The Ghana Project, a group of students who hope to build a school in Ghana, hosted a gala in a buzzing Wyoming Hall on March 26.
After being introduced by lead organizers sophomore Rejoyce Owusu, senior Ben DeGeorge and junior Jesse Parent, international programs professor Wes Kennison welcomed the group and spoke about his recent trip to Ghana. He highlighted the overwhelming air of civility and peacemaking he experienced. Kennison made it clear that "we have more to learn from [Ghanaians] and their wonderful spirits than they do from us."
Guests were then taught the Ghanaian handshake, involving a complicated shake and snap, and to say welcome in the friendly Ghanaian way, "Akwaaba!"
Students then modeled traditional and formal Ghanaian clothing, exhibiting bright colors and vibrant patterns that coordinate with those worn by others in their respective families.
"It was interesting to compare Ghanaian clothes to those of my Malian cousins," said freshman Ben Perry. "Malian clothes are definitely more muted."
Freshman James Dorsey said, "Because I'm from such a small town, I've never been exposed to other cultures in such a cool format as this. It's really exciting."
Guests were later invited to dine on Campus Auxiliary Services-provided free Ghanaian food, including a spicy chicken dish with joloff rice and dessert. There was an opportunity to write to Ghanaian pen pals, purchase CDs and T-shirts and sign up for the group's upcoming 5K.
As part of the event visiting Ghanaian professor Owusu Dapa briefly discussed Ghanaian history and said he appreciated the high level of enthusiasm displayed by the students.
"Service learning and volunteering opportunities create a good feeling in your sense of character," Owusu said. "I hope everyone tries it at least once at some point."
"It's always amazing to see the level of volunteerism that students exhibit on this campus," DeGeorge added.
Overall, the night was an incredible success. Parent said he was enthused by the great turnout: "A huge thank you is in order to all of the people who put in so many hours of work just to get this event off the ground."