“The next 10 days have the potential to be revolutionizing for the future of education in Ghana,” declared Edify’s CEO, Chris Crane, to the business, peace studies, and School of Leadership and Education Sciences students at our opening dinner in Ghana. With the Buenos Aires practicum and a year and a half of IMBA courses completed, I felt relatively confident going into our project. However, I was clearly unaware of the surprises that the journey I was about to embark upon had in store for me.
On the ride from the airport to our hotel in Kasoa, Edify’s coordinator, Godwin, told us that in Ghana the dusty roads that our van was flying over were “dancing” roads since they make you bounce in your seat. Our practicum experience, like the dancing roads, was a little bumpy and full of twists and turns (can’t say I didn’t warn you). However, the unique challenges that we faced in Ghana were what made the practicum an invaluable experience for me. Because of the widespread informal economy in Ghana, the accurate statistics that we are accustomed to relying on were not available for us to gain a clear understanding of the economy, employment situation or educational system. Not having a clear roadmap to follow forced us to figure out alternate ways to understand the current situation and stop thinking traditionally. Much of our research relied on getting first-hand information through in-depth interviews. Interviewing very different people, we seemed to learn something each day that put us at a crossroads and forced us to take a completely different route. The several detours we encountered taught our group the importance of being flexible and looking at situations from a different point of view.
In the end, our journey and the challenges that came with it allowed us to develop a strategy that addressed the unique situation in Ghana. Our final product, themed “Investing in Transformation,” determined methods for Edify to increase high-impact lending for the incremental development of low-cost private schools. The difficult process definitely made it even more rewarding when the “dancing” road finally brought us to our destination – a plan to help Edify positively affect the most children living in poverty with quality education.
Also, since I keep mentioning dancing, one of the common themes through all of my University of San Diego international travels has been experiencing local dance. Luckily, Ghana did not fail me in that department. We were able to watch children perform traditional dance as well as see some more modern African dance. The group did spend the free time we could find learning new Azonto moves. I’m still working on perfecting the “wash and wear,” but I think I’ve reached my suggested word limit so we’ll have to travel down that road another time (sorry, I couldn’t help it).
Carolyn is a second year IMBA student. She graduated from Seton Hall University with a degree in journalism.
For more information about the Ghana practicum, see Dean Dave Pyke’s Blog.