Across the sea and back: Fiona Harvey's summer

When senior Fiona Harvey flew across the ocean to visit Ghana for the first time, she expected to grow, learn and absorb all that a new place had to offer. She didn't know she could feel the same about her hometown of New York City.

Harvey actually completed two separate study abroad programs over the summer - the first in Ghana and the second with the newly developed NYC Humanities program. Harvey is a Jamaican-American originally from Queens, N.Y.

Five Geneseo students traveled with Harvey to Accra, Ghana in the early part of the summer to participate in a three-week global health issues program through Geneseo's study abroad office. The students took courses during the day and in the evenings visited hospitals, clinics, waterfalls, botanical gardens, research centers, the El Mina slave dungeon and even a gold mine 800 feet underground.

"People are smiling [in Ghana]," Harvey said. "People are very warm and welcoming." She said that her impressions of Ghanaian people ran counter to images and impressions of African peoples that are often disseminated in popular media. She said that the country felt like home and that she learned a great deal about herself - "It was a change for me, but it was a good change."

Upon returning stateside, Harvey had no time to rest because the NYC Humanities program developed and coordinated by English professor Ron Herzman was already a week in session.

Ten students participated in the program, which condenses the four-credit Humanities I course into an intensive four-week program. Students spent several hours each day on the campus of Manhattan College in Bronx, N.Y. and took several excursions to cultural destinations like Cloisters, Yankees Stadium, Shakespeare in the Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, French bistros and Italian restaurants.

"We tried everything that the city has to offer … we embraced it all," Harvey said. Although Harvey is a native New Yorker, she said that seeing the city through the lens of the Humanities course gave her a whole new perspective. She said Herzman compared "everything we learned to everyday life," and that she and her classmates were able to interact with tour guides more meaningfully as a result of having taken the course. She recommended that students both from NYC and other regions of the state consider the summer program. "You get a big chunk of what the city has to offer and you learn a lot."

Harvey has spent time in Australia, Asia, South America and now Africa, but her desire to travel has not waned. She said that she would love to complete Humanities II in Nicaragua, schedule permitting.