January-Term Travel Study Program

Ghana: Study & Service in West Africa


Faculty Leaders: 

Dr. Frances Henderson |  Frances.henderson@maryvillecollege.edu  |  (865) 981-8219

Dr. Frances Henderson, tour leader, teaches World Cultures: Sub-Saharan Africa and was co-trip leader during the J-term trip to Ghana in 2009, after making initial contacts in summer of 2008 in anticipation of the 2009 trip.  She has a wonderful working relationship with the Twum-Barimahs, has made several more contacts in Accra and has previous experience living and working in Mozambique.

Dr. Doug Sofer  |  doug.sofer@maryvillecollege.edu

Dr. Doug Sofer teaches a senior seminar in African history and was the third faculty member on the J-term 2009 trip to Ghana.  He has extensive knowledge of Ghana, and through his travels and studies has developed extensive contacts in Ghana. He also has previous experience living and researching in Latin America.

Course goals:

The purpose of this course is for students to experience the history, culture and present society of West Africa through study and service.
  • To increase intercultural understanding through interactions with Ghanaian scholars, students and villages. To explore how the diverse ethnic and linguistic groups of Ghana created the most stable, peaceful and politically successful country in West Africa.
  • Further understand the challenges faced by Ghana with regard to development and politics, as well as the historical triumphs.
  • Understand the history of trade in Africa, both during and after the Atlantic slave trade.
  • Experience dry season in the tropical rain forest, mountains and savanna regions of West Africa.
  • Learn travel skills in English speaking West Africa.
  • Meet and interact with the students of Bompata who benefit from the Bompata Scholarship Program established by the MC students who visited Ghana in January 2009.


  • Canopy walk in Kakum National Park
  • Visit Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary
  • Tour a Fair Trade Cocoa Cooperative
  • Homestay (2-nights) in Bompata, an MC alum’s hometown
  • Trip to Cape Coast, including tour of slave trade ports
  • Traditional African drumming and dance performance

Course description:

The purpose of this course is for students to experience the history, culture and present society of West Africa through study and service. The trip to West Africa will require careful preparation, active fund-raising efforts, cultural and religious sensitivity, extensive walking, patient living without air conditioning or familiar foods, scrupulous health habits, and self-confident poise, courage and creativity in the face of complexity, change, ambiguity and adversity. To this end, the academic requirements include the following;

  • Exploration of a topic of interest throughout the trip and sharing knowledge about the topic with the group during group sessions.
  • A daily journal.
  • Attendance at a debriefing session after the trip in February.

Tentative Itinerary:

During the first eleven days of January term we will orient ourselves by staying in Accra and making day trips:

  • Bus tour to Kumasi to see the Royal Museum and the main market,
  • Bus tour to Cape Coast to see Elmina Castle, 
  • Bus tour to
  • Walking tour of Abetifi to see how the Basle Mission used cocoa cultivation as a means of evangelism and peacemaking after the slave wars,
  • Worship in Christian churches,
  • Small group discovery assignments developed to encourage interaction with the people and to encourage self-reliance and discovery.

 During week two of January term we spend a significant amount of time in a village in a rural area engaged in the following tasks:

  • Active physical labor under the tropical sun using unfamiliar tools,
  • Participation in the daily group sessions to make plans and settle problems,
  • Worship with the Christian community and exploration of African traditional religion

See details of the Tentative Itinerary

Tentative Costs: $3,800

The price includes:  Roundtrip airfare, Local Transportation, On-site Program, Housing, Meals, Visa, & Travel Insurance

Not included:  Additional Spending Money, travel vaccinations (approximately $140), passport (approximately $130)

Application for J-Term Programs