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University of Missouri

Service and Study in Ghana

A four-week volunteer program immerses MU students in Ghanaian culture.

group of students posing

Fifteen MU students traveled to Ghana this past summer to work in a public health or educational service program. Photo courtesy of Anne Case-Halferty.

Fifteen University of Missouri students paired service with study this past summer when they participated in an international service project in Cape Coast, Ghana.

The service project, sponsored by the Office of Service Learning and the MU International Center, allows students to work in a public health or educational service program.

The students don’t just volunteer; they immerse themselves in Ghana’s culture, says Anne Case-Halferty, the program’s coordinator.

The people of Ghana are unlike any other culture in the world, and students are able to experience Ghanaian culture firsthand while becoming valuable members of the community through their service,” says Case-Halferty, who traveled with the students. MU has been sending volunteers to Ghana since 2010.

Kara White is one of the students who made the journey. A junior majoring in secondary education and mathematics, White, of St. Louis, worked with a youth wheelchair-basketball team.

Mercedes Printz, of Mexico, Mo., a sophomore secondary education major, worked with the Health and Life Protection education program, which educates Ghana’s students on health issues such as proper hand-washing techniques, the importance of hydration and how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

It was definitely a life changing experience,” Printz says. “It was a great opportunity. I wish I could go back.”

To prepare for the four-week service project, students enrolled in a three-hour course that introduced them to Ghana’s history, politics, culture and geography. Students even learned how to speak phrases in Fante, one of the country’s native languages.

During their trip, the students ventured out to Accra, the capital of Ghana, and Kakum National Park, which is famous for its lush, sprawling rain forests.

Although the challenges students face in a developing country can be daunting, the rewards from serving those in need make the project meaningful.

They may not be literally saving a life every day,” Case-Halferty says, “but they are taking part in the long-term growth and change in Ghana.”