
From Atlanta we headed to Chicago O’ Hare airport then to Rome, Italy. We spent about two hours in Rome. It was my first time in Italy. From there, we took a flight to Accra, Ghana with a stop-over in Lagos, Nigeria. Finally, we arrived at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra on May 30.
My study abroad adventure had begun! There were several cultural excursions. My first tour was to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, and took place the day after our arrival in Accra on Saturday June 1. The memorial and museum is dedicated to the prominent Ghanaian leader and first president. Led by Nkrumah in 1957, Ghana became the first African nation to successfully gain independence from British colonization.
Under Nkrumah‘s leadership, cocoa (Ghana’s primary export) production doubled; forestry, fishing, and cattle-breeding expanded; and deposits of bauxite and gold were exported more effectively. In 1961, the Volta Dam was constructed on the Volta River providing water for irrigation and hydro-electric power which produced enough electricity for the towns, as well as for a new aluminum plant. Nkrumah set the standards for all other African nations fighting toward independence. He believed in “Africa for Africans” and was truly a remarkable leader. His legacy will forever stand and is honored throughout the entire continent. It was truly a privilege to visit his museum and gravesite.
Dr. Kweme Nkuruma historic “Forward-ever” statue at the Nkuruma Museum Accra, Ghana
The grave site of Dr. Kweme Nkuruma(1909-1972) at the Nkuruma Museum, Accra, Ghana
ASU-Ghana Study Abroad Group 2014. From Left: Sidney Wilson, senior middle grades education major, Wonteshia Merrit, senior business major, Dr. Nneka Nora Osakwe professor and program coordinator, Oriel Myles-College, senior business and logistics major, LaTeshia Blakeley, senior criminal justice major from Virginia Union University, and Ebenezer Dormey, University of Cape Coast.
After leaving the Nkrumah Museum we headed to the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture. I was very excited to visit the home and burial site of legendary author, historian, Pan–Africanist, scholar, and founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois. The Ghana Museum Association has made his home into a museum to celebrate his life and accomplishments. Ghana invited DuBois to Africa to participate in their independence celebration in 1957, but he was unable to attend because the U.S. government confiscated his passport in 1951.
During my visit to the Centre, I learned that DuBois visited Ghana in 1960 and spoke with President Nkrumah about the creation of a new encyclopedia about the African diaspora, called the Encyclopedia Africana. Funds to support the encyclopedia project were appropriated, and DuBois was invited to work on the project in Ghana. In 1961, at the age of 93, DuBois and his wife moved to Ghana to begin work on the encyclopedia. The United States refused to renew his passport in 1963, so he became a citizen of Ghana, but his health declined during the two years in Ghana, and he died on August 27, of the same year in Accra at age 95.
Wilson observes the sketches of Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglas and other collaborators W.E.B. DuBois.
We headed to Cape Coast, an historic town which is home to the University of Cape Coast, our host university and the Cape Coast Slave Castle. We stayed in this location for four weeks to complete the internship and academic programs while touring historical and cultural sites in surrounding cities and rural villages.
Each student lived with a Ghanaian host family on campus. I loved my homestay family! My host family mother is a professor at the University of Cape Coast, and my host family brother is a lecturer. They opened their home to me and were very hospitable. I got a taste of true Ghanaian culture. Every morning when I woke up, my host mother had breakfast prepared for me and when I got home from my classes or internship, she asked me whether I was ready to eat. We spent many nights talking and others rooting for the Black Stars, Ghana’s national soccer team (Go Black Stars!) during the world cup. I felt as if I was a part of the family. I had my own room and house key. The Ghanaian food was amazing! No preservatives or chemicals. Everything is grown fresh. This was quite refreshing, especially coming from the U.S where so much food is processed.
We had class sessions with Dr. Osakwe every Tuesday and Thursday. We had our internship every Monday and Wednesday at a local primary school in Cape Coast, Ghana. This by far was very rewarding and worthwhile. As an aspiring educator, this was the part of the trip I was most excited about. The first visit, I had the opportunity to observe the teacher and the classroom structure. The school does not have a cafeteria, gym, clinic or library, all of which are amenities that every school in America has. The students buy their own lunch from a local street vendor. Additionally, in the school where we interned, all of the girls cut their hair to attend school, wear uniforms, and the students begin school with worship and song. There are very few discipline problems and when there are problems, teachers handle them.
Sidney Wilson with his Middle Grades Class in Ghana
The first lesson I taught after observation was greetings. I immediately fell in love with my students. I don’t know if it was my accent and speech or just my personality, but they thought that I was the funniest guy on earth. The class sessions were vibrant and full of laughs.
I was so impressed with the students’ inquiring minds and thirst for knowledge. It was truly amazing to see a class full of students who are still motivated and love to learn, despite the limited resources in their learning environment. I was in love with my daily internship experience and hated when the school day ended. Teaching in Ghana really taught me how to become a culturally responsive educator. Because of the lack of resources, I learned how to become creative and think outside the box when creating lesson plans and interactive activities. I truly believe that if you can efficiently teach in similar environments such as Ghana, then one can teach anywhere.
Wilson with his middle grades class in Ghana
Ghana has overall made me a better person. I have learned so much in just four weeks and thank God for blessing me with such an opportunity which will be cherished for a lifetime. I will host a variety of forums to encourage other students to study in Ghana and will facilitate presentations describing my experiences. I plan to work in collaboration with the Office of Global Programs at ASU to double the number of students studying abroad in Africa.
Sidney Wilson, Jr., a middle grades education major is an ASU Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship Award Winner, summer 2014. Funding for his study abroad program was from the Gilman’s Study Abroad Scholarship, the ASU Student Activity Scholarship, and donations from individuals and institutions committed to human development. Wilson wishes to thank all individuals and institutions that made the experience possible. The article is part of a technical writing report for Dr. Nneka Nora Osakwe –ENGL 3106-1 SA.