By Cassie Kelly | November 4, 2013
After reviewing more than 60 applications and completing a rigorous interview process, the Institute for International Journalism selected 20 students for a 2013-14 study abroad program to Ghana. Of the 20, 18 are undergraduates and two are graduate students. The program is administered by Dr. Yusuf Kalyango, director of the institute and Dr. Steve Howard, director of the African Studies program.
Students expressed excitement for their selection during the orientation sessions for the program. For several students, their acceptance was a surprise, some even called it fate. Michelle Robinson, a junior interested in broadcast, explained why she was happy that she applied.
“I have anywhere-but-here syndrome. So, when I heard about this program and it’s journalism focus I applied on a whim,” said Robinson.
Zach Bourgraf, a fifth year studying advertising, shared similar sentiments.
“I wanted to travel and I would have been staying in the U.S. during that time anyway. So, I thought, why stay when you can go to Africa?” Bourgraf said.
While some students have the travel bug, others are looking forward to reconnecting with their roots. Adrienne Green, a junior interested in print and magazine, said that she is overjoyed that her first time leaving the country will be to a place as historical as Ghana in Africa.
“Being African American, I always wanted to go to Africa and I never thought I’d be able to go because it’s extremely expensive and dangerous if you aren’t going with a group of people,” shared Green.
Carol Hector-Harris, a graduate student working toward her PhD, has been interested in her heritage since the 70s and sees this trip as a way to “complete the circle.” She hopes to reconnect with her Ghanaian ancestors from her five generations past great grandfather’s side of the family.
She explained that she used her family’s name to connect with a village in Ghana where she believes they are from. Moreover, recent DNA testing completed by Hector-Harris’ brother also connects the siblings to Ghana. When she arrives in Ghana, Hector-Harris plans to meet with Dr. Osei Bonsu, who has been collecting oral and genetic histories in villages all over Africa.
Hector-Harris described her acceptance into this trip as “serendipity” and like fate. Once she reconnects with her family, Hector-Harris plans on bringing the rest of her family in America to the village for a giant reunion.
“My family is over the moon!” she said.
Students will be earning up to 50 hours of internship credit while on the trip and they can select an internship in one of several organizations. Sarah Kramer, a junior interested in photography, is hoping to work for a local newspaper in Ghana.
“I think it will be interesting to document. It will be different than the kind of stuff you get into in Southeast Ohio,” she said.
In spite of missing Christmas with their families, most students cannot wait to leave in December and are excited to embark on the adventurous endeavor, despite possible cultural differences.
“I’m so looking forward to getting to know the people that it completely overshadows anything I would be worried about,” said Green.
Read the original post on the Institute for International Journalism's blog, here.