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Our Newest Friend

By: Becca Dickinson, Sam Faktorow, Alanah Rodriguez-Aleman, Maria Rowe

Anyone walking the halls of the MV Explorer since we left Morocco would hear one name being called.¬† “George!” “Hi George!” “George, are we still on for volleyball later?”¬† “George” is George Neequaye, inter-port student and rock star of the Morocco-Ghana leg of Semester at Sea.¬† One of the most enriching aspects of the voyage, the Semester at Sea study abroad program enlists college students from the countries we will be visiting to teach the shipboard community about life as a college student in our next port. George, a student at a university in Accra, joined us from Morocco to Ghana, and has become a part of the community in no time.¬† The Communications Assistant work-study students conducted an interview with George.¬† To give you a bit of insight into why George is so beloved, here is a quote he gave us.¬† The interview follows:

George: My family prayed 5 days before I got here. They were very very excited. They know I‚Äôm going to do something great. I want to use technology to support my country in Ghana. I really want the 60% of Ghana that‚Äôs poor to get up into the 40% that’s wealthy.¬† It shouldn’t be that they want to do it but they just cant because they don‚Äôt have the means.

Becca: How did you hear about this program?
George: Land Tours sent information to our university, our university chose some students, and I wrote an admission essay.

Becca: Have you ever traveled outside Ghana?
George: I have been to the USA in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York.  I have also been to the UK, the Canary Islands and now Morocco.

Becca: How big are your college classes and how are they taught?
George: They are very small, 30-45 students. The whole school has 500 people,  including staff. There are lecturers, discussion and we present to the class.

Becca: What is your family like?
George: We are very bonded. My dad came from a very poor background. At the end of his life he now has a good job. It has given me the chance to go to college. He has given back to society. I have one sibling, and my cousin lives with us, so she is like my sister too. My dad is a priest. My mom is doing her freshman year at a university for adults in Ghana. She stopped working full-time when she had me because in Ghana we do not believe in nannies.  Now that we are older, she is going back to school.  Both of my parents worked very hard to send us to good schools and give us a very nice life.

Do you celebrate birthdays?
George: We do. The major one is twenty one.

Sam: In the broadest sense, what is education in Ghana like? Is it compulsory at any level?

George: There is public and private schooling. Public is free from Grade 1-6. Private is very expensive. Everyone can go to school. While public schooling is not free at secondary level, it is much cheaper than private schooling.

Sam: How would you describe a typical day for a Ghanian college student?

George: There are a lot of assignments and not a lot of time to have fun Monday-Friday. There are both lectures and discussions. We have to finish assignments by Friday night or Saturday morning to have at least some kind of weekend. Our professors take role in every class every single day. Everything is very American.

Sam: What has being on the ship taught you about American culture?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           George: I was especially surprised that most of you are friendly and open. The movies do not always show American students that way.

Sam: What is rural life like compared to city life in Ghana?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     George: Rural life is healthier—green things, fresh air. Very peaceful, but very, very poor. I like rural life, but it is hard because there’s no internet and the roads can be very bad.

Sam: Describe yourself for us:

George: God-fearing, loving¬† My motto is “love to live and live to love.”
Alanah: What do you think of American culture?
George: I really think you guys are great. I was surprised by how friendly you all were.

Alanah: What inspired you to want to join the Fall voyage on the MV Explorer?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                George: I like to meet people. I also wanted to learn about other cultures around the world and of course I wanted to meet Americans and see how you guys live.
Alanah: In the essay you wrote that brought you here, what did you write about?
George: I wrote about my previous experience on the ship and about meeting people to add to my leadership skills. My university gave me a chance to understand myself more and coming here would give me a good opportunity to give back to them.

Alanah: Who’s¬†your favorite action hero?
George: Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Alanah: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
George: That is a hard question. It can change, but I’m studying computer science so probably working for a big company. Either  Google, Apple or Microsoft. Those three in ten years? Yeah.

Maria: What do you do for fun when you are not in school?
George: I am an internet person. So I like to go online and surf the web. I also like to sightsee in Ghana, head to the countryside and just reflect.

Maria: As a Ghanaian, what do you feel most proud of in your country?
George: There are two things that I feel proud of. Firstly it’s the soccer. I am also proud of¬† the fact that we are the first country to gain independence in all of Africa.

Maria: What kind of careers do Ghanaians pursue?
George: Business is quite common. Also law and medical, but these people tend to leave the country after their studies. Computer science, which is what I’m studying, is developing now too.

Maria: When are you considered an adult in your community?
George: Officially at 18, but how you carry yourself is important. If you’re a responsible human being then I think you would be treated like an adult.





  • Culture
  • Education
  • Life on Land

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