Eight social work students went to Ghana West Africa for a study abroad course in June. The course Human Rights and Social Justice Applied allowed students to enhance their understanding and skill in applying social justice and human rights perspectives to their professional work and personal analysis. The program included academic learning, cultural immersion, and a service learning component. The academic learning component allowed students to learn about the distinct socio-cultural and historical context of Ghana through lectures, guest lectures from Ghanaian University professors, readings, and daily reflection circles. The program included immersion in Ghanaian culture through excursions including trips to both the Cape Coast and Elmina Slave Castles, Kumasi, multiple non-governmental service organizations, a rural village, and the botanical gardens. Ghanaian peers, social work students from the University of Ghana, East Legon served as cultural guides throughout the process, helping Texas State students understand the cultural implications and subtle nuances of interaction with the project site.
We also had the honor of being hosted at a reception by Herman Chinery-Hesse, a Texas State Distinguished Alumnus, known as the Bill Gates of Ghana at a reception where students got to meet Ghanaian dignitaries, hip hop artists, entrepreneurs, and heads of governmental and non-governmental agencies. The students also researched, designed, and implemented a service learning component at Paulina’s Queensland School in Agobloshie one of the largest slums in the country. Student Christina Burrows described the project as follows: ““our group decided to work with the students and teachers at Paulina’s Queensland School in Agobloshie. For our project, the group decided that our time would be well spent by providing resources that the school needed to help better serve the children. The audience that we primarily focused on was that of the younger children in the nursery area, however, we did also collect materials that would assist all the age groups. A few of the resources that we gathered include 8 bags of concrete (to help improve the deteriorating building structure of the school), a generous amount of student workbooks (that will assist students in writing and English), books (as a first step in beginning a library for the students), chalk, erasers, crayons, and posters."