International Studies & Programs

Ghana was truly transformative

Engaging directly with local populations has provided me with insights into culturally appropriate interventions and the importance of community-led initiatives.

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Published: Wednesday, 06 Dec 2023 Author: Spotless Amponsah

Spotless doing a classroom presentationMy journey as part of a public health research student in Ghana has been truly transformative, both academically and personally. The focus of our project centered around water and sanitation, and after spending time in the local town of Larteh, learning about their refuse disposal practices, my group and I decided to conduct a participant observation research in that area. Immersing myself in Ghanaian culture, I had the opportunity to experience the country's vibrant traditions, rich history, and warm hospitality.

My experience abroad broadened my academic horizons by exposing me to a range of complex challenges in the field of public health. Conducting research on barriers to refuse disposal in Larteh allowed me to understand the intricate interplay between cultural, socioeconomic, and environmental factors that shape public health outcomes. This firsthand experience deepened my passion for addressing global health disparities and inspired me to delve deeper into the role of international public health professionals. Collaborating with local researchers and experts in Ghana expanded my professional network and provided valuable insights and perspectives that will undoubtedly shape my future endeavors.

On a personal level, my time in Ghana was an incredible journey Spotless knelling down by a streamof self-discovery and personal growth. Immersing myself in the community challenged preconceived notions and expanded my worldview. The warmth and kindness shown by the Ghanaian people left an indelible mark on my heart. Interacting with community members in Larteh allowed me to witness their resilience, resourcefulness, and communal spirit in the face of adversity. These experiences fostered personal growth, empathy, and a deep appreciation for the diversity of human experiences.

Living and working in a community where English was not the predominant language provided a unique opportunity for me to enhance my ability to communicate across language barriers. While English is widely spoken in Ghana, I made a concerted effort to practice my Twi, the local language, which greatly facilitated my interactions with community members. Spotless with local childrenThis experience not only improved my language skills but also enhanced my cross-cultural communication abilities, enabling me to connect with  individuals from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Such skills are invaluable in our increasingly interconnected world.

I gain profound insights into the values, traditions, and social dynamics that shape Ghanaian society. I learned about the importance of communal harmony, the strength of extended family networks, and the significance of oral traditions in preserving cultural heritage. Ghanaian culture emphasizes respect, hospitality, and a sense of interconnectedness, which deeply impacted my own values and worldview. Witnessing the creativity and resourcefulness of the Ghanaian people in addressing community challenges instilled in me a lasting sense of resilience and determination.

As a minority student from an under-represented racial group, I recognize the significance of diverse voices and perspectives in the field of public health. My experience in Ghana has allowed me to bring a unique perspective to the table, addressing health disparities and systemic challenges faced by marginalized communities. Engaging directly with local populations has provided me with insights into culturally appropriate interventions and the importance of community-led initiatives.

In conclusion, my experience in Ghana as part of a public health research student has been an unforgettable and transformative journey. I have grown as an individual, expanding my worldview and developing cross-cultural communication skills. By sharing my story, I hope to inspire others to embrace the transformative power of education abroad, challenge myths surrounding such experiences and promote diversity and inclusion in global endeavors. I hope to inspire and empower others from similar backgrounds to pursue their passions and contribute meaningfully to global health efforts.

Name: Spotless Amponsah
Status: Graduate student
Major: Public Health
Hometown: Livonia, Michigan
Program: Public Health in Ghana: A One Health Perspective