Major: Communications (BTMM)
Program: Temple in Ghana - West African Civilization & Aesthetics
Where: University of Ghana in Accra, Ghana
When: Summer 2005
Favorite Course: African Aesthetics
Best Excursion: Slave dungeons- they make you realize and appreciate what your ancestors went through.
Favorite Dish: FuFu and Plantain, Jollof Rice
Next Destination: Nigeria
How has this experience changed you?
This was the most unforgettable and rewarding experience of my life. I learned so much about myself and about Ghanaian culture. This experience has changed me because it was extremely humbling at times. If there was a time where the water was off for a few hours in the hostel or the same with the electricity, you just had to use your senses and figure out how to deal with it. Living in the U.S., I realized that we take so many things for granted, but being in Ghana made me empathize with other people’s living situations. It was bothersome that some people had the audacity to complain, as if their ancestors didn’t have to do the same, but, for me, I was just grateful to have the opportunity to be in my Motherland. So in many ways I believed that I matured while I was away. The notion of Africans disliking African-Americans was something that was mentioned to me on numerous occasions before I left for Ghana. I experienced the complete opposite when I arrived in Ghana. I was welcomed by everyone I met, along with the rest of the group which consisted of Blacks and Whites, males and females. Though I never believed into those rumors, at that point I realized that I should never subscribe to the stereotypes that I hear about any other culture.
Visiting the slave dungeons in Cape Coast was a very moving and emotional experience for me. Because that was the place where many of my ancestors were housed and killed, it made me have a stronger appreciation for my ancestors and what they’ve been through. It also made me realize that as a woman of African descent, I have such a profound heritage and legacy of strength that is embedded in me because of my ancestors. And, that as a people, Africans have superseded many plights and trials, but we still stand tall and continue to succeed. Since returning from Africa I have deemed myself as an “International Programs Student Ambassador” because I could never truly put into words how amazing my trip was. This trip has made me appreciate the more important things in life like researching my history and taking the initiative to learn more about my past rather than have someone else teach me as they please. I now hold an even higher reverence and admiration for my forefathers and foremothers and my history as an African woman.
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?
I suggest you leave all of your prejudices, inhibitions, stereotypes, and misconceptions at home when you prepare to study abroad. You will meet many people and learn many things, so don’t hinder yourself or your experience by expecting your trip or the people you meet to act, dress, live, or be a certain way. I can’t even stress to you how many e-mails I received while I was in Ghana asking me about wildlife animals. I was in the City!!! A city, just like any other city you’ve seen with taxis, public transportation, traffic, markets, etc. This shows you that the portrayals of African countries as displayed on TV and in your texts of animals and wildlife are not always accurate. I suggest you go with an open mind and be willing to try new experiences and meet new people. Many people in my group have made life-long friends that they still stay in contact with. It will be a life-changing experience. Just make the best of it!