A night of Ghanaian culture raises awareness

On Saturday March 3 the Ghana Project and the brothers of Zeta Beta Xi hosted the Fourth Annual Ghana Gala in the College Union Ballroom.

The night started off with a drumming demonstration as attendees found their seats to dine. The menu consisted of traditional Ghanaian and West African dishes, including Jollof rice, "Red Red," banku, fried plantains, fried rice and traditionally-seasoned chicken.

After dinner, Geneseo alumnus and former Ghana Project president Rejoyce Owusu '11 gave a speech about civic engagement and her experience with the Ghana Project. "When I think about the Ghana Project, two words come into mind: Civic engagement and community service," Owusu said. "When you enter a civic engagement project it's not something that you can just walk away from. You put your heart and your soul into the project."

Guests were then treated to an African-inspired dance routine, choreographed by Ghana Project vice president sophomore Tatiana Abaya and senior Daisy Luma-Haddison.

"I'm African, I'm not Ghanaian," Luma-Haddison said. "But anything African is something [that deals] with your [own] people. Africa was a whole continent before those imaginary lines were drawn, so everything African draws you in because we're all giving back to the same place."

After the dance, biology professor Susan Bandoni Muench spoke about Ghana. Muench teaches BIOL 388: Biology and Global Health in Ghana every year, and she discussed the hardships that Ghanaians face every day and students' experience with the course.

After a brief intermission, there was a fashion show that presented the crowd with an array of traditional Ghanaian dress.

Adjunct professor Glenn McClure then presented a speech in which he compared a new and struggling, but optimistic America in the 1800s to present-day Ghana.

The gala closed with a final dance routine put on by members of the organization. "We put on the Ghana Gala every year to educate the community about Ghana, because a lot of people don't know anything about it, and to try to raise money for our organization," said Ghana Project president sophomore Sarah Ackerman. "We try to show what Ghana has to offer and show what all the great students here who are from Ghana, or from Africa, can do."

The Ghana Project, through the Ghana Gala, also raises money for needy or ailing schools in Ghana. "We are currently supporting the New Juaben Senior High School [a high school in Koforidua, Ghana],"Ackerman said. "We're hoping by the end of the year to have a donation and send it over the summer."

"It's great that they teach people about Ghana, important things that you really wouldn't know," said junior Jen Hawes. "I thought it was a very educational and enjoyable experience."