This weekend we had the pleasure of traveling to Accra to take full advantage of the Davidson network. We met Davidson alumna Julianna Lindsey who graduated from Davidson in 1992 with a degree in political science, so naturally as a political science major, I was excited to find out how her journey landed her in Ghana.
Friday morning we made the journey to Accra to meet Julianna at UNICEF where she works and we were given a lecture about children’s rights in Ghana in the context of the Children Rights Convention. Ghana was the first country to ratify the convention but the lecture highlighted both the progress and areas that still need improvement. For instance Ghana has drastically reduced the infant mortality rate but there are still significant discrepancies in education. Although the Ghanaian government spends around 30% of its budget on education, there is still a shortage of trained teachers and equal gender representation in classrooms. One point of the lecture that stirred the group was UNICEF’s campaign on the eradication of corporal punishment. The group posed some very interesting questions about the cultural implications of the practice as well as the approach that UNICEF hoped to take in this hopeful behavioral change.
After our lecture at UNICEF, we met up with another Davidson alumnus, Peter Gross a 2002 graduate, then visited the American embassy. At the embassy, we had the privilege of meeting with the US Ambassador Don Teitelbaum, who just happens to be married to Julianna, and some of his staff. We received a very insightful and informative presentation on Ghanaian and US relations. We explored concepts of business, democracy, and culture. Also, the ambassador gave us the 30-second recruitment ad about becoming a Foreign Services Officer equipped with the 20-page brochure.
The Ambassador and Julianna invited us to their home for lunch and to watch USA play in the FIFA World Cup. Lunch was amazing and everyone is still raving about the mango sorbet that we had for dessert….mmmm mmmm good. It was lots of fun to watch the game with the Ambassador and cheer on Team USA…we all felt very patriotic. In addition to great food and a great game, we had great conversation. After speaking with Julianna at lunch, I walked away feeling more aware and inspired about all of the possibilities for tomorrow. Her journey did not follow a narrow or rigid path she simply followed her interests and was not limited by the unknown. She followed her dreams and her curiosity and I think that it paid off pretty well for her. Lesson learned: Follow your passions and your interests because the sky is the limit and I’m only bound by the limitations I place on myself.
Saturday and Sunday we spent at Busua beach where we had a relaxing time by the water as we reminisced about the past four weeks and how we plan to take full advantage of the rest of our time in GHANA.
Dreaming big and feeling inspired,