Ghana Gala provides immersive cultural experience

The Ghana Project collaborated with the brothers of Zeta Beta Xi to host the fifth annual Ghana Gala that raised money for education in Besease, Ghana.

Held in the College Union Ballroom on Sunday March 10, the night began with members of the African drumming and dancing group, Korye Dance Theatre, collecting volunteers from the audience and teaching them to play traditional African drum pieces. The participants' upbeat rhythms quickly got the audience engaged and the catchy tempo they created inspired an impromptu dance in the center of the ballroom.

After the demonstration, the Ghana Project executive board served gala attendees a buffet-style dinner of Ghanaian and West African inspired dishes.

“We've found that people don't really know what Ghanaian food is,” Ghana Project President junior Sarah Ackerman said. “There aren't a lot of Ghanaian recipes, it's just how your mom makes it, so we find ideas from people we know and improvise with them.”

This year's menu included jollof rice, “red red,” bean stew, fried plantains, fried chicken and peanut soup.

“[Campus Auxiliary Services] is a lot of fun to work with,” Ackerman said. “Every year, they help us with new and interesting stuff and we really appreciate all of the effort.”

After dinner, the Korye Dance Theatre and members of the Ghana Project came back to the stage to perform a high-energy routine danced to the Korye drummers' enthusiastic rhythms.

Next, members of the Ghana Project eboard, the ZBXi brothers and others put on a fashion show to show off their incredible West African wardrobes and to give the audience a taste of traditional Ghanaian dress.

After a brief intermission for an ice cream sundae dessert, the Ghana Project's adviser, associate professor of geography Jennifer Rogalsky, gave a speech explaining the project's mission to promote global awareness and sponsor education by raising funds to sustain a school in Besease.

Rogalsky explained the project's partnership with the Korye Dance Theatre, and described the organization's work to raise money and collect volunteers to continue construction on the Ghanaian school.

Although the Ghana Project has not been a part of the school-building mission in the past, Rogalsky said that she was excited to announce that they will soon be giving a substantial donation toward building a kindergarten in the school.

The gala concluded with one last dance routine, led by Ghana Project Vice President junior Tatiana Abaya, which involved both traditional and contemporary choreography.

“Seeing everybody perform together and light up on stage is the fun part,” Ackerman said. “[But] the most rewarding part of this will certainly be seeing the donation used to create the kindergarten classroom. If I get to see pictures of that, then this will all really be phenomenal.”