Thirteen students traveled to Ghana this summer for three and a half weeks to conduct research through Lehigh’s first study abroad program in the country.
Ten students participated in the trip through Lehigh’s credit program, and three traveled through research grants. Each conducted their own research in the country, focusing on issues ranging from mental health problems across Ghana to education and its relations to poverty.
The students and professors who went on the trip presented their findings and shared their experiences at a poster exhibit in Williams Hall Thursday.
Sirry Alang, an assistant professor of sociology and health, medicine and society, helped to organize the trip and traveled to Ghana with the students. She said a lot of planning went into organizing a trip of such magnitude, but everything went smoothly because of the support she and the team received from Lehigh.
Alang said the students in the program were a “fantastic group” that came from different disciplines and schools across Lehigh.
Cassidy Drost, ’20, described her first trip outside the United States as the “greatest cultural experience of (her) life.”
She said the people she traveled with came from different backgrounds and everyone carried out their individual research projects related to health and globalization. The trip was a success, she said, because her experience made her aware of all the problems countries like Ghana have.
Kwame Essien, an assistant professor of history and Africana studies, said the experience in Ghana served as an opportunity for each student to pursue their individual goals while also observing local cuisine and culture. The students visited local markets, hospitals, slave castles and even attended a local funeral.
The trip to Ghana allowed students to work on independent projects, which they can choose to further pursue. Alang said the students who attended the trip had options of how they chose to learn and make an impact during the summer.
Katie Morris, ’18, is the president of No Lost Generation, a club that supports and creates awareness about refugees across campus and the local Bethlehem community. She traveled to Ghana this summer to experience life at refugee camps and gain a better understanding of the refugee system in Africa.
“I really wanted to understand the refugee system so that I can make a bigger impact at Lehigh,” Morris said.
She visited two United Nations refugee camps and thinks she has gained the knowledge and expertise to make a difference across Lehigh on a much larger scale. Morris plans to organize various fundraisers and refugee awareness events on campus this year.
The program in Ghana will be offered again next summer, and Lehigh students have the opportunity to conduct independent research or participate in existing initiatives set up by students, such as the Digitizing Africa project by alum Frederick Coleman, ’17.