Interprofessional experiences in Ghana

(Left: Director Deborah Wislon - Allam. Center: Professor Clemmie Harris. Right: Professor Ellen Smith)

(Left: Director Deborah Wislon – Allam. Center: Professor Clemmie Harris. Right: Professor Ellen Smith)

Thomas Belcher, Contributing Writer

As part of the Geo Talk Seminar Series, professors Dr. Clemmie Harris, Dr. Ellen Smith and Deborah Wilson-Allam, the director of international education, gave a talk about an interprofessional experience in Ghana they took part in over the summer on Friday, Sept. 23.

From June 13 to 23, Harris, an Associate Professor of History, Smith, an Associate Professor of Nursing and Wilson-Allam traveled throughout Ghana and visited several locations such as: the capital Accra, Cape Coast, Kumasi and Ho to name a few. 

While traveling, they visited and met with several different healthcare focused organizations such as: the International Health Care Clinic, West Africa Aids Foundation, Center for Plant Medicine Research and Kekeli Ghana. Additionally, they also visited Cape Coast Castle and the Assin Manso Slave River Site, both locations with history deeply rooted to the Atlantic Slave Trade.

All of this was done to promote relations and make professional connections in Ghana in order to provide future opportunities for Utica University students along with international students in Ghana. 

As stated in their combined presentation, they chose Ghana as their destination for several reasons. They hope to encourage more students to participate in the international studies program as well as providing more diverse options for international study destinations. They also wish to provide an option for the ten percent of Utica University students who are of African American descent to explore their West African Heritage. 

Many previous international students that attended Utica in the past had come from Ghana. Ghana itself is an affordable travel destination as a developing country that will provide many opportunities in educational and professional experiences going forward.

All three speakers shared their own personal thoughts on the experiences of the trip as well as their interpretations of key social and cultural topics such as health care, education, and the African Diaspora in Ghana with the combined crowd of Utica University students, staff and community members. All of this was supported by pictures and videos of their trip in Ghana that showed off the highlights of their travels. 

Hunter Sanford, a sophomore physics major who attends Harris’ class on the African Diaspora, was motivated to attend the talk because of said class.

“So we learned all about how it [African Diaspora] started in the past and how we haven’t seen as much as it translates over to modern day,” Stanford said. “So being able to see how it all comes together makes it a lot easier to understand.”

Assistant Professor of English Ane Caroline Ribeiro Costa, a recent hire to Utica who teaches and researches the African Diaspora, also attended the event.

“When I met everybody, Dr. Harris told me about his trip to Ghana and how everything had been very interesting and amazing,” Ribeiro Costa said. “He told me they were going to have this lecture today and I was excited to hear about it. I teach and I research the African Diaspora and there is a lot to say about the legacy of slavery in many countries, including Brazil where I’m from, so I was interested from the beginning.”

Ribeiro Costa said that she was impressed with the lecture.

“The talk was amazing and it was even more than I had expected. I thought Doctor Harris, as a historian, was going to talk about the story of Ghana as he did and it was very enlightening to see the pictures of the dungeons and Cape Cod Castle where the slaves where kept before they were brought to the into the United States and many other countries,” Ribeiro Costa said. “I was also impressed with the other talks as well. They focused on the hospitals and schools in Ghana. I was very impressed by the whole spectrum of everything they said and covered. I wish I could say more, because you just have to go there and experience it yourself.”

Another trip to Ghana is being planned for January, in addition to a trip to Egypt around the same time as well. However both trips are dependent on obtaining funding. If any members of the student body, faculty, or Utica Community wish to participate or contribute to future professional experiences in Ghana, please contact either Harris, Smith or Wilson-Allam.