Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression
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Excursions are a central component of the Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression program and provide students with experiential learning opportunities for a broader and deeper understanding of course content. Excursions include visits to museums, artistic performances or studios, shrines, and other locations of interest; students also have multiple opportunities to directly engage with local experts in the production of Ghanaian art forms.
The city of Kumasi is both the heart of the Asante nation and an outstanding example of a pre-colonial urban center. Despite the city's urban feel, Kumasi has retained its rich history and cultural heritage. During this two week excursion, students are based at Kumasi Anglican Secondary School (KASS) where they learn the language Twi directly from community experts. Additionally, students take classes on research methodology and conduct site visits to Bonwire and Atonso, the capital of Asante kente weaving and the adinkra symbols, respectively. Students also have the opportunity to experience Kejetia, one of West Africa's largest markets. During their time in Kumasi, students live with a homestay family.
Students spend one week in Tamale, Ghana's third largest city and capital of the country's Northern Region. This excursion immerses students in the home of the Dagomba people and their unique style of music. It also provides an opportunity to compare and contrast the Northern Region's distinct political, economic, and social characteristics with what they have experienced along the coast. The central mosque in the heart of the city is a reminder of the importance of Islam in this part of Ghana, a country in which a large portion of the population identifies as Christian.
The city of Cape Coast served as the original capital of the Gold Coast until 1877 when it was moved to Accra. During this excursion, students examine a transformative and highly turbulent period in Ghanaian history. Both in Cape Coast and in the nearby town of Elmina, students visit two extremely important edifices which originally functioned as trade forts before being turned into dungeons during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Frequently during this excursion, students begin to draw important connections between watersheds in Ghana's history and the country's contemporary socioeconomic and cultural conditions. Rabbi Kohain Halevi, the executive secretariat of PANAFEST, a bi-annual festival designed to unit Africa and African Diaspora communities, leads the lecture and discussions after these important site visits.
During the period in Cape Coast, students also take a day trip to the University of Winneba to attend lectures by Kwakuvi Azasu. Time in Winneba exposes students to many of the artistic styles taught at the university's Department of Art Education.
At the conclusion of the excursion to Cape Coast, students visit Kakum National Park and view a performance by Kukyekukyeku, a bamboo stamping-tube orchestra residing in a small community in Kakum Forest.
This excursion exposes students to the distinct performing arts of the southern Volta Region, home of the Anlo Ewe. The region has been an area long admired for its religious institutions and performing arts. Students are initially based at Vume, an important center in the production of handmade clay pots which students, over the two days there, build with guidance from women artisans. Time spent in locations closer to the Togolese boarder, such as Dagbamete, Klikor, Aflao, and Kopeyia, provides students the opportunity to witness powerful religious experiences in Afa and Yewe shrines. Students learn, and may also have the opportunity to drum and perform, well known regional pieces such as agbadza, adzogbo, gahu, and atsiagbekor.
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