It was a long trip to West Africa but certainly a rewarding one.
“Ghana was an absolutely beautiful country and the people I had the opportunity to work with, and befriend, were kind (and) intelligent,” said Jennifer Fitzpatrick, a fourth-year Political Science student, who spent three months abroad with Brock’s Global Transitions program.
“(They) went out of their way to ensure we felt safe and welcome,” she added.
The Global Transitions program provided seven students with the opportunity to spend the Fall semester overseas and “enhanced their university experience by volunteering alongside the Ghanaian people,” said Dan Portanova, Global Transitions assistant.
The students gained practical experience learning about the country through their volunteer work and theoretical experience by taking Brock online credit courses specifically designed for the GT program.
GT is perfect for students who have a sense of adventure, curiosity and a desire to experience another part of the world, offered Portanova.
“Not only do students learn more about Ghana, they learn more about Canada and themselves,” he said.
GT students chose their placement in one of three areas: health promotion, education and teaching or social programming. These placements aimed to complement their academic interests.
Details, costs and application forms are available at brocku.ca/international-services. Applications for next fall are due no later than March 29, 2013.
Chantal McDougall, 21, of St. Catharines, a third-year Child and Youth Studies student, was also in Ghana with Fitzpatrick, 21, of Hillsburg, Ont. Here are some of their thoughts.
Where in Ghana did you go and for how long?
Jennifer: I lived in Accra, which is the largest city in Ghana, but I visited almost every region. I lived there for three months at Elizabeth Frances Sey Hall at the University of Ghana … and did a lot of travelling on weekends.
Chantal: I stayed at the Sey hostel for three months. We also went on trips. One trip was to the Volta Region. We stayed there for four days (including travel) and we ended up seeing Wili Falls, which was a gigantic waterfall … We also went to the Tafi Atome monkey sanctuary and we fed monkeys … It was quite exciting! Another trip worth mentioning was the Mole Region Trip, where we stayed at the national park’s resort (and) spent time on a safari …
What did you do while in Ghana?
Jennifer: I volunteered at Adenta Community Kindergarten School in Adenta during the week while taking one online intercultural studies class through Brock.
Chantal: I had a volunteer placement at the Adjiriganor kindergarten school. I worked with four-to-six-year-olds and I assisted the teacher with marking. I also led exercise and song routines and helped the kids with writing. It was a phenomenal experience in which I learned how to adapt to limited resources and learn new ways to teach and interact with children. It was a learning experience I will never forget for the children impacted my life so much more than I expected ….
What did this experience mean to you?
Jennifer: This experience had a huge impact on how I live my life now. As a political science student, I was aware of the issues facing developing nations … Even though these were the poorest people I had ever met, they were the richest people in terms of overall happiness and family. The children worked so hard to learn to read and write; it was obvious they valued their education.
Chantal: This experience not only furthered my learning and understanding of culture and the role it plays in working with children, it also enhanced my spiritual life. While I was in Ghana I joined a local church and gained a community of people that taught me, laughed with me and shared their hearts with me. It was an unexpected blessing … it helps you figure out what you want to do with your life and the person you would like to be.
Will the experience help you with your future goals?
Jennifer: I hope that my time in Ghana will help in my search for a career in my related field. So far, all jobs for NGO’s do require experience working abroad, which I have now … I believe the lessons I learned while there will help me in my future endeavours.
Chantal: (The trip) not only opened up new possibilities for the future but it also helped us all set goals and challenge ourselves to dream, and see that pushing your boundaries and stepping outside the box is truly the moment when you realize that only you can limit yourself …