THE TRIP TO GHANA WAS THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE by the Association of the Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors.
Gail McCabe, a 2000 University of St. Francis BSW graduate and a 2001 MSW graduate of the University of Illinois, and Florida
Freeman, Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of St. Francis College of Nursing, accompanied me to Accra, Ghana.
We left for New York on Friday, July 6th . Gail, "Flo" and I stayed at the Mariott Marquis in Times Square.
Excited about our trip on Saturday to Ghana, we had a great "American meal" (burgers, fries, salads, etc.) and watched
the people. The next day we met our group at LaGuardia International Airport. We were introduced to other BSW social work
directors from around the United States, their families and friends, by Esther Langston, Dean of Social Work at the University
of Nevada-Las Vegas, who served as our trip coordinator.
Our trip to Ghana was both educational and cultural.
It was arranged by a Ghanaian tour agency that provided for each aspect of our thirteen (13) days, with Esther from the Association
of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors. The excitement of planning for the trip was nothing compared to actually
setting foot on the land of one's ancestors! We were welcomed by young, energetic Ghanaians, who made sure we were safe,
had good food, and felt welcomed.
"Yow" our guide, and "Boats", our bus driver, were the young
Ghanaian men, representing the tourist agency. They were very warm, welcoming and professional and arranged visits with the
social service agency representatives that the BPD had requested to see. "Yow" and "Boats" tried to teach
us their language and shared the music of their region throughout our stay. They made sure we made our appointments each
day and that we knew specifics of the regions we visited.
Ghana is located in West Africa, near the Equator, and
is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. It is a beautiful area. The red clay dirt and rich vegetation of Ghana reminds me of
the southern part of the United States; there were hot days, cool evenings and large mosquitoes.
We bonded as a
group after the third day. Our schedule allowed us to talk and visit many of the coastal areas, from Accra to Cape Coast
to Kamasi and share our thoughts. The Atlantic Ocean was visible throughout our travel.
We would begin each
day with breakfast, no matter where we were, by boarding our bus, "The Apostle", around 7:45 a.m. and not return
to our rooms until early evening. We would visit two (2) or more agencies each day. Planned Parenthood, The Rehabilitation
Center, and the hospital in Accra were examples.
The social workers described their program, populations being
served, and their future goals and objectives. They were all given funds and office supplies from the BPD to help them in
Our First International BPD Conference/Workshop was held on Tuesday, July 10th. I was honored to
present the pilot study from my dissertation. Accra community representatives and students from the University of Ghana-Legon
were in attendance. The pilot study, "How Discrimination Effects the Role of Fatherhood for African-American Men"
was well received. The three (3) breakout groups after our panel discussion included Ghanaian social workers from various
agencies and students from the University of Ghana-Legon. The topic of my group's responsibility was "relationships".
The discussion and exchange during this group emphasized the global concerns with gender roles. We had discussed the division
of labor vs. discrimination, economic restraints vs. individual choice, multimedia perspective vs. universal patriarchal systems,
and parental responsibilities vs. society's fixed images. Recommendations were made which included universal political alliances,
grassroot organizations, education agendas (role expectations from grade school and up), consciousness-raising groups on gender
issues, the cross-cultural implications in social work practice and policy courses, as well as continued discussion of universal
concepts regarding role/gender expectations.
These children were given clothes, school supplies and funds to help
their administrators and teachers provide better programs. The children are being taught English, along with their native
language, and speak English very well.
We were given tours of some of the major industries, woodwork, village of
Kinte Cloth, beautiful clothes and graphic arts. Homes of the Ashanti Kings and their museum were also interesting to visit.
Our meeting at the University of Ghana-Legon was much anticipated. Each BPD director brought books, journals, and
supplies for the social work program. We met with them, and discussed their future goals, students expenses and current status
of enrollment. It was interesting to hear that they accept a set number of students per year, but many cannot attend classes,
because of a lack of finances. A student needs $500.00 a year to attend classes.