Africa’s ‘beacon of democracy’
Eight students from Mount Royal are preparing to embark on what will surely be the trip of a lifetime. After leading three previous field school excursions, Mount Royal professor Yaw Asante is preparing to lead another group on a 40-day trip from May 16 to June 24 to the country where he was born.
“The proposed (2009) travel study in Ghana will offer students a unique opportunity to study for six credits and explore some aspects of the African landscape,” said Asante, noting that six of his nine brothers and sisters as well as his father still live in the country.
“Ghana encompasses significant socio-cultural, political, economic and historical elements that reflect the continental picture.”
The first country south of the Sahara to achieve independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Ghana was described by the BBC last year as the “beacon of democracy in Africa,” for the peaceful manner in which both parliamentary and presidential elections were conducted.
The first field school to Ghana in 2002 seven Mount Royal students participated was a collaborative program with the University of Calgary. In 2004, another school was jointly organized with the U of C and six Mount Royal students took part.
In 2006 Mount Royal signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Ghana, Legon, which paved the way for Mount Royal to organize its own field school to Ghana in 2007, where 10 students took part. This year eight students have signed up and Asante said there is still space for any students interested in this exciting opportunity, providing they sign on by mid-March.
“The travel study program will include travel excursions and extended stays in the Eastern and Ashanti regions of Ghana. English is the official language of Ghana; students will, therefore, be able to communicate with their Ghanaian hosts,” Asante said.
“The study tour will also include travel excursions to Northern Ghana to visit local villages, historic colonial centers, Mole National Game Park, and other sites of national or historic interest; as well, visits to the historic castles in the central region of Ghana, museums, cultural centres and the Kakum National Rainforest Park will be made.”
Jameela Ghann, 19, signed up for the field school because she has many family members in Ghana and was already planning a trip to the country.
“I figured here’s a way that I can earn six credits and I feel the English courses being taught will really help my writing,” she said. The two English courses offered on the trip are Engl 2229 Advanced Topics in Language and Literature: Women in African Literature, and Engl 2291 International Literature 1.
Ghann encouraged others seeking an adventure to look no further than Ghana.
“It’s an awesome place to be and there are lots of cool cultural things to pick up and so much to do,” Ghann said, noting that people as young as 15 are legally allowed to drive.
Mount Royal’s international education office is available to provide some financial assistance to students. The school is open to students from all disciplines and anyone interested may contact Asante at (403) 440-7736 or Trinda Guillet, with the international education office at (403) 440-5002.