Thirteen students from the Center for Global Security and International Affairs at Florida A&M University returned August ##, after a three-week excursion to Ghana, West Africa. The study abroad program allowed each student to study different topics, including economics, medicine, infrastructure, poverty and security.
“For the first time in U.S. history we have a program that clearly is designed to improve the number of minorities in an area of government that is so critical to our society,” Keith Simmonds, PhD. said, director of the Center. “I’m so delighted to know that we can now sit at the table and analyze the nation’s security problems and offer substantive suggestions, based on
knowledge about the U.S., as well as knowledge about countries abroad.”
Program Director Erika Hill said that the study abroad program is only one of four components to the multifaceted Center. It also includes a curriculum where students can earn a certificate or minor in global security, a pre-college initiative where students serve as mentors for high school students and several colloquiums where representatives from intelligence agencies speak to students on professional development, internships and jobs.
“Our mission is to diversify the intelligence community, but along the way of course we have life changing events such as study abroad, cultural emersion and there’s a language component as well. Students will take six hours of critical languages towards their certificate,” Hill said.
Marquita Johnson, a third year, pharmacology-toxicology graduate student said that the overall cultural experience is something she will always treasure. The students enjoyed activities such as, learning the native traditions, visiting the Cape Coast and El Mina slave dungeons and meeting former Ghanaian President John Kufuor.
“The purpose was to gather research that we could use here and compare with the situation here,” Johnson said. “I was surprised [to learn about] the way they look at health issues. Here we know that Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder and there’s a way to treat Alzheimer’s. There they think it’s an evil spirit that’s causing you to loose your memory. Their whole view of science was very interesting to me.”
Winter Walker, a first year, chemistry graduate student said the biggest thing I took from the trip was the misconceptions that people have about Africa.
“When you talk about Africa, people say ‘oh, you’re going to live in a hut,'” said Walker. “But it’s a developing country, it’s a beautiful country.”
The students were accompanied by Simmonds and Professor Yussif Dokurugu, a native of Ghana and a key element to the organization of their affairs in Ghana.
“The number one benefit of this program, as far as African Americans are concerned, is that they have the potential to participate in policymaking to inform policymakers about what’s best for this country when it comes to national security,” Simmonds said.
The Center began operating in Sept. 2009 after gaining an award of $2.5 million. This is the Center’s first study abroad program.
For more information about study abroad programs, be sure to visit the Office of International Education and Development in Perry Paige, or by phone at (850) 599-3295.