By Shian Samuel
Why learn about cultures in books when one can experience them
first-hand by studying abroad?
Renford Reese, the faculty coordinator for the Ghana and Dubai
study abroad program and professor of political science at Cal Poly
Pomona, is taking students this summer to Africa and the Middle
East to get a taste of unfamiliar cultures June 18 ” July 5.
An informational meeting was held last Tuesday in the
International Center in Building 1 where about 40 interested
students were in attendance ” usually there is only 12-15.
“The ultimate goal of the trip is to immerse students into a
dynamic learning environment and to encourage students to become
global citizens,” said Reese. “The borders of the world don’t begin
and end at the United States.”
Reese said there are no prerequisite classes to take prior to
the trip, but students will have to attend orientations in order to
“I don’t believe in taking people who are unaware of cultural
practices, historical practices and political practices,” said
Reese. “We’re going to be immersed in the culture of Ghana before
we go there.”
Students will attend five orientation sessions to learn about
the founding of Ghana, historical figures, the languages spoken,
the population and more.
While on the trip, students will have lectures in the morning at
the University of Ghana, Legon and have field visits during the day
to places such as the Baboon Sanctuary, the Ministry of Foreign
Trade and the Elmina Slave Castle, the first permanent structure
built for the slave trade south of the Sahara Desert.
After the field visits, students will come back to the
university, have a debriefing about what they learned and have the
evenings free. Reese feels cultural experiences cannot be learned
just during the day and will allow students to explore the area in
“This is the first trip that really caught my eye because I’ve
always wanted to go to Africa,” said Katie Colin, a first-year
liberal studies student. “I’ve wanted to join the Peace Corps and
go over there, but I can’t do that until I graduate, so I’ve been
looking for another way to get there before I graduate.”
After spending 11 days in Ghana, students will fly to Dubai and
stay for six days to learn the history, culture and politics of the
United Arab Emirates and then enjoy the ski resort in the desert
and visit the Palm and World islands.
Students will also travel by an express train to Abu Dhabi,
another emirate of the Unites Arab Emirates, to explore and
M.G. Kelly, dean of the college of education and integrative
studies, said students who want to teach in the future may have the
opportunity to teach if he or she went on the trip.
“[The College of Education and Integrative Studies] are helping
to sponsor the trip as a way to expose the views of education from
the perspective of other cultures and countries,” said Kelly.
“Students who are in teaching pathway programs may have an
opportunity to teach a lesson while on the trip. They will observe
in-country teachers and classrooms.”
Patricia de Freitas, chair of the ethnic andwomen’s studies
department and the one responsible for getting approval for the
trip, said it is a great opportunity to learn about different
cultures, especially for her students.
Students going on the trip will receive eight units of credit
for the trip; four units will be given for the class EWS 499 and
the remaining four units will be given in the fall quarter for PLS
All students are welcome to attend, regardless of major, and
financial aid is available to those who qualify. Students can go to
the financial aid office to find out if aid will be available for
them for the trip.
Reese said fundraising opportunities such as selling cookie
dough or asking people one knows at a chuch, mosque or temple to
sponsor him or her are allowed and should start as soon as
Payments for the program will be given in portions. The first
payment is due March 15, which is also the deadline for
applications to study abroad.
“When you become that fish-out-of-water, that’s when you
discover your own existence,” said Reese. “I want [students] to be
able to discover not only these wonderful places but I also want
them to have some context and perspective on their surroundings and
not take for granted what they have and become a positive
change-agent in society.”
Students can contact Reese at firstname.lastname@example.org or Laura Lee
of the International Center at email@example.com and visit
www.renfordreese.com for more information.
Ana Brenda Ibarra / The Poly Post
Study abroad opportunity
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