The academic life at University of Ghana is different from the styles of instruction at Cornell. Personally, I decided to take courses that interested me and that were not large lectures. I decided to take Intro to Traditional African Dance, Introduction to Drumming, Developmental Studies, Internship for credit, Twi language class, and Living and Learning in Ghana.
I highly recommend dancing and drumming while at University of Ghana because these are unique, once in a lifetime experiences you could never find in the States. The dynamic of dance class is almost magical. People from all walks of life are united and share a common heartbeat of the rhythms and dances. Drumming complements dance because in Ghana, you cannot have one without the other. If you are interested in learning about my incredible dance and drumming experiences, go back to this blog entry: http://blogs.cornell.edu/cuakml65/2010/09/29/dance-cape-coast-slave-castles-some-things-only-in-ghana/
I am sure you are wondering about my other classes and if actually did any work this semester. I chose classes that would allow me to experience the joy and passion of Ghana. I took practical classes that allowed me to explore issues I found important in Ghana. I studied when needed, but I was by no means stressed or overloaded like I commonly experience at Cornell. However, some of my friends had to fulfill requirements for their majors back at home. Their academic experience was a lot different from mine. Most of my friends who took classes in large lecture halls said that the lecturers are hard to understand, can be boring at times, do not engage students, and expects students to copy their every word in their notes and regurgitate facts for the exams. Rote memorization is a large part of what is expected for large lectures. Most classes only have a midterm and final, but depending on the class, you may have presentations. Like at Cornell, some classes break into smaller discussion sections. I knew that I did not want to take any large lecture classes and that I would rather take small, interactive, dynamic, practical discussion classes.
I highly recommend the Developmental Studies Track for people who are curious to learn about every aspect of common day Ghana and the development of the country. The class is very hands on and practical. It is accompanied with an internship that is also for credit. We learn about several aspects of Ghana’s development, such as education, health, infrastructure, urban vs. rural issues, sanitation, social services, politics, and gender issues. If you are interested/in love with Ghana or development studies and want to learn as much as you can about a variety of topics, I highly recommend this course. The readings are all very interesting and the tests are very easy (all you have to do on exams is write about the class lectures, readings, and incorporate your own ideas). There are two exams and two or three papers. The final paper is on your internship and it is 10-15 pages double-spaced.
I really loved my internship at the West Africa Aids Foundation and I learned and contributed so much during my time there. I have become good family friends with the doctor (my parents met her during their time visiting me in Ghana this semester) and I plan to come back and intern at the WAAF clinic in the future. In Ghana, there are a lot of opportunities to come up with your own innovative ideas, and you are encouraged to do so. For example, I started the WAAF Ambulance Fund to raise money to get a van to transport patients to and from the clinic in emergencies. Please read more about my incredible internship experiences at this blog entry : http://blogs.cornell.edu/cuakml65/2010/09/06/the-truth-is-blunt-poverty-inequality/
My director taught a 2-credit seminar class called Living and Learning in Ghana. This class was small (only 6 students) and they were all from my program, CIEE. We learned a lot about Ghanaian culture and we learned that with cultural competence, we could bridge gaps between our home culture and Ghanaian culture. Through open, honest discussions we targeted some differences and challenges we were experiencing, and we formulated different ways of viewing situations and understanding each other.
In addition to taking 5 classes and interning at WAAF, I also volunteer at a daycare center. Some of my friends volunteer in schools and in orphanages. There are a lot of volunteer activities around and all you have to do is tell the coordinator for your program that you are interested and he/she will write you a letter of recommendation. You can read more about my overall experience (and all the reasons why I do not want to leave Ghana) at this blog entry: http://blogs.cornell.edu/cuakml65/2010/10/28/we-decided-to-live-in-ghana…-permanently/
I hope this provides more insight about academics at Ghana. If you are interested in other specifics, contact me directly. If I cannot answer your questions from my own experiences, I can put you in touch with one of my friends who can.
Peace and Love.