Seven WUSTL staff members chosen for trip to Ghana

A few months ago, Jennifer Gartley had no idea she’d be embarking on a trip to Africa this summer.

But then she found out that Washington University in St. Louis’ Global Diversity Overseas Seminar Program (GDOS) was accepting applications for a study-abroad trip to Ghana in June.

“I first heard about this program when Bill Larson, my colleague from Edison Theatre, participated last year in the trip to Chile,” said Gartley, manager of public outreach and applied music programs for the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

“This year, when I found out they were going to Africa, I knew I wanted to apply,” she said. “Africa is such a dynamic and exciting place. Having the opportunity to dig in and learn about Ghana and the culture before departing and then to see it in action is really attractive to me.”

Gartley is one of seven WUSTL staff members chosen to travel to Ghana this summer as part of the program. The remaining members are:

  • Harvey Fields, PhD, assistant director for academic
    programs at Cornerstone and PI/director of the TRiO Student Support
    Services grant
  • Robin Hattori, assistant director of the Gephardt Institute for Public Service
  • Anu Hittle, career consultant for the Career Center,
    lecturer and director of Hawaiian Projects in Environmental Studies in
    Arts & Sciences
  • Thomas Malkowicz, video producer and editor for Public Affairs
  • Ashley Viager, a residential college director in Residential Life
  • Mary Zabriskie, assistant director of Campus Life

The program is designed to give staff a global perspective on diversity through seminar meetings, group discussions, assigned readings and community-engagement opportunities culminating in an international site visit to one of WUSTL’s study-abroad programs.

The Ghana trip, which is June 7-17, marks the program’s third year. Previous destinations were Paris; Shanghai; and Santiago, Chile.

Upon return, participants take part in outreach efforts on campus to share what they have learned.

Shanon Langlie, global projects manager in Global Initiatives, said this year’s cohort will focus on five main topics before, during and after going to Ghana: history and culture; environmental issues; the role of religion; social entrepreneurship; and Ghana’s role in Africa.

Malkowicz said he applied to the program because he enjoys travel and wants to experience a new culture. After being notified that he was chosen, he began researching Ghana.

“I have spent quite a few late nights reading and watching videos online, trying to learn everything I can about the history, culture, environment and people of Ghana,” Malkowicz said.

He has two goals for the trip.

“I want to challenge myself as a storyteller, using my ability as a video producer to share my experiences while in Ghana,” he said. “Also, I want to learn more about the history of Ghana, especially the history between Africans and Europeans. I have always been fascinated by what it was like when different cultures first came into contact.”

While in Ghana, participants will visit the University of Ghana in Accra and WUSTL’s study-abroad partners at the Council on International Educational Exchange; meet staff at Webster University’s Ghana campus; visit Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park; learn about U.S. connections to Ghana through the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Centre; and take a day trip to tour the Cape Coast Castle.

The University of Ghana is a McDonnell International Scholars Academy partner institution.

Also, before departure, they will visit the Blessing Basket Project warehouse in St. Louis and meet with director Theresa Carrington and her staff. Blessing Basket works with basket-weaving artisans around the world and helps lift them out of poverty through the sale of their baskets.

“I hope going on this journey will inspire me to be continually curious about the world around me and to take active steps to learn about people from different cultures and be open to their stories,” Gartley said.

“I am also secretly hoping that we will get to be there during the World Cup. No matter what, it will be an amazing experience.”

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