Service Learning Trip to Kpando,Ghana- Reflection

For my step signature problem I attended a trip to Kpando, Ghana for an engineering service learning trip. Myself, along with a group of 14 other engineers, spent several days in Ghanaian communities studying water and food issues. The trip took place from December 27th, 2018 to January 6th, 2019.

When I first arrived in Ghana, my immediate assumptions about Africa were changed radically. The city we landed in, Accra, resembled some of the cities that could be seen in the United States. After traveling to our community, Kpando, I began to explore all of the facets of Ghanaian culture that were unknown to me at the time. As myself and my group interviewed people about their food issues, I gained a better understanding and appreciation for a community that operated differently than the one I had grown up in. Throughout the trip, there were many instances where I needed to stop and process all of the events that I had witnessed along with all the amazing people that I encountered. Thinking back before my service learning trip, I realize that I possessed a narrow viewpoint of the world, which in turn created a disconnect between what I expected to see and what I actually saw.

During my trip, I also gained an appreciation for the engineering process and how difficult it is to apply abroad. Going over the interviews that I participated in, there were many instances in which confusion about what the community wanted occurred. Many times, we were surprised by the issues that were brought up by community members. For example, most people complained of the lack of vegetables during the dry season. While the group knew of this somewhat through research, we were not certain that this would be a main issue in Kpando. Trying to find solutions to problems that are unknown makes the job of an engineer taxing and complicated. However, being able to spend time in the community and make observations has helped me to understand the importance of involving the community in the solution process.

One of the most unforgettable moments that I had while in Kpando was visiting the market. When I thought of a market, I assumed that it would be a small block of vendors in the middle of town. However, I could not have imagined the sheer size of the market and the amount of people shopping there. The vending stands were placed tightly next to each other and as you walked people called out to you, trying to grab your attention. People were moving at a fast pace from stand to stand and I easily became overwhelmed with the amount of things occurring around me. There were fish, eggs, clothes, toys, rice, and a number of other items that I could not keep track of strewn over the while market. My perception of a market and how it could be operated changed dramatically after my first visit to the market.

Another event that deeply impacted me was seeing the fisherman at Volta Lake. Being the second largest man-made lake, it was a beautiful site to behold when my group visited a fishing village right outside of Kpando. Talking to the people their, I learned about the many different fishing processes such as salting and smoking. I also observed several fisherman returning from a trip out on the lake. The group learned of a community that lived across lake a few minutes from where we were. One of the villagers there rowed use across the lake. As I sat there in the boat, I could not believe the sheer beauty of the lake and its surroundings. It amazed me to think that some of the people that lived their relied solely on the lake for food and income.  After arriving at the community, we investigated some of the fishing and farming practices that were utilized. Many of the things that I saw were highly inventive and it surprised me to see some of the engineering feats that the fishermen had accomplished.

The final place that impacted me and changed my perception of Ghana was the children’s home. Most of the people we interviewed were farmers and buyers, mostly adults. Therefore, getting a perspective from the children seemed important to the team. After arriving there and taking a tour of the home, several children were interviewed to see what they knew about food practice and health concerns.The children the group talked to seemed to understand the importance of fruits and vegetables along with the challenges of storing them. My assumptions about how much the children knew were quickly proved false when they told us about barns and pointed out a picture of an irrigation system. The fact that these children were aware of farming technology shows that the future could hold many changes for farming in Ghana.

In terms of my personal/ professional goals, this service learning experience has been eye-opening. After coming to college, I had considered a career abroad where I could become immersed in a different culture. This idea has been reinforced by this trip and I believe that it has steered me in the direction of developmental work. Engineers need to understand the importance of an international view of problems and I want to be involved in helping others not only in America, but the rest of the world. Seeing Africa for the first time has introduced me to a whole new set of cultures and experiences that I would not be able to have here in America. This service learning trip has widen my view of my influence as an engineer and reinforced my inclination to at least volunteer abroad in the future.


One thought on “Service Learning Trip to Kpando,Ghana- Reflection

  1. Kenny, it sounds like you had an amazing and enriching time in Ghana. It’s great that you were able to come away from this with both a better understanding of the world and the disconnect we can sometimes have. It also sounds like the opportunity to meet with the kids was quite encouraging for the future of farming in Ghana, and elsewhere really.
    I am pleased that this had such a profound effect on so many aspects of your life. I hope you continue to develop your passions and keep up the adventurous hard work on the future!

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