Curriculum and Instruction

May 2023

Ghana, West Africa

Tennessee Tech students and faculty embarked on a study abroad program to Ghana, West Africa. Led by Department of Curriculum and Instruction faculty members - Cale Koester, a senior lecturer and Associate Professor Queen Ogbomo, students were immersed in myriad opportunities for service learning and cultural studies.

The students spent eight days of our two-week trip in the small village of Outdoor ClassroomKopeyia, in the Volta Region of Ghana, West Africa. Here, they worked with the teaching staff and administration of the Kopeyia Bloomfield Local Authority school. After time spent observing, they then offered direct instruction, interactive lessons, cultural presentations, and reading to students across K-9 grade levels.

Enabled by donations from faculty, staff, and community, our students were able to outfit their library with reference and story books, provide improvements to their instructional teaching lab, and provide repairs to their marching band equipment. The students showed determination, resilience, and enthusiasm throughout this service learning experience and we are proud of how they represented us

Students also participated in cultural studies by taking classes at the Dagbe  Cultural Institute and Arts Center. Here they learned traditional cultural skills as well as the social contexts of which they are a part. Lessons in dance, drumming, singing, kente weaving, and basket making were available to all skill levels and all students participated in lessons of their choice.

Ghana drumming

Our music-focused students worked intensively on learning a specific drum piece that they will bring back to perform at Tennessee Tech. In addition to lessons in art and craft, Dagbe staff provided local tours and excursions to teach our students about life in a rural West African Village.

Through interactions with Dagbe staff and village residents, our students experienced an immersive cultural education in daily life, cuisine, community interactions, local traditions and religions, local markets, and relevant social issues. One historical tour of particular emotional impact was a visit to the remains of a Danish fort in Keta that had been used in the Atlantic slave trade. Here, the students were able to learn about and witness evidence of this harrowing aspect of human history.

In addition to our time in the village, students spent some days in Accra, the capital. Here we visited Black Star Square, the National Museum of Ghana, the Jamestown Lighthouse, the Accra Arts Centre, and the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop.

Ghana, Black Star Square
Black Star Square
L-R: Gwenevera Acebedo, Kylee Hancock, Alex Miller, Natalie Schuch, Cale Koester, Kate McDonald, Tyree Cripps, Reina Coffee, Mara Morgan, Lysset Franco, and Dr. Queen Ogbomo

This opportunity provided a dynamic collection of educational and cultural experiences, and allowed the students to experience in the vibrancy of the capital city.  Students were able to observe firsthand the dramatic difference between urban and rural life in Ghana, as well as drawing connections to their lives in America.

Ultimately, our students proved to be adaptive, resilient, productive, and very Tech in Ghanaenthusiastic. Through their reflections it was apparent how transformative this experience was for them, as well as how insightful they were in making universal connections between diverse cultures and different ways of life. We are grateful for the positive attitude and dedication of our students, and for the support of our departmental and college leadership, our faculty colleagues, our university administration, and our campus community.

The Ghana Group

Cale Koester (faculty lead)
 Dr. Queen Ogbomo (faculty co-lead)
Alexandria Miller (Elementary Education) Kathryn McDonald (Exercise Science)
Kylee Hancock (Secondary Education) Reina Coffee (Secondary Education)
Natalie Schuch (Elementary Education) Robert Eddington (Music Performance)
Mara Morgan (Elementary Education) Gwenevera Acedbedo (Music Education)
Lysset Franco (Elementary Education) Tyree Cripps (Graduate/Curriculum & Instruction)


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