The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Seven — Ghana, Semester at Sea, by John Cutshall
The crazy thing about Semester at Sea is that you experience so many different cultures, languages, and customs in such a short period of time. After having spent a week in Morocco I was still feeling the high of the experience. However, I only had 5 days to come down and get ready for another amazing experience in the heart of Africa.
The first day that we arrived in Ghana I went with my history professor to the slave castles that we had learned about in class. The bus pulled up to the castle and immediately we were swarmed by about 50 locals. A boy around 16 came up to me and spoke to me in English telling me that he was in school and was looking for extra money. I looked into his eyes and saw his desire to do well and accomplish all that he could, so I gave him a few dollars. From there we proceeded into the slave castle. There were many slave castles built along the coast of Ghana and they would host the slaves before they were shipped over to the Americas. The feeling walking into the castle was very peculiar. On the one hand, it was an amazing structure, but on the other you could feel that there were unspeakable horrors that occurred at this place. We toured around the castle and we got to one of the cells. Our tour guide packed about 30 of us in a cell and I felt extremely claustrophobic. He then went on to tell us that they would put double the amount of people in the cell. It was hard for me to believe what he was saying. The slave castles showed me the horrors that humanity has put itself through. It was an unforgettable experience and I am glad to have had it. After that, the rest of the trip dealt with the amazing wilderness that Ghana had to offer.
For the next three days I went on a trip that took us into the heart of Ghana’s jungle. The first stop on this trip was Afadjato Mountain. We climbed for about an hour on a grueling dirt path that winded up the side of the mountain. After copious amounts of sweat were shed we reached the top. The view is one that is eternally burned into my memory. For as far as you could see was lush, green jungle. Far off in the distance was the Wli Waterfall. It was about 200 feet tall and looked so small, but we were headed there next. When we got to the waterfall it towered over us. We were also greeted by hundreds of bats flying over us. We also swam under the waterfall and it was unreal feeling the force of that water. The following day we went to the Mona Monkey village. It is deep in the jungle and monkeys will actually come up to you and eat out of your hand. We weren’t supposed to feed them, but I thought that it was worth the risk! On the way back to the bus we actually got the opportunity to interact with local children at school. This was one of the highlights of my entire Semester At Sea Experience. We rolled tires, I showed them my camera, and we had a great time. It was the perfect way to end the trip in Ghana. After that we returned to the boat.
I will never forget the faces of the people I met in Ghana. Most of them had next to nothing, and yet were smiling the entire time. The kindness and warmth that Ghana offered is something truly unique and I would love to go back and visit. Our next port took us to Cape Town, South Africa. There I went abseiling, bungee jumping, great white shark diving, and on a safari. I can’t wait to share my experience there!
Youtube video of Ghana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-w1nJ8uh14
Picture 1: Cannons at the slave castle
Picture 2: Wli Waterfall
Picture 3: View from the top of the mountain
Picture 4: Feeding Monkeys at the Mona Monkey Village
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10
The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.
Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.
Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year
(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.