Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
After spending a month studying abroad in West Africa, a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff junior says education abroad is transformational and recommends international programs to other students. Salonica Hunter, a mass communications major, who recently returned from a program in Ghana, said the experience was both academically and spiritually informative.
Hunter was the first student to complete a program entitled “Opening Doors to Global Opportunity: Preparing Future Leaders for Effective Engagement in a Global Society.” A cooperative effort between the UAPB Office of International Programs and Studies and Valley View University (VVU) in Oyibi, Ghana, her coursework included lectures on a number of topics such as economics, religion, politics and photography, and will count toward her credit hours in a UAPB course on obtaining global perspectives.
“Although I had the option to study elsewhere, I chose this country in West Africa because of the prestigious reputation of the university and to gain a clearer understanding of my cultural roots,” Hunter said. “The environment and the lecturers were insightful and inspirational.”
Hunter said she benefited from thoughtful discussions inside and outside the classroom.
“The communication and cultural trips with the live history lectures catalyzed a new respect for myself as an African American,” she said. “I can now debunk the ideas and generalizations about Africa. I can testify to the hospitality and strength that was bestowed upon me by everyone I came in contact with, especially the administration and staff at Valley View.”
The VVU program included two service-based activities at an elementary school and at a foster home.
“At the school I spoke to a classroom of students between the ages of 9 and 11 about growing up and coping with peer pressure, while emphasizing the importance of literacy throughout school and after graduating,” Hunter said. “We also discussed American and Ghanaian colonial history and the Twi dialect.”
At Christ Faith Foster Home in Adenta, Ghana, Hunter took time to get to know the youth residents through sports and educational activities. As a personal choice, she said she returned to bless the residents with toys, soccer balls, clothes, notebooks and pens and pencils to contribute to their happiness.
“In addition to learning about the country, I learned about myself,” Hunter said. “I learned my strengths and weaknesses as an individual and how to cope with cultural adjustments.”
Hunter said she was greatly inspired by the university faculty and staff, as well as locals she met.
“I saw the ambition of the less fortunate Ghanaian people who worked hard from dawn to dusk in efforts to retail goods in order to have a day’s meal,” she said. “I heard the eloquence in the speech of those who were fluent in English, which inspired me to expand my own vocabulary. Through the interviews I conducted with the local women and through the one-on-one support of the staff, I was able to feel the humility and kindness of the women who are in my opinion so spiritually strong to not allow their circumstances to alter their faith.”
Hunter encourages other UAPB students to consider studying abroad, both to gain pertinent educational or work experience in an increasingly globalized world and for the chance to experience something new and unfamiliar.
“We live in a big world and everyone should see life outside of their comfort zone,” she said. “My study abroad experience is credited to my education at UAPB because without this experience, I would not have been able to utilize my classroom skills on a global level. UAPB opened the door to an advanced, hands-on education and Valley View warmly received me.”
For more information about study abroad opportunities at UAPB, contact Dr. Pamela D. Moore, associate dean for global engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 870-575-8195.