International Studies & Programs

Stereotypes of Africa debunked

The culture within Ghana was diverse and the people were intelligent, creative, and unbelievably kind.

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Published: Thursday, 07 Dec 2023 Author: Jenna Koelsch

Jenna sitting in front of a clinic in GhanaThe program was a culminating experience that enabled me to practice community-based research from beginning to end, applying principles of community engagement, health equity, and social justice.

As a future Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho, my study abroad program to Ghana gave me insight into traveling abroad and understanding how to practice cultural humility among diverse groups.

I felt greatly impacted personally and professionally by this study abroad experience. Traveling to a low-middle-income country like Ghana provided significant perspective on absolute poverty and debunked racist, colonialist stereotypes about Africa. The culture within Ghana was diverse and the people Group of students from the program in Ghanawere intelligent, creative, and unbelievably kind. The collective mindset was an ongoing shock factor to witness—complete strangers never hesitated to help one another, and people were always prepared to use their time to help you.

Despite Ghana’s official language being English, many people preferred to speak the local language, Twi. When conducting this research, my lack of Twi created a significant communication barrier, and our group required translators to complete our focus groups. However, despite knowing very little Twi, people were extremely supportive of myself and other students practicing Twi.

Overall, my experience was life changing. Jenna posing with local school childrenIt reminded me that hope is what drives us forward, and it instilled in me a greater sense on interconnectedness.

To the Office for Education Abroad, thank you for your generous donation of support for students like me. Creating equitable opportunities for students to study abroad begins with funding, and this scholarship helped close my financial gap. I extend my deepest gratitude.

Name: Jenna Koelsch
Status: Graduate
Major: Public Health
Hometown: Ionia, Michigan
Program: Public Health in Ghana: A One Health Perspective