Guest Writer: Stephanie Vernier
Majors: Food/CPG Marketing & Supply Chain Management
Program: Business and Culture in Ghana
Duration: Summer I, 2016
While studying abroad with Dr. Mumuni I got to experience what going to college in Accra, Ghana would be like from our tour of the college there. Although classes were not in session because of the election, we got to tour and get a really good feeling of what the campus culture was like. The college was a lot larger than I had expected with a large business college.
Being that the United States just went through our own election, being in a foreign country during theirs was very interesting. The country was split in half nearly exactly in the election. Dr. Al took us to a district after the results came out where 99% of the people had elected the person who won. Everyone was out in the streets and at the market with apparel that supported the candidate. There isn’t nearly as much joy in the US after an election as we had seen the weekend of theirs. It was also interesting to see how they cast their vote. Because of the lack of technology, the ballots are hand counted on TV so that the citizens can see the transparency of the government.
Visiting the markets was one of my favorite parts of our trip. We saw how people supported their families by selling basic needs of the community, such as flour, sugar, meats, and vegetables. Getting to experience the bartering system was also unique. In the US, we rarely negotiate prices whereas in Ghana, anything and everything is negotiable. Negotiating is something that I have always had a hard time with so getting to practice it in a different environment was beneficial for me to bring back.
My favorite part of our trip was being able to witness and take part in a naming ceremony in one of Ghana’s villages. When a child is born in the village we went to, the parents do not name their child right away. When they finally choose a name, they present the child to everyone and give them their name. There are prayers, music, and dancing that are all a part of the ceremony and it was very special that the village allowed us to be named and witness their culture first hand.
I was surprised that we didn’t have a problem communicating abroad. Surprisingly, English is the official language of Ghana. The people of Ghana were so welcoming and wanted us to have a great experience. I could see in the eyes of the people how much they love their country and wanted us to see it that was as well.