Students focus on fundraising at Ghana Gala

In conjunction with the brothers of Kappa Sigma, the Ghana Project hosted its seventh annual “Ghana Gala” on Saturday Feb. 21 in the College Union Ballroom. TGP’s mission is to donate toward education and health in Ghana and educate the community about Ghanaian culture.

“The Ghana Project works to raise money to fund the Agogo Hospital and a school in Ghana––the Besease School––which was actually built by members of the Ghana Project,” TGP president junior Aoife Forde, said. According to Forde, the school did not exist until a few students who had traveled to Ghana got inspired by the need of infrastructure for education, and decided to start an organization on the Geneseo campus to help raise funds.

“They actually built the school from ground up and continue to fund it. Now, we pay to send supplies over and a combination of things,” Forde said.

With regards to the “Ghana Gala,” Forde explained that the student organization strives to make it memorable for everyone in attendance. “It’s our biggest fundraising event; we try and make it super fun,” she said. It’s a nice cultural immersion so we have dancing, singing and Ghanaian-inspired food.”

This year’s event was nothing short of a spectacle. Tickets were on sale for $5 for students and $8 for faculty and the general public. The menu included delicious Ghanaian specialties such as fried plantains and Jollof rice. The event consisted of several entertaining segments, including an African drumming session by Korye Geneseo, a fashion show exhibiting stylish and colorful African-inspired clothing and a grand finale that featured a mélange of both traditional and modern West African music and dance. Members of Geneseo Gospel Choir also performed, delivering an a cappella performance in front of an awe-filled audience.

“We really just want people to come here and go back knowing more than what they arrived with,” Forde said.

Twenty Kappa Sigma members were primarily in charge of helping with serving food and modeling. “When we were presented with the opportunity of helping out we jumped on immediately; we think it’s a great cause,” junior Kevin Sager said. “This is our first year doing it and I hope we are invited back next year because it really was a great experience.”

Guest speaker and assistant professor of French and Francophone studies and coordinator of the French language program Kodjo Adabra highlighted the importance of avoiding stereotyped generalizations, especially in Africa. “In a world where globalization is one of the most crucial topics in our curriculum, why, for example, do we visit a developing country and we bring back from our trip only images … that show negatives?,” Adabra asked.

Adabra added, “My speech was about the need to avoid the projection of one-sided stories that highlight only negative images [of developing countries] because that provides hindrances to our understanding of the other. It’s what the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called ‘the danger of a single story.’”

Professor of biology and faculty leader of the Ghana: Biology and Global Healthy study abroad program Susan Bandoni Muench also spoke about her experiences in Ghana. “In my study abroad class in Ghana, we study the interrelations between humans and nature and how that’s related to disease,” she said. Aside from the obvious experience of studying abroad, another goal of the program is to provide a deeper understanding of various neglected diseases, especially tropical ones.

“We can simply see our own culture and ways in which we interact with nature and promote disease better in contrast with a back drop of a different culture and environment,” Muench explained. This is applied especially in connection with the funding of the Agogo Hospital.

“By taking students to Ghana, one of the things I hope to do is to cultivate a sense of connection to nature and also to other people,” Muench said. “I view this as a first step in finding solutions to these neglected tropical diseases.”