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Jun 22 / Ashley Joseph

Cultural Awareness

A beautiful Cape Coast beach

How can we change the world without understanding it? As students seeking to impact the world that we live in, it is crucial that we become culturally aware. Cultural awareness brings open-mindedness and an eventual appreciation and understanding of the diversity in the world. I appreciate how much I learned about the rich Ghanaian culture on our trip and was happy to experience the warmth and love of the people we interacted with there.

In Choosing Civility, Forni discusses another rule of considerate conduct which is to “Respect others’ opinions”. He emphasizes the importance of being open-minded and tolerant of the diversity around us. This leads to a more harmonious and progressive society. We don’t always have to like whatever we encounter in another culture, but we have to learn how to respect it. For example, while in Ghana we had the opportunity to try variety of new foods. Most of the cuisine I had was excellent! However, there was one cultural dish that I wasn’t too fond of – fufu. This is a traditional dish made of tapioca that has a thick, pasty consistency and is usually eaten with a curry. Though I did not really like the dish, I respected the time and effort the hotel staff had taken to prepare the meal for us, so I ate as much as I could so as not to seem rude and ungrateful.

African culture is very unique and rich with tradition and history. On one of our recreation days, we had the chance to learn about and practice traditional African drumming and dancing. It was quite a fun experience! We were taught how to drum on a djembe drum by a master drummer. I loved learning the different rhythms and beats. We were also taught traditional dancing steps used in ceremonies. The steps were beautiful but difficult for me learn.

Learning traditional African drumming on the djembe from a master drummer

Learning more about Africa’s history of slavery was very thought-provoking and emotional. We visited an ancestral slave site where many slaves walked through before they were sold to masters or died from starvation and exhaustion. We also visited Elmina Castle, which was a site where slaves were held in mass numbers before being shipped to different countries. They were living in such harsh and intolerable conditions. Their dignity was stripped from them. It was heart-breaking to learn about the cruelty the people suffered at the hands of fellow human beings.

Ancestral Slave River Walk

Overall, the trip to Ghana was a very enlightening and rewarding journey. I am grateful for having the opportunity to learn about Ghanaian culture and contribute globally as well. I am happy that I experienced Ghana with such an amazing group of students and faculty, from whom I learned a lot.

Trip to Wli Waterfalls, Volta Region

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