Skip to content

Ghana Homestay: A Student's Experience

SAS students were greeted by the children of the village on their Senase homestay. For many, playing with the kids was the most rewarding part. Photo by Ian Rodgers.

For many Semester at Sea students, our time in Ghana was life-changing. In this touching story of cultural differences and unity, SAS student Ian Rodgers from the University of San Diego, recounts his experience and shares with us how his time in a village in Ghana has impacted his view on the world.

For me, Ghana has truly been the highlight of our voyage so far. It has completely changed my perspective on many things, especially the lifestyle I lead back home.

About three weeks into our voyage, I decided to go out on a limb and sign up for a home stay in Ghana.  The 30 of us participating in the home stay met up the first morning in Ghana to meet Fred, our guide for the next three days.

We boarded the bus to Senase, a village of 3,000 in Northwest Ghana. Once we got to the village, we were greeted by Fred’s aunt with a hot meal. I decided that whatever happened the next day, I was going to make the most of the experience.

We woke up the next morning to the sound of the roosters, and made our way to the center of the village, where we were greeted by the queen mother and the other elders. A young girl performed a dance for us with Ghanaian drums in the background, and then the elders each thanked us for coming to the village and helping their children and their schools.

Laura Giuffrida, from Christopher Newport University, Ian Rodgers and Jennifer Auerbach from the University of San Diego, as well as several other SAS students, handed out toothbruses from Global Grins to the Senase Community. Photo by Jennifer Auerbach.

After our meeting ended, we split up into three groups and went to the different schools, spending most of the day handing out toothbrushes and school supplies, meeting with the children, and playing trivia with the various classes. It was really interesting to see the schools and to see what all of the different classes were learning.

After we finished at the school, we went to the village market area to look around, and one of the other schools let out as we were exploring. We ended up bringing about 60 children with us to our dance and drum lesson that afternoon, which made it all the more embarrassing, but it was fun nonetheless. We went out that night and sat in an open-air restaurant, drinking Fanta and talking with Fred and his friends.

We got back to our host’s house that night literally seconds before the skies opened up over Senase, and since the power was out, Fred, Cari (my roommate for the 3 days) and I sat out on the porch listening to the pouring rain and talking about our lives. We were able to hear Fred’s story, which was absolutely incredible, but will have to wait for another time. I can say it gave me a new sense of respect for the Ghanaian people, their resilience in the face of tremendous adversity, and the immense amount of care and love they hold in their hearts, not only for their families but their entire community.

SAS students were taught a traditional dance while in Senase, which they performed to the delight of the community. Photo by Raquel Meade.

The next day we performed our dance for one of the schools, to the delight (and laughter) of the children, queen mother, and principal. After that it was back on the bus for another 11-hour drive back to Tema.

During the bus ride, new thoughts, reservations and questions filled my mind. Where is this fire Senase lit in my heart going to take me, and how can I feed it and build it into real change? How do I reconcile my privilege, which is the only reason I was able to have this experience, with what we had seen in the last three days? How do I bring this back to the shipboard community, and then back home to my family and friends? These were only a few of the questions that I was struggling with and continue to struggle with, and I can’t say I have found any answers yet. All I know is that Senase did indeed light a fire within me, and I refuse to ever let it burn out.

  • Culture
  • Education
  • Life at Sea
  • Service

Related Articles

Who’s On Board? Meet Dorcas, our Tutu Ubuntu Scholar
Read More
Semester at Sea updates Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 itineraries with new destinations on three continents
Read More
Spring 2023 Voyage: By the Numbers
Read More