Hey USWIB! It’s Ashley Hall, your Study Abroad Director! While I’m usually in charge of the behind-the-scenes work to keep you all in the loop about what our Study Abroad Liaisons are up to during their semesters abroad, this time it’s my turn to share!
As a junior in Stern, I would typically have done the ISP trip but decided to go off the beaten path and opt out of ISP (as a BPE student ISP is not mandatory) and join a class called SIV Ghana. Part of the Stern International Volunteers program, Stern Professors Rachel Kowal and Hans Taparia have been bringing students to the village of Waotze Taotsoe in the Volta Region of Southeast Ghana to explore how social entrepreneurship can bring development and opportunity to disadvantaged communities.
We got a chance to visit the village for a week, each day learning how the informal economies there worked. It was super fascinating to see how, as Professor Taparia says, business is a universal language. However, it was not just all work and no play! We visited Wli Falls, a monkey sanctuary, the Blue Skies Juice Factory (where we ate tons of fresh Ghanaian fruit, went to the market, learned to make batik cloth, and played with the school kids in the village!
We had one night where we stayed in the village with a host family. I stayed with my friend Lilly with a woman and her three children. We had to take a bucket shower with rain water - it was a crazy experience but an amazing one! I decided to do SIV Ghana instead of ISP because I knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the trip did not disappoint.
Now that we’re coming back to New York, there is still more work to be done to build on what we accomplished in the field. We are working to ensure the success of this village, and the members of the community are super dedicated to the success of themselves and their children. It was definitely an amazing trip! If anyone has any questions about this program or would like to buy a batik bag to support the entrepreneurship going on there, please reach out at ashley.hall [at] stern.nyu.edu. Akpe!