Extracurricular activities are a good way of integrating into the University of Ghana community. The University offers extracurricular in various sports such as rugby, soccer, basketball, baseball, netball, swim team and softball. There are also religiously affiliated clubs as well as the drama club, the music club and the debate team.
This Spring 2018, 6 of the CIEE students signed up for the debate. The six students are Clark Burnnet (Yale University), Chelsea Goins (Occidental University), Morghan Robinson (Shaw University), Quinn McGarrigle (Susquehanna University), Yulian Fan (Babson College) and Halimah Ouedraogo (University of Rochester) . They signed up to compete in the Vice Chancellors Debate Championship for 2018.
Halimah is currently the only CIEE left in the competition and has gone all the way to the Semi-finals of the championships. Supported by her Ghanaian counterpart Ezekiel, a Level 300 Psychology student, she plans on making it all the way to the championship prize
Here is what Halimah said inspired her to join the debate team:
“I picked debate because I wanted to be part of a club. When I looked at the sports clubs, it seemed very tough and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be consistent. But when I went to the debate meeting, it was consistent and it seemed very serious especially if they were going to competitions within and outside Accra. Every time I went to a meeting I learned something new so I decided to join the team.
Part of my joining the team was also that I am not always with just CIEE students but actually interacting with Ghanaians. I found that to be interesting because in debate we talk about so many things. So beyond the personal intercultural interactions, you will see the cultural differences through people’s ideologies by the way they perceive things. When we talk about controversial topics, you can sometimes clearly see the division between the CIEE students and the Ghanaian students. But the coach makes it a point for us to stay in that uncomfortable area and make us explain our perspectives to each other to the point where everyone is okay to move on. I liked that even after the meetings you can create genuine friendships because people will talk to each other afterwards.
I am very passionate about development, public health and the relevant statistics and understanding how the health in one country is not a reflection of the health in another and understanding what the differences are in each country. Given that we are in an African country and having a lot of things to talk about when it comes to development comes with some strong topics and I always find a way to bring that in. The classes that I am taking here has actually helped me to be sharper because it is one thing when you learn about development from a first world country and another thing to see development with a critical eye, here.
When we are making friendships in debate, it is not just a surface level type friendship. I understand how the other person thinks and sees the world. For me, that is a deeper connection. It is a safe place to pick friends from. My partner Ezekiel and I became friends one day after debate. We started out talking about our favorite T.V. shows, favorite topics, etc. and from just that conversation, we became inseparable, best friends.
In debate, we have been forced to learn about things that we couldn’t have otherwise even known about. It really challenges us to go beyond the textbooks, the theory and the stereotypes. Through that sharing of knowledge, we are growing." - Halimah Ouedrago, (University of Rochester)
The Semi-finals of the Debate Championship takes place on Tuesday, April 3rd. 2018.