Eastern Michigan University is now offering a summer study abroad program that will take place in Ghana, West Africa.
The program is called "EMU Returning Home: Race, Identity and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade," and will be led by Caralee Jones-Obeng, an assistant professor of Africology and African American Studies at the University.
The trip will consist of traveling to three cities in Ghana: Accra, Cape Coast, and Kumasi.
While in these cities, students will explore ideas and concepts surrounding Ghana's relation to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, such as how it happened, how it led to tourism, and the resulting financial impact. Students will also have the opportunity to learn more about Ghanaian culture and traditions, including Twi, which is the indigenous language of Ghana.
"I ultimately want them to come away with a more realistic understanding of life in particularly Ghana and help to demystify a lot of the stereotypes and misconceptions of people who live in Africa, more specifically Ghana," Jones-Obeng said.
Students on the trip will visit historical sites that pertain to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. They will visit slave castles where enslaved Africans were kept before being placed on ships, and they will also visit a river that was used to wash enslaved Africans before being taken to the slave castles.
Students will visit the W.E.B. DuBois Centre in Accra, the University of Ghana, and the University of Cape Coast. At the University of Cape Coast, a speaker will inform students about additional history behind the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and its role in Cape Coast.
This is the first Eastern study abroad program offered in 10 years that takes place in Africa, with the last trip being to South Africa. This is also the University's first time offering a study abroad program in Ghana.
Jones-Obeng was inspired to lead this study abroad due to her past trips to the country. She has been to Ghana two times prior, her last being during her junior year of undergrad. That trip lasted four months, where she took courses at the University of Ghana.
While reflecting on her past experiences in the country, she notes that how she viewed her race was challenged. She experienced being labeled as an American by individuals, when she originally expected her understanding of race and of being Black to be mirrored in the country. This caused her to further learn about and understand the concepts of ethnicity and nationality.
"I always knew that if given the opportunity I also wanted to give that experience to other students... going to the continent and having that experience is really, I think, life changing, and it really makes you question a lot of the ways we see race here, the ways we see ethnicity, so it really challenges this kind of black and white way in which we understand things in the U.S.," Jones-Obeng said.
The trip is expected to last nearly two weeks. Although the exact dates are not yet finalized, a leave date of around May 29 and a return date of around June 10 are being considered.
The program costs roughly $6,500, which includes the cost of flights, tuition, accommodations, and food. Financial assistance will be available to apply for following acceptance into the program. A list of scholarships can be found on the University's Study Abroad and U.S. Study Programs website.
The application deadline is Feb. 15. Applicants are expected to learn of their acceptance status within the following two weeks.