Introduction to June blog entries…
I am traveling in Ghana during this month of June 2011. I join Dr. Susan Bandoni, a group of 13 undergraduate students from the State University of New York at Geneseo and 6 Ghanaian students from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (from here on I will use the acronym KNUST) in a study of Global Health issues. For those of you that know me well, you know that I am not a biologist. As a musician, composer, and lover of History, I am drawn back to Ghana. Though the focus of this course is not my strength, the vibrant life of West Africa captures my imagination and will surely show up in my next round of musical work.
My role this month is to direct the logistics of the trip, support student writing, and to supplement Susan’s work with lectures/discussions on West African history and culture. I have visited Ghana twice a year for the last couple of years. My time here has been focused on the exploration of Ghanaian music, culture and education. I have worked in a variety of Ghanaian schools, from large public districts to small orphanages. My master’s degree thesis explored ways of leveraging local folklore for the prevention of Ghana’s most widespread children’s disease-malaria.
I have had the privilege of meeting Ghana’s last president and the current Chief Justice of their Supreme Court. I have come to know businessmen, professors, regional chiefs, musicians, and a whole bunch of beautiful kids. Sharing these friends and the wonders of modern Ghana with others is one of my favorite things to do. That being said, I feel like I should receive 3 college credits for all that I am learning. I am seeing new parts of this beautiful and inspiring country with Susan’s guidance. Also, I am indebted to her and the doctors, nurses, and researchers we work with for their wisdom and knowledge. Much of it will show up in the following blog entries. I am also grateful for the patience and linguistic hospitality I receive from Ghanaians. This country has a wide range of traditional languages and their national language is English.
Doing the work of business, government, education, research, and much of day-to-day life requires that any given person here is speaking English as their second, third or fourth language. Though I am learning bits and pieces of Twi (spoken by about 40% of Ghanaians today), my progress is slow. My mistakes are welcomed with good-hearted laughter and gentle correction. The bottom line: I must depend upon the skill and patience of my multi-lingual Ghanaian colleagues and friends to provide a safe and joyful learning experience to this marvelous group of undergraduate students. I hope you enjoy this small window into our time together this month.
Sincerely, Glenn McClure