Toward the end of spring semester last year, I walked into the office of the editor in chief at the Collegian with an interesting proposition: “How would the Collegian like to have its own foreign correspondent reporting from Ghana next year?” Brandon Lowery, then editor in chief, looked baffled.
I explained that I had been recently rewarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study for two semesters at any university of my choosing – granted there was a Rotary club in the vicinity.
For me, the choice was not a difficult one. I confined my selection of universities to the continent of Africa because its diversity and tumultuous history has always fascinated me. Furthermore, I wanted to challenge the notion held by some that Africa is a lost continent, plagued with malice, debauchery and hopelessness. There was also an element of personal challenge in my decision. I must confess that I sincerely enjoy complicating my life and I am told that Africa does not disappoint in this department.
Narrowing down the list, I looked for English-speaking countries and, in the interest of preserving my families’ health, ones that were not currently engaged in any civil war, border skirmish, genocide or any other form of human rights violations.
In the end, I opted to attend the University of Ghana in Accra, the capital city.
For those a little rusty on their African geography, Ghana is a western state. Situated along the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana borders the Ivory Coast on the west, Togo on the east and Burkina Faso to the north.
With a population of 20 million, Ghana is made up of approximately 60 different ethnic groups – each with a distinct language and traditional customs. However, the official language of the country is English, having previously been a British colony.
Needless to say, the Collegian accepted my proposal, marking my third semester as a columnist.
Unlike my previous columns, however, these will be in the form of a letter addressed to the community at large. It is my intention to provide readers with a host of engaging columns, ranging from personal experiences to interviews with locals on relevant issues in Ghana and, more broadly, Africa.
I will also include the perspectives of Ghanaians on topics concerning the United States. For example, what their views are on Barack Obama and what their stance is on the Iraq war.
My hope is that these letters will be both entertaining and thought provoking, possibly encouraging others to experience Africa on their own account or apply for a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship in the near future.
Personally, I believe this experience will be challenging and, most definitely, eye opening. This is the first time that I step foot in Africa and, what is more, I have never lived in dorms before. Instead of experiencing dorm life during my freshmen year, I will be doing so my senior year.
Now that I have laid the groundwork for what is to come, I leave you to take an ice-cold bucket shower. Apparently, the shower water has run out again so it’s off to the courtyard to fetch some water. Bucket showers are a standard here on the campus dorms.
That and electricity shortages, of course.
Luci Storelli-Castro is a senior political science and philosophy major. Her column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.