Siobhan Atkins and Anita Kaneza, BGInS

BGInS students Siobhan Atkins and Anita Kaneza stand outside the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana on May 17, 2023.

It was an experience of a lifetime for 12 Carleton University students enrolled in the Institute of African Studies annual Study Abroad course, cross-listed this year with the music program’s experiential learning course, Urban and Rural Music in Community. The students say the 18-day adventure in Ghana has changed their worldview and they will never forget the experience.

Two students in the Bachelor of Global and International Studies (BGInS), Siobhan Atkins and Anita Kaneza, were able to use the course to complete the international experience requirement (IER) for their degree.

“Getting the opportunity to visit Ghana for my IER was amazing,” says Atkins. “Taking the course taught abroad and learning about the culture while embracing it was an incredible experience. We ate delicious Ghanaian food made from both restaurants and home-cooked meals, saw beautiful landscapes, learned different traditions based on Ghanaian culture and music and were given the opportunity to further understand their culture and participate in it.”

Anita Kaneza at the University of Ghana in Accra.

Anita Kaneza at the University of Ghana in Accra.

The students began their adventure in Legon, Accra at the University of Ghana where they had courses in Ewe language, the history of Highlife music and attended live music concerts. The group then travelled to the Ewe village of Dagbamete in the Volta Region for five days, played in a drum ensemble for a traditional ceremony, visited a voodoo shrine and were immersed in the local culture.

“My dream has always been to travel,” says Kaneza. “I’ve wanted to see the world I live in as far back as I can remember. The development of several African nations has grown at the fastest rate in the world. I grew up in Africa. I wanted to see the continent again with new eyes and from a different point of view than I already knew. I encountered a variety of cultures.”

Siobhan Atkins at the University of Ghana in Accra.

Siobhan Atkins at the University of Ghana in Accra.

Kaneza says, “We saw how shared traditions like food, music, and religion unite people while keeping their shared identities alive and passing them on to the next generation. Ghana altered my perception of Africa as a continent. I realized that people from different parts of the country have distinct cultures and traditional beliefs they still uphold today.”

“I’m very grateful for this class to have been an option for my BGInS IER,” says Atkins. “Thank you to our Carleton music course instructor Kathy Armstrong, faculty, my fellow classmates, and the amazing people in Ghana that made our trip an incredible learning and life experience.” 

The BGInS program focuses on international issues and perspectives that give students an advantage in the global job market. There are 18 specializations to choose from, and a second-language and an international experience requirement. Students graduate not only with new knowledge and skills, but also a transformed worldview.

Study Abroad students cross over the Volta Region in Ghana.