From Accra to Anomabu:
Service and Leadership in the Republic of Ghana [Part 2]
Spirits were high on the first day of the group’s second week in Ghana, and students felt refreshed and ready to get back to work. This time, the group traveled to the small village of Krofu for a day of construction. As the bus traversed the winding dirt path to the village, the group was informed that before starting any construction work, they were going to be officially welcomed by the village elder, a significant honor!
The elder, who spoke in his native tongue, expressed his gratitude for the service work of the Wagner students. He explained that the group would be helping to build a library for the village and shared his hope that the space could one day be a gathering place for not only the residents of Krofu, but many of the neighboring villages as well. Knowing the impact that this building would have on the community, students were thrilled to be a part of it.
However, as the group quickly found out, construction work is hard! Cement had to be mixed by hand, and cinderblocks had to be carried one by one to be placed around the structure. Luckily, Wagner students are great at teamwork.
“It felt like a blessing, being welcomed into a new community by the elders and having the opportunity to participate in constructing such an important space. The people were so kind and excited to have us there. It was one of my favorite memories from Ghana.” – Kelly Glenn ’17, Sociology
While most of the group was hard at work building the library, some students found themselves teaching the village children traditional American games like Duck, Duck, Goose and the Hokey Pokey. Everyone was having a great time, and Wagner students were sure to get in plenty of selfies with their new friends. It was a great day!
Over the next two days, the group spent time at the Anani Memorial International School of Ghana helping to paint and renovate the outside walls of the building. The schoolchildren were thrilled to have visitors (which meant a morning of no classes!), and they welcomed the group with a lively musical performance. After they finished, they grabbed the Wagner students and started a traditional song and dance circle. Some of the group even got to sit in on the percussion section!
“My eyes have been opened…I’ve come here with the mindset of having my thoughts and biases broken. And they have been.” – Cynedra Osinaike ’18, Government and Politics
After two days spent in Accra, students were itching to explore more of rural Ghana. They were in luck, as the group was headed to Purity School, a small village school in the mountainous Eastern Region of Ghana, about two hours outside of the city. Wagner students prepared various classroom lessons and spent hours with the students teaching drawing, design, singing and traditional Indian and Latin dancing. The schoolchildren were so excited to have new markers to color with and had a blast trying new styles of dance.
Meanwhile, those who weren’t teaching were helping to clear a pathway for the schoolchildren to make their way to their classrooms each day. Purity School is nestled in the foothills of a steep and rocky mountainside, and access to the building can be limited. Once the path was created, Wagner students helped paint the rocks to illuminate the new walkways. It was a wonderful way to end the group’s community service.
“The trip has been unexpected, eye opening and humbling for me, and I can’t wait to see how Ghana will change me.” – Amanda Akaliza ’18, International Affairs
The final day in Accra arrived quickly. After a hearty breakfast of porridge and pineapple, the group drove to the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan African Culture to learn more about the journalist, educator and civil rights activist, Dr. William Du Bois. Dr. Du Bois co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909, and his work has impacted generations of leaders, scholars and researchers. Students had the opportunity to tour his private library and his final resting place, and it was a privilege to walk the grounds of his home.
Later that afternoon, a unique opportunity arose for two students and three administrators who were invited to make a guest appearance on a daytime radio program on 99.7 Joy FM, Ghana’s first English-speaking private radio station. Live on air, Wagner students shared their experience in Ghana including what they learned, what surprised them and what they plan to take back to the United States.
The day concluded with a final group dinner on the campus of the University of Ghana. The students were treated to an authentic African drum and dance troupe, and after some convincing, everyone got up to shake their groove thangs. It was a perfect ending to a spectacular trip. Tomorrow, the group will rise at 5:00 a.m. for an early flight back to snowy New York City.
After two weeks of learning, serving, and reflecting, it’s time to go home. We are so grateful for the warm welcome into Ghana and the homes of her people. For every “thank you” we received, we had to say it back one thousand times. The work and wisdom of our time in Ghana will have a lasting impact.
“This trip was amazing and fulfilling in every way. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of it.” – Beth Cruz ’71