Six students and two faculty members from the School of Human Environmental Sciences explored food, farming and entrepreneurial activities in Ghana, West Africa through a three-week study abroad experience in May, 2015. The first week of the course featured meetings on campus at the University of Kentucky designed to prepare the students for the following two weeks of international travel.

2015 Ghana Tour travelers

The trip this summer focused on Ghana’s geographic regions, history, agricultural practices and entrepreneurial opportunities for women. Through the curriculum and travel, students developed a deeper understanding of how hunger, agriculture and gender disparities impact the lives of families in a developing country. Since 2004, faculty in the School have provided an annual or biennial opportunity for students to broaden their horizons and education through study abroad in Ghana.

Global Mama's SignThe 2015 experience abroad began with two days at the University of Ghana in Accra. Faculty members from the University of Ghana presented lecture sessions about the country and students experienced history and culture through visits to museums and art centers. The group then embarked upon eight days of travel to villages across Ghana, experiencing first-hand the daily life of Ghanaian families. Stops along the journey included a batik factory, a cocoa processing facility, The Kentucky Academy Kindergarten, the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, Elmina Castle and Kakum Park Rainforest.

Janet Mullins, Extension professor, Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, shared, “Students traveling to Ghana have a rare opportunity to study on the African continent. They participate in lectures on the University of Ghana campus and travel to remote villages for a rural, cultural experience. Our school feeding program at the Kentucky Academy helps them see how UK HES works to fight hunger globally.”

Global Mamas - ThackstonNew to the itinerary this year was one full day at Global Mamas in Cape Coast. Global Mamas is a nonprofit, fair trade organization founded in 2003 to create prosperity for African women and their families. The Global Mamas community includes a network of ‘mamas’ who produce batik textiles, shea butter products and glass bead jewelry and décor using traditional production methods. The Global Mamas staff manage production and quality and work to export products for retail sale. The UK study group participated in a batik class at Global Mamas, allowing each person the opportunity to design and create their own hand-dyed batik fabric. In addition, the group took part in a Ghanaian cooking class.

Dr. Kim Spillman, associate professor, Department of Retailing and Tourism Management shared, “The students met and interacted with 4 'Mamas' during their day-long experience of batiking fabric and cooking traditional African foods. These Mamas were so positive and encouraging while presenting superb information. The students were very excited prior to the day of hands-on activity and they were not disappointed at the day's end. It was an extremely positive experience for all!”

Global Mamas - Spillman and Tre

Students concluded the travel experience with a return to the University of Ghana to reflect upon their journey and explore answers to questions developed during their eight days of village travel. Each student prepared a video summarizing their experience. The videos are available as linked below.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

The next study abroad to Ghana is scheduled for 2017. The syllabus and promotional materials will be available through the UK Education Abroad program and the School of Human Environmental Sciences in fall 2016.

2015 Ghana Tour Students and Facutly