Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

6 posts categorized "Travel"



Kaylee Haskell, a Junior at University of Tampa, is studying this Fall '17 semester on the CIEE Ghana Arts and Science program. She is also an Alum of the CIEE Global Navigator High School Study Abroad program in Ghana in 2013.

Small towns produce two kinds of people- those who sit comfortably in their familiar, safe environments and those who crave to find what’s beyond, following their curiosity and need for something new and different. I will always be grateful for growing up in Vermont, but it was definitely beneficial and necessary to explore new, different cultures.

When I decided to go to Ghana in 2013, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was finishing my junior year in high school and I had never left my mother, aside from 3-day field hockey camp, but I felt like I needed a change of scenery. 

Kaylee (2nd from left) with some of the High School students and Programme Leaders

CIEE made the planning and traveling process as easy as possible for my family and I. The Leadership Academy prepared me more for what was to come in my life than anything in my prior 17 years. I had little knowledge about Ghana before I stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac, but I could tell instantly that this place would have an impact on me.

I was very homesick for the first week that I was in Accra. I had convinced myself before I left that I would be fine and not miss home, but it seems somewhat inevitable when you’ve never left home before, and now you’re 5,000 miles away. However, the homesickness didn’t prevail and I quickly settled into this new culture and let it open my eyes to people, places and things unknown.

 Our small group of 6 high schoolers spent our weekdays volunteering at Future Leaders UCC, and then returning back to the University of Ghana campus to take Twi language classes and group leadership lessons. On weekends we would participate in excursions and escape the city life of Accra to more rural places that took us deeper into the roots of the culture.

My four weeks in Ghana felt more like a taste of the culture than an actual immersion. The days flew by and when it was time to leave, I wanted more. Despite taking language classes, I could only comfortably say '3te s3n', '3y3' and 'medaase', which was sufficient for the 30 days I was there, but I found myself wanting more, and I knew I would eventually return.

At the Cape Coast Castle

 My experience in Ghana shifted my college and career path. I chose to move from Vermont to Florida to be around more, diverse people. I also started my college career as a journalism major, but quickly added an international and cultural studies major to that to allow myself to dive into different people, where they come from and the roots of their cultures.

I decided that I would return to Ghana for the fall semester in 2017. Because CIEE has helped me so greatly before, I didn’t look to any other program because I knew they would ensure that I had the greatest abroad experience.

I arrived on the Legon campus on August 10th, and have now been here for 36 days, a little over the time that I spent here before, and it has flown by. My experience from the Leadership Academy prepared me greatly for the semester ahead. I feel as though I am more comfortable with intercultural communications and am more accustomed to the everyday norms that differ from those in the US. I have been able to make friends with locals, travel comfortably outside of the capital, confidently board and trotro and make connections throughout the country that I never could have done otherwise.

I decided to focus my studies for this semester on gender and culture within Ghana and the issues that surround it. I am enrolled in 5 classes, including another Twi language course, I’m determined to carry a conversation, an intercultural communication course and 3 classes surrounding issues within gender roles, religion and Ghanaian culture. Even with some prior knowledge, it is interesting to indulge in conversations with locals and see what norms are still prevalent in everyday life today.   

The most interesting lesson that has been the topic of discussion in more than one of my classes is the role of women in Ghanaian society and how it is calculated, or not calculated, into the Gross Domestic Product of the country. The GDP is measured in the public space, which doesn’t account for any services that are provided in the private space. This leads to a high rate of unemployment within the female population of Ghana, because a majority of the country promotes strict gender roles, keeping the women’s work in the household. These women are considered “not working” while they are the first to rise, maintain the household, prepare her husband for work, her children for school, clean while they are all gone, run errands, cook and clean when everyone returns home, wash and maintain the house while they are asleep and repeat these steps every day. Women’s roles in Ghanaian culture are crucial to the function of the society, but never measured on the big scale. 

Kaylee learning how to Tie Dye

This has stood out to me the most so far, but we are only 5 weeks in. I am forever grateful for the opportunities CIEE and Ghana have provided me with and am looking forward to the next 3 months in this vibrant, evolving country.

Kaylee with some of her local Ghanaian and CIEE friends




“Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.”
Douglas Pagels


Some of the students being picked up at the Kotoka International Airport

The Fall 2016 students started their journey on a blank page not knowing what to expect when they first arrived in Ghana on August 15th. In their first week, they have explored some of the cultural nuances that make up the country Ghana.

On Tuesday, August 16th, the Fall 2016 students joined other International Students for the Univeristy  of Ghana Office International Programmes orientation (IPO). The orientation introduced the students to the university and the activities that are available for international students students.

The IPO orientation was followed by a 3-day CIEE orientation which covered topics such as academics, safety and security, health issues, sexual harassment protocols, a Bystander Intervention Training, perceptions and stereotypes and a Ghanaian music and dance workshop.


Bystander Intervention Training at the CIEE Study Center, International House

The week long of orientation was capped with a tour of the city of Accra which ended up at Chale Wote Art Festival in Jamestown, one of the oldest districts of the capital which dates back to the 17th Century Gold Coast.

"Chale Wote" provides the platform for music, arts and dance performances on the streets. These perfromances include spoken word, graffiti murals, live street music jams, fashion, and many more.

After the festival, there was an "Akwaaba Dinner" to officially welcome the Fall 2016 students to the programme and to the country.


Madison Griffith (Tulane University of Lousiana) at the Chale Wote Festival


Some dsiplays at the Chale Wote Festival.

Classes started on  August 22nd and the students are having a taste of how academic life is going to be for the next few months. The Twi Lanugage class also begun today.


There are so many activities planned in the horizon and as the semester continues, we will update you on the happenings.





Ghana has a dynamic and diverse culture. For a deeper meaning to understanding the way of life of the people of Ghana, the Fall 2013 Participants, on the November 1st, 2013, spent the weekend in a rural homestay in  Bonwire, a village embodied in the tradition and culture that defines Ghana. During the stay with the families, the students participated in many activities of the rural folks which included attending traditional church service, funerals, going to the farm, cooking, helping out in a school, kente weaving, etc. Here are a few stories from some of the Fall 2013 students describing their experiences.


By Alexandra Bailey,Emory University

Alexandra Bailey, Emory University, carrying a basket of cassava 

When I asked Mabena if we could see the farm, this was definitely not what I expected, I thought, as we forged a path through the forest. Lush, green flora surrounded Sophie, Natalie and I as Mabena, our host sister for our weekend in Bonwire, hacked a pathway for us with her cutlass. Her nine-year-old cousin, Janet, carried a woven basket on her head in anticipation of the cassava that would be harvested.


After about a half hour, we all arrived at the family’s piece of land. Mabena began harvesting the cassava, which involves uprooting the stalk of the cassava plant and then using a cutlass to dig in the ground beneath the stalk to find the cassava.

Sophie, Natalie and I watched, feeling helpless, as Mabena pulled, dug, and yanked cassava after cassava out of the fertile dirt. We wanted to help but all we could really do was to gather the cassava into the basket after Mabena harvested it. We asked Mabena if her family planted the cassava, and she said yes and explained that they would plant it elsewhere next year. The family had also sold all of the plantain plants to another farm. Natalie, Sophie and I examined the plants and insects around us and talked with Janet, who was helping Mabena intermittently. 

After Mabena finished, she split the cassava between two baskets because one basket alone would be too heavy. Sophie, Natalie and I took turns trying our hands at using the cutlass; we basically just chopped at plants while Mabena opened a sachet of water to clean her hands and face. She used the cutlass to scrape the mud off of her flip-flops and then Mabena and Janet hoisted the two baskets of cassava onto their heads and we began our journey out of the forest.  

P1090392  P1090413


When we reached the dirt road, Natalie, Sophie and I all took turns carrying the smaller basket of cassava on top of our heads. Ghanaians carry goods on their heads frequently and I have wanted to try for a while. Now that I have, I am even more amazed than I was before; I will never understand how Ghanaians carry such heavy goods on their heads for extended periods of time and successfully balance this weight without the use of their hands. It is truly astounding. Mabena, Janet, Sophie, Natalie and I returned home with the cassava and began preparations to make fufu, a dish created by pounding cassava and plantains. And so our weekend at Bonwire continued.

Sophie Siebach, Georgetown University, peeling plantains

Natalie Dosch, University of Wisconson- Madison, using a traditional earthern grinding bowl



By Amanda Eden Freishtat, Loyola University, Maryland

Last semester I took a class at my home university called World Christianity. It centered around the concept of inculturation, the adaptation of the way Church teachings are presented to non-Christian cultures and the influence of those cultures on the evolution of these teachings. We studied Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, which were heavily influenced by colonial evangelism. Today the inculturation movement seeks to remove an imposed Western culture in which the Gospel was packaged and to develop an authentic cultural expression of Christianity that is relevant to each particular context and population. In the course, I even read Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflections on Christianity in Africa, a book written by Mercy Oduyoye, a Ghanaian theologian. I had no idea that six months later I would observe and be immersed in the embodiment of what I studied.


Eden Freishtat, receiving dance lessons from her host sister

Saturday, November 2nd, in Bonwire Village, I had the privilege to witness inculturation. In the evening, my host family had shown me a video from their annual national church meeting with all of the different church plants meeting at the national headquarters. Because of this and the bit of dance lessons I received after watching the video, I had seen and taken part in some of their tradition, but a video could not capture what I was about to experience, just as this article cannot portray the beauty I encountered and the joy that filled my soul.

Around eight o’clock beautiful overlaying of voices singing in Twi, praising God for His goodness, flowed over the walls of the homes. I asked Juliet, one of my sisters at my home-stay, what was happening. She explained that it was part of their religious duties. Around nine o’clock a group of the neighborhood children accompanied me over to the service and before I knew it I was thrown in the middle of it all. Women were in kaba and slit, with sparkling, beaded head coverings. Some carried babies, sleeping despite the noise and commotion.

One of my host sisters, Esther, took me under her wing and told me what to do. At one point the Pastor wanted me to dance, so they prayed for me, that I would have the ability to dance well, and then began singing in English, “Everybody sing hallelujah, everybody sing hallelujah, praise be to the God Most High”. I sang along as Esther, Juliet and I danced in front of everyone.The dancing, singing, and praising continued. By the end of the two to three hour event, I was genuinely praising and thanking God for bringing me to their church community, village, and home.

Eden 2

 Left: Eden, with their host sibling and Jesse Headman, Loyola University.



 By Sophie Siebach, Georgetown University

In the past few months that I have been in Ghana, my most memorable experiences have always involved children. My weekend in Bonwire was no different. As our group of nine girls walked down the red dirt road towards the school, families going about their day shouted welcomes and salutations. Small children stopped their playing to smile and wave, and three young boys inquired about our names, ages, where we were from and expressed amazement at our limited knowledge of Twi. As we approached the school we could hear the faraway murmur of school children.


Sophie Siebach and other CIEE Students playing with the kids

 The school consisted of long cement buildings divided into rooms with open windows. In each classroom there was a blackboard and desks, waiting for an eager child to fill its space. We were told that the original plan was for us to meet with fifteen to twenty children who were apart of a program for slow learners. The slow learner program is designed to give extra help to those children who need help with English, Writing and Reading. However, news travels fast, especially with children, and a large group of children had assembled to meet the group of Americans who came to visit. As we entered the classroom forty smiling faces of all ages greeted us. We quickly met the headmaster and teacher and then went to the real reason we were there- we played. We all went into the courtyard, formed a big circle, and taught them the Hokey Pokey. Members of the community started gathering around us watching the young children and older Americans shaking their arms, legs, hands, and head and singing at the top their lungs. After teaching them the Hokey Pokey  it was their turn to teach us a game- Ampe. The children crouched on their legs while a chorus of  young voices began to sing a song. Ampe closely resembles ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ and so we quickly caught on. The next game we taught them was ‘Red Light, Green Light’.  The joy and laughter that filled the air was contagious. Sadly, a roll of thunder cut our games short and we said our farewells. The small hands waving goodbye from the classroom window was our parting gift and an experience I will never forget.


 Kwasi Gyasi-Gyamerah, Resident Director

CIEE Study Centers in Ghana, Internationa House University of Ghana








Extracurricular Activities at CIEE Legon Study Center

A good number of our students are actively engaged in the social and cultural life of the country and also on the University of Ghana campus and we would like to share some amazing stories with you.  

"The 2nd Coming of Kwame Nkrumah"

Alex Bailey (as "Queen Elizabeth") Ben Walter (as "Sir Arden Clarke") with some cast members;   Ekow Smith-Asante (as "Kwame Nkrumah"),and Fathia Nkrumah ("Ghana’s former first lady"). 

This weekend, the nation Ghana celebrated Founder’s Day which marks the 104th birthday of the Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the person who led the Independence struggle and won Independence for Ghana which used to be Gold Coast under British colonial rule. As part of the Founder’s Day celebration, a theater performance titled “The 2nd Coming of Nkrumah” was staged at Ghana’s National Theater in downtown Accra.  Acting alongside one of Ghana’s versatile actors in the person of Ecow Smith Asante who played the role of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, 2 CIEE Fall 2013 participants played very significant roles in this theatre performance that held Accra spell-bound.  Ben Walter from Clark University played Sir Charles Arden Clarke and Alexandra Bailey from Emory University played Queen Elizabeth.  The play took the audience through the history of Ghana’s past presidents and a return of Nkrumah to present-day Ghana and the possible sentiments he would have shared if he were still alive. 

P1080427   IMG_1372

Our students had a really fulfilling experience and met a number of important personalities in the Ghanaian entertainment industry from the time they started auditioning for their roles till the actual performance days themselves.


Permit me to offer huge congratulations to one of CIEE’s amazing U-Pals in the person of Atsu (pronounced “Achuu”) for introducing our students to the writer of the play and his team and ensuring that the 2 CIEE get the opportunity to be a part of the performance.  THANK YOU ATSU!!




The entire cast of “The 2nd Coming of Nkrumah”



Also, 6 other CIEE students have participated in a movie yet to be premiered in cinemas on December 2013. We will share this amazing story with you when the movie is premiered.  You will get to know about the talents your students are exhibiting which you may not have been aware of until they studied through CIEE in Legon, Ghana.


Continue to watch this space.










Dear Colleagues and Friends,

We were at the stadium!! Yes and Ghana won!! We beat Zambia in a Brazil 2014 World Cup Qualifying match in Kumasi by 2:1!!!!!!  This was a very charged and electrifying atmosphere and CIEE got game tickets for all our students, UPals and staff to watch this game.



Our trip to Kumasi coincided with the Ghana-Zambia World Cup Qualifier for Brazil 2014 and the CIEE Ghana Fall 2013 students and staff were there to see the action. The students adorned themselves in the Ghana Black Star jerseys with flags and vuvuzelas and cheered on the Ghana national Team



Viviane Cahen (Tulane University) cheering on the Black Stars of Ghana


From Left: Jesse Headman (Loyola University, Maryland), Vivianne Cahen (Tulane University) and Michaela Lovejoy (Tulane University)

Lauren Parmley (Tulane University) and Gideon Kodo (CIEE U-Pal) cheering with their vuvuzelas


 It has been a while since we last communicated through this medium.  Teaching at the University of Ghana has been going on since September 4 and all our students are now actively engaged academically.  It is important to note that CIEE at Legon has kept all our participants very busy during the no teaching strike period by organising and arranging educational and culturally enriching field trips, evening events, and talks and discussions which our students have truly appreciated.



“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive” – Mahatma Ghandi


To help the Fall 2013 Participants to understand some diversity in the Ghanaian society, the Study Center organized a cultural project on bead making and basket weaving.


Variety of Beads

Beads have a major significance in most of Ghana’s ethnic cultures, but are most used extensively by the Akan and the Ga ethnic groups. It is used by both males and females and they have various uses.  They serve as symbols for rite of passage, symbols of power or rank, serves jewellery for adornment .





Saba Davis (Bucknell Univeristy), designing beads and also wearing some as a bracelets.

A finished bead bracelet





Beatrice Baako, the founder of Kisseman Children’s foundation and Basket for Education gave weaving lessons to the Fall participants. The handcrafted basket made by Beatrice and her apprentices provide funding for the Kisseman children’s foundation, a not for profit NGO that provide academic scholarships, stationery and instructional lessons to the children in Kisseman, a suburb of Accra.


Beatrice with Eden Freishtat (Loyola University-Maryland) and Natalie Dosch (University of Wisconson-Madison)

Madison Carruso (Fordham University) weaving her basket

Alexandra Ransom ( University of Missouri-Columbia) and Sophie Siebach (Georgetown University).



On September 7th, the entourage of staff and students moved the Bonwire Community in the region. Bonwire is the home of kente weaving. The Akan kente textile is characterized by its dazzling shades of colours and their philosophical names the meanings behind them. These names were derived from historical events, important dates, proverbs and important names and personalities such as kings and queens of the Ashanti Kingdom, Presidents and First Ladies.


An array of kente clothes

A kente loom

The Fall Students were taken through the history of Kente weaving and the names and meanings. They also got to try their hands at the traditional loom.


Victoria Chaltain (University of Wisconsin- Madison) working the kente loom


Adinkra Stamps

Adinkra symbols are evocative symbols used on traditional cloth worn at festivals, funerals, and other traditional occasions. The Fall students were taken through the process of Adinkra; they learnt how to obtain the dye from the bark of the tree which is used in the stamping and also took part in the process by stamping the clothes.



Carmen Attikossie (Saint Catherine University) and Kevonte Anderson (Bowdoin College) pounding the bark for the extraction of the adinkra dye

Regin wu (American University) stamping the kente strip with the adinkra dye

Kyle Falvey ( Tulane University) and Laurie Cale (DePauw University) dawning a traditional adinkra cloth in the Ghanaian way.



We will keep you posted as events unfold onsite!!!



The Ghana Experience


We wanted to Share Brady Blackburn's (CIEE Ghana Fall '12) Peom with you in case you haven't seen the video.  You can check out the video here: 


"Let’s take a moment, make like the Sankofa bird, and look back at where we’ve come from.

What did we expect to find in Ghana?

Did we intend to see elephants?

Or to sing “The Circle of Life” as the sun set longingly behind baobab trees?

We didn’t intend to fall for Norwegians, or to get blood infections, or to get on the University of Ghana football team.

Could we have been prepared, in our self-proclaimed agape minds

To be treated as walking ATMs and paragons at the same time?

Who would’ve thought that we would comfortably sweat our bodies dry

To the soulful sounds of “Cra-Cra-Cra!” and “YeeeeESSPEUUUWaaataa!”

Somewhere along the way our left hands became like vestiges of our former selves,

We started looking for shito on store shelves,

And we learned Osu better than taxi drivers.

We know what we prefer out of Star, Club, and Castle,

We know when a tro-tro’s too much of a hassle,

And somehow we know the difference between fufu, banku, and kenkey.

We know these things from experience:

FanIce is like a drug; Kevin gives great hugs;

Nkrumah was a boss; bathrooms have a cost;

Love is cheap, but jollof is cheaper;

A spot is a bar; Bolgatanga is far;

Ananse’s a trickster; Frutelli’s a mixer;

You can use “mepaakyεw” for everything;

The flag goes red, yellow, green;

And the Anopheles mosquito can go @#$% itself.


We came with our expectations like classmates on a fieldtrip six thousand miles away from home,

But we would soon come to find out this isn’t Rome,

Or Boston, or Baltimore, or any place with which we were hitherto familiar.

This is a place where gods possess more people than demons;

It’s a place where six year-olds play with machetes,

Where insects and opportunists suck blood in equal quantities,

And where the Black Star is seen rising over a village without power.

Ghana is a place where the Atumpan pounds out our heartbeats,

Where we beat the dust with our dancing feet.

The earth, the color of rust

From twenty-four million broken shackles

Ringing Freedom and Justice.

Do you know what this dust is?

Just a legacy of ancestral blood rising up to meet us.


 Ghana is not a place set away from Reality;

It’s just a reality that we never knew.

It’s a place that seizes your perceptions by the throat and declares them untrue.

It’s a country that knocks you on your ass for understanding to ensue:

That you’ll never “save Africa”

As much as Africa saves you."


-         Brady Blackburn, Regis University

        CIEE Ghana Fall ‘12