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February  17, 2010

Nearly 40 students to study in West Africa

Four professors and nearly 40 Augustana students will leave in early March to spend 10 weeks studying in the West African countries of Ghana and Senegal. The two countries, both important regional and continental leaders, were chosen for the global learning experience because of their diverse culture, linguistic and topographical contrasts.

The term begins with six weeks in the country of Ghana, where the group will visit the capital city of Accra, as well as Kumasi and Cape Coast. The final four weeks will be in Dakar and St. Louis in Senegal. Classes will be held four days a week and cover the topics of African history, literature, music and art through reading, assignments, guest lectures and field trips. Students will also volunteer at a school and orphanage, spend a weekend with a host family and visit and attend classes at local universities.  

History professor Dr. Todd Cleveland hopes students will embrace the African culture during the term. "I'd like to think that simple things like taking local transportation, sampling new food at an informal food stall...will ultimately offer more insight into local culture and day-to-day living than will our sensational experiences, such as sleeping out in tents in the desert or swimming in the warm waters off the West African coast," said Cleveland.

Junior biology major Amanda Van Daalen of Waverly, Iowa, agrees the experience is an opportunity for personal change. "I see myself too often taking advantage of things that some people could only dream of. I want to have my eyes open to a new culture and I want to live in a culture where simple things are valued."

Co-director Dr. John Tawiah-Boateng said students have been attending a seminar since fall to prepare for the term away. "I hope as they experience a different lifestyle and culture they will compare realities and stereotypes that they see in movies or television." 

All four professors, Tawiah-Boateng, Cleveland, art professor Dr. Rowen Schussheim-Anderson and music professor Dr. John Pfautz will teach a class during the term. Tawiah-Boateng, a native of Ghana, and Schussheim-Anderson helped initiate the first Ghana international term at Augustana in 2006, and now serve as co-directors of this trip. Cleveland and Pfautz have also previously traveled or researched in Africa. The students and professors will return to the United States in mid-May.

Several of the students will keep a blog of their adventures on Augustana's Globablogs. To read more about their trip, go to www.augustana.edu/blogs/international.

Keri Rursch
Director of Public Relations
(309) 794-7721
kerirursch@augustana.edu