February 8, 2023

Summer on the Continent: lessons from Ghana

From Japan to Egypt to France, NCC has a wide range of study abroad programs for its students. And now Ghana, West Africa is being added to that list.

“It’s valuable for every student to have an international perspective,” Professor Sholomo Levy said, leaning back in his chair.

Levy traveled to Ghana on behalf of NCC to determine if it was possible to start a study abroad program with a university in the country. As part of that visit, Levy was able to submerge himself in the culture of Ghana as well as in its rich, and sometimes dark, history.

Reflecting back on his interactions and observations during the trip, Levy says,”There is a lot that we can learn from them.” He was particularly struck by the diversity in Ghana. In the U.S. there is no distinction within a race. So an individual is black, or Hispanic or Asian without any differentiation within the race but in Ghana, Levy says, “identity is more than skin deep. The Ghanaians are Ewe, Gha, Fante, Ashanti.” They are ethnically diverse but there is a “high degree of cohesion” among them.

He observes that Ghana is a good example of how people “can preserve their unique identities” while still remaining united.

During his trip, Levy visited the statues and grave of Kwame Nkrumah, the man who led Ghana to independence from Great Britain. He ate traditional foods like fufu and Jollof rice. And he visited the slave castles along the coast.

As an African-American and a professor of history, one can imagine how surreal visiting the slave castles were for Levy.

Ghana’s beautiful coastlines are clustered with castles that speak of a dark past. People who would later be sold as slaves were often held captive -chained and shackled- in these castles before being shipped off to the New World. For some of those people, the castles were the last sight they’d ever see before perishing at sea during the Middle Passage.

In his Essay, “Memories of Africa: A Son Returns,” Levy describes his visit to one of the castles. “It was like visiting a crime scene -except without the yellow tape and chalk drawings that outline the bodies of our murdered relatives.”

Because of the contacts Levy was able to establish, NCC students can now travel to West Africa to study at the University of Ghana.

“We want to train students for life, not just a job,” Levy said, contemplating the success of the trip and what it means for students. He wants students to be prepared to function in an increasingly global environment. The NCC Global Studies programs work toward that goal.

The study abroad program to Ghana will be held in the Summer I 2020 semester. The course is titled, “Africa: Past, Present, and Future of Humanity.” The application can be found at http://www.northampton.edu/ncc-study-abroad-application.htm and scholarships are available.

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