North Central College - Naperville, IL

D-Term in Ghana

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Development and the Environment in Ghana

The students involved in the three-week study abroad program enrolled in a two-credit-hour course, “Development and the Environment in Ghana,” (ENV/GLS 177) . The hands-on course included an introduction to Ghanaian history and culture, an investigation of the tension between development and environmental and social issues through the lens of gold mining and an examination of West Africa’s slave history through a tour of culturally significant landmarks.

After a nine-hour flight from New York, the group landed in Accra, the capital of Ghana. They traveled the next day in a 20-year-old Nissan van to Kumasi, a city of a million and a half people in the center of Ghana. During their five-day stay in Kumasi, the group traveled to a monkey sanctuary, visited an open air market and was able to observe a national election.

Next was the town of Kenyasi in the Brong Ahafo region. Kenyasi has seen increased vehicle traffic due to new gold mining industry in the area, and for the students it was a great example of the repercussions of environmental change.

With the small size of their group, they were able to talk to people without being too conspicuous. They were able to eat with families, develop relationships themselves and see everyday life in a growing Ghanaian village up close. The students also helped with the hard labor of harvesting plantains, cassava, and cocoa yam.

Also, while in Kenyasi, the group traveled to different gold mining sites, from the big American mining company to illegal and independent miners. They used the same methods of mining gold as was used in the California Gold Rush. “It was a devastating thing to see—women and children working with no protection, many times with mercury, as well as the destruction of the landscape,” said Martha Bohrer, the faculty member who accompanied the students.

After leaving Kenyasi, the group traveled to the coast for another five-day stay before returning to the capital for their flight home.