Guest post: Vernard Wilson

Vernard Wilson is a computer science student at Wayne State.  His project can be found at:  https://ghanaprojectsite.wordpress.com/

 

Throughout my entire life, I always wanted to visit Africa. In my venture through college, and after engaging in a few internships, I started to grasp more of what I wanted to do with my studies and career post-graduation. I wanted to use what I learned from my study in computer science, and contribute to communities, including my own, in other parts of the world. An abstract idea to say the least considering engineering career as a software developer, but the more I think about it, and after participating in the African Democracy Project (ADP), I am certain that this is a career path that I would like to pursue.

I learned about the African Democracy project by receiving an email through my Wayne University email, and at the time, I was seeking study abroad opportunities that the University could offer; perfect timing. Upon receiving the email, I researched the ADP and found that the program combines a history course and a study abroad constituent that focuses on the history, government, and culture in Ghana. I immediately responded to the prompts of the email hoping that I had a chance to participate. I later received an email stating that there would be several briefings held about the program, and the dates and times in which to attend.

After the attending the briefing, I was so excited to apply, and I immediately started to map out a plan to save money for the program. In the course of the briefing, I learned about what the class would entail, and had an overall idea of what we would be learning and researching throughout the course as it relates to our respective study. In more detail, I learned that we will be researching democracy in Ghana, and in association with the actual academic course, as it pertains to the country Ghana, students apart of the program will researching concepts such as Pan-Africanism, transnationalism, and pop-culture to shape and grasp the history of Ghana, and how these concepts shapes their political themes.

Upon researching study abroad programs at Wayne State, my primary goal was to expand my practice as a software engineer. Though I love software development, I wanted to do more than just code software; I wanted to do something that will broaden my lens as an future engineer; I wanted to do more than just learn mathematical computation and create applications for individual desires; I want to create applications that will impact society and communities in a positive way; something that goes beyond the scope of a single individual or small group of people. Considering the concepts being offered in the course, I anticipate a new learning experience that can be beneficial to myself and other students of different academic backgrounds.

Prior to traveling to Ghana, the readings for the course was well appreciated and very insightful. The readings for the course provided a lucid depiction and description of Ghana’s history during pre and post-colonial times. As explained in the description of the course, all of the concepts, transnationalism, patriotism, Pan-Africanism, and democracy were all illuminated in the readings for this course. During the course of the program, and with the aid of the reading material, I was able to contextualize research questions that I seek to answer or modify while in Ghana.

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Although the reading material for the course was highly descriptive and helpful, traveling to Ghana provided a lifelike experience; Even beyond the objectives for this course. We were able to meet prestigious figures, and be presented with opportunities that are exclusive to a limited number of individuals. Some of these experiences entailed meeting with former presidents of Ghana, a visit to Jamestown, one of the oldest cities in Accra, the Elmina Castle, and before traveling to Ghana, class meetings with a handful of scholars that has profound insight and has conducted years of research in Ghana. We also met with community leaders and activist that provided a unique insight about Ghana and its developments.

The thing that I learned most from this program is the given opportunity to expand my concept of my respected study of computer science. I also found this to be a life learning experience that is beyond the scope of my academic career as well. As a personal reflection, I found Ghanaians to be humbling people. They are also a group of people with a high level of integrity, which I admire. I also learned that I want to participate in more projects like the ADP. I seek to bring this aspect as a software engineer to future programs, and perhaps, advocate for more programs like this one in the computer science department at Wayne State University. Ultimately, this program helped expand my views on how to apply my craft as a computer science student.

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Aside from the academics perspective of the program, I had a lot of fun.  Perhaps because I really like this kind of academic work, but nevertheless, the program was fun and highly informative. My experience with the ADP program satisfied my initial goals while also opening new goals as it pertains to my academic career.  I seek to take my experience with this program, and set new goals throughout the remaining venture of my academic and professional career.

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