Ghana: Robert Hall

My initial perceptions about Ghana consisted of my imagination as I applied for the actual program. I mostly had very mundane interests in visiting Ghana, such as visiting natural areas and herbariums, but underneath all of this was the intense desire to manifest an event in my life—leaving my nation. United States law had denied me this freedom for so long and finally entertaining travel signaled a transformation from the life I led up to that point.

I was incredibly afraid that the different layers of background checks administered by university faculty could turn south. I was also afraid of the ominous and ambiguous nature of appealing to Ghana’s consulate—an institution which, in my mind, surely was very busy and did not have time to worry about someone like me. I often felt different than the rest of the group I went with because of this, in terms of both the legal ramifications and shift in perception of the world I was going to experience. As the program progressed, my unique history made me realize the importance of the company I travelled with in any scenario, and that implications for actions could exponentially affect me in ways that normal citizen would not have to face.

I was overjoyed to hear that the university, consulate, and multiple organizations for scholarships, including the United States itself, through the Gilman Scholarship, supported me. I did not miss the irony concerning the latter honorarium. While sitting at the airport, it dawned on me in a surreal fashion that I was truly going to head to Ghana. I also keenly remember being aware that I knew only a patchwork of the study abroad pre-readings, a few fragments of conversations with our group at the Memorial Terrace, and mostly a whole lot of nothing. This changed while I sat at the Washington DC airport. It took me a moment to realize that Ghanaians surrounded me in the airport, an experience unfamiliar to me. Everyone seemed tired but also excited. Everyone was friendly when they spoke to one another, including me. I soon learned, when I reached Ghana, that this was quite normal. For the rest of my program, which entailed many visits to unique areas, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how welcomed I was, and these stories will be the source of many future conversations.

Robert Hall

Majors: Genetics & Genomics and History with Honors

Certificates: Excellence in Stem Cell Sciences and Environmental Studies

Home Affiliations: Ronald E. McNair Scholars, Community Environmental Scholars Program, Center for Educational Opportunity Scholar

Program: UW Health & Food Systems: Human, Agricultural, & Environmental Health in Ghana