Ramapo’s Student Leadership program visits Ghana

Photo by Mary Baldwin

Ever imagine yourself walking across a rope bridge 70 meters in the air? How about feeding a wild monkey from your bare hands? The students attending Ramapo’s Student Leadership spring break trip to Ghana found themselves doing all of these things while abroad.

Seven student leaders spent eight sunny days hosted by students from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi. They got to explore fantastic sights that were off the beaten path, as well as meet and learn from fellow undergraduate students.

The trip consisted of several excursions to many culturally significant and historical places throughout Ghana. One of the most memorable sights was the Elmina slave castle, a haunting fortress that was used to hold and transport slaves during the Atlantic slave trade.

The tour guides at the castle were incredibly knowledgeable in the history of the Slave Trade and how it has impacted African and more specifically Ghanaian society. It is truly a humbling experience walking through its stone walls, but is an important reminder of how history must never be repeated.

The students also visited the Kente Cloth site, and met with workers who weaved traditional Kente cloths, which are native to the Akan ethnic group and are found throughout the Ashanti region. The Ashanti are the most dominant ethnic group in Ghana, and at the Kumasi Cultural Center, the students were taught all about Ashanti culture such as traditional dance and ceremonies.

They also got to meander the halls of the Manhyia Palace, the former home to the Ashanti King and Queen Mother. Here, the tour guide explained what it meant to be an Ashanti king, and what his role is in Ghanaian society. These experiences gave each student an insight into the traditions and culture of the Ghanaian people, and immersed the group into what it meant to be Ghanaian.

As a Student Leadership trip, part of the time was spent meeting and learning from KNUST’s Student Representative Council (SRC). Our student leaders attended an official parliamentary council sitting which mimicked an actual seating of Ghanaian Parliament. The students were in awe at how formal the meeting was, as it greatly differed from how most Student Government meetings are held in American colleges and universities.

They also served as honored guests at the Vice Chancellor’s annual dinner, where they met and networked with several KNUST students and professors. Throughout the rest of the week the students also met with several university administrators and even attended a class.

This spring break marked the third Student Leadership trip to Ghana, and only ensured that there will be many more to come. Both Ramapo and KNUST are thrilled by this incredible partnership between our two schools and plan to continue to send students across the Atlantic.

All of our student leaners were given experiences they never would’ve encountered anywhere else, and memories they will carry with them for a lifetime. From meeting with fellow students at KNUST to walking on the beach at Cape Coast, the Student Leadership trip to Ghana is an incredible experience with so much to offer.