Media in Ghana program immerses students in work, culture

Sixteen University of Oregon journalism students are spending part of their summers in Ghana, working as interns for news organizations, advertising and PR agencies and non-governmental organizations in the West African nation.

The Media in Ghana Program, led by Professor Leslie Steeves, provides students with first-hand opportuntiies to learn about Ghana's media as well as the country's history, culture and development challenges. Students live and work in the capital city of Accra, population 2.3 million.

"The students all live together in one house 'real world' style, but have to go on their own each day navigating the congested and chaotic traffic here, then work alongside Ghanaians producing media," Steeves said.

The students — 14 undergraduates and two graduate students — describe their experiences in the Media in Ghana blog, including a harrowing, 2.5-hour cab ride just to get to work.

In another blog post, student Dani Dyer describes missing the creature comforts of home, and realizing the benefits getting immersed in a foreign culture.

"Studying abroad and traveling gives you two things in my opinion. One, it shows you that life the way you live it or the way your country lives it is not necessarily the right way or the only way to live it. And two, it makes you appreciate the things you do have. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is a challenge and it helps us grow."

The students take two, four-credit classes during their six weeks in Ghana, take local language courses and go on weekend field trips to locations such as the Cape Coast, home to historic castles used in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Ghana has become an increasingly popular destination for both study abroad and tourism because of its relative political stability, emerging economy, growing media presence, faculty resources at the University of Ghana’s School of Communication Studies (SCS), and widespread use of English as the national language.

The Media in Ghana program began in 1999 as a partnership with the University of Kansas. The Kansas partnership dissolved in 2003, and the UO founded its own program in 2004.

Tim Christie