Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression
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Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Excursions are a central component of the program and provide students with experiential learning opportunities for a broader and deeper understanding of course content. Excursions include visits to museums, artistic performances or studios, shrines, and other locations of interest; students also have multiple opportunities to engage directly with local experts in the production of Ghanaian art forms.
Nicknamed the Garden City, Kumasi is both the heart of the Ashanti nation and an outstanding example of a precolonial urban center. Despite the city's urban feel, Kumasi has retained its rich history and cultural heritage. During this two week excursion, students are based at Kumasi Anglican Secondary School (KASS) where they learn the Twi language directly from community experts. Additionally, students take classes on research methodology and conduct site visits to Bonwire and Atonso, the capital of Ashanti kente weaving and the adinkra symbols, respectively. Students also have the opportunity to experience Kejetia, one of West Africa's largest markets. During their time in Kumasi, students live with a homestay family.
Students spend one week in Tamale, Ghana's third largest city and capital of the country's Northern Region. This excursion immerses students in the homes of Dagomba people and their unique style of music. It also provides an opportunity to compare and contrast the Northern Region's distinct political, economic, and social characteristics with what they have experienced along the coast. The central mosque in the heart of the city is a reminder of the importance of Islam in this part of Ghana, a country in which a large portion of the population identifies as Christian.
The city of Cape Coast served as the original capital of the Gold Coast until 1877 when it was moved to Accra. During this excursion, students examine a transformative and highly turbulent period in Ghanaian history. Both in Cape Coast and in the nearby town of Elmina, students visit two extremely important edifices that originally functioned as trade forts before being turned into dungeons during the transatlantic slave trade. Frequently during this excursion, students begin to draw important connections between watershed moments in Ghana's history and the country's contemporary socioeconomic and cultural conditions. Rabbi Kohain Halevi, the executive secretary of PANAFEST, a bi-annual festival designed to unite Africa and African diaspora communities, leads the lecture and discussions after these important site visits.
While in Cape Coast, students also take a day trip to the University of Education, Winneba, to attend lectures by Kwakuvi Azasu. Time in Winneba exposes students to many of the artistic styles taught at the university's Department of Art Education.
At the conclusion of the Cape Coast excursion, students visit Kakum National Park, where they get a bird’s-eye view of local flora and fauna from the forest canopy walkway. They also attend a performance by Kukyekukyeku, a bamboo stamping-tube orchestra comprised of residents of a small community in Kakum Forest.
This excursion exposes students to the distinct performing arts of the southern Volta Region, home of the Anlo Ewe. The region has been an area long admired for its religious institutions and performing arts. Students are initially based at Vume, an important center in the production of handmade clay pots which students, over their two days there, build with guidance from female artisans. Time spent in locations closer to the Togolese border, such as Dagbamete, Klikor, Aflao, and Kopeyia, provides students with the opportunity to witness powerful religious experiences in Afa and Yewe shrines. Students learn, and may also have the opportunity to drum and perform, well known regional pieces such as agbadza, adzogbo, gahu, and atsiagbekor.
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