Guest post: Chris Ehrmann

Chris Ehrmann is a senior journalism major at Wayne State University.  You can view his project on his own blog:  https://chrisehrminghana.wordpress.com/

 

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Taking this course a second time gives me an interesting perspective because I have the ability to compare and contrast the two classes of when I went to Namibia and this trip to Ghana. There were many things enjoyed about this class over my trip to Namibia but there were a few things I didn’t care for too much as well.

I first heard about this program back when I started at Wayne State University in 2012. A couple of friends of mine were in the same organization as me and they were going to Ghana. I have known for a while that I wanted to do some sort of journalism that dealt with foreign affairs so getting the opportunity to travel to Ghana, or another Africa country, would be a life-changing opportunity for me and help propel me into my career. I said that whenever the next opportunity presented itself I would find out more about the program.

When I found out the next opportunity to travel would be in Namibia in 2014 I was really excited. Namibia will always have a special place in my heart because it was really my first trip across the Atlantic. It was amazing and I loved the climate there; Namibia is located in southern Africa and has a desert climate. I had such a good time there that I went back a few months later to do an internship with a newspaper there.

After I got back from my internship in Namibia in August 2015, I was excited to be back but couldn’t help but miss traveling there. I so enjoyed learning about other people and their culture compared to people in the United States, so, I went to the instructor for the course Dr. Irvin D. Reid and talked to him about possibly applying for another class opportunity. Surely enough, there was another opportunity available in a few months to go to Tanzania, but unfortunately one of my journalism professors wouldn’t let me travel because I would miss too much of his class. So, I had to miss traveling to Tanzania, but another opportunity presented itself with Ghana, which arguably for me is the best trip I’ve had compared to Namibia.

What I loved about the class and traveling to Ghana was that I felt we were traveling with someone that knew much about the country’s history and had many connections on the ground in Ghana to help with our research projects. I learned much about Ghana and the people, including the different types of ethnic groups in Ghana like Akan, Ga and others.

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When we traveled to the country it was not quite what I expected. I was actually expecting some similarities to Namibia, but this was completely different. I actually wasn’t expecting Accra to be as big or have as many buildings as it did. I was expecting it to be similar to Namibia where there was more land laid out between spaces. Although, Oxford Street was almost exactly as I pictured it. I also went online to see a few pictures of what it looked like, but I tried to refrain from doing it for everything because I wanted to be surprised by the country. I also have to admit, I wasn’t expecting it to be as dirty as it was in some parts, compared to Namibia which was relatively clean.

While we were in Ghana, I wasn’t also expecting to meet so many important people as we did, we were able to meet the Chief Justice of Ghana, and two former presidents of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings and John Kufuor. It was absolutely energizing to meet these people of high stature, regardless of how crazy some were. Being able to talk to people who are responsible for leading a country was amazing.

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This class has benefited me so very much. I not only was able to meet some very important people over the course of the trip, but I was also able to have conversations with a few journalists about my research topic which deals with battling corruption. I spoke to a court reporter about the corruption scandal of the judges in Ghana, and I talked to Nico Wayo who is an artist who created a famous saying and painting of an investigative journalist Anas, who is the one who broke the judge bribe scandal.

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I will be graduating in December with a degree in journalism and international studies and both of these trips to Ghana and Namibia have been so very important to my career. For both of them I am creating a documentary about my travels and my research topic. I hope to use my projects as examples of what I can do as a multimedia journalism and obtain a position in a news organization covering news from around the world. I also plan to go back to Ghana at some point in the very near future because I feel like I was only able to get a surface level feel of the people and culture and I would love to spend an extended period of time in the country like when I traveled to Namibia for the second time.

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