For the past year, high school senior Greg Parker has been studying African history in a textbook. But in January he got to step foot inside a nearly 600-year-old slave castle on the coast of southern Ghana and feel the history first hand. Parker was one of 16 lucky students at Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) that took the cross-continental journey as part of the school's Africa Now: Global Perspective curriculum.
“We want to build real-world experiences,” says BSA arts manager Laura Cunningham. “And we knew that the group of students we chose would be able to come back and share their experiences in creative ways.”
There was a rigorous selection process that started with 77 students applying and only 16—mostly juniors and seniors—making the cut. Students were instructed to submit essays followed by an interview to explain how their experiences in Ghana would inspire them to become global ambassadors. Below, some of the students share details from their trip.
While on the week-long voyage, the students toured the University of Ghana, visited a woodcarving village, attended African drumming and dancing workshops, and toured the Elmina slave castle.
During this past year’s curriculum, they were also introduced to the works of Ghanaian playwright Uncle Ebo Whyte. On the last day of the trip, students were able to attend one of Whyte’s plays, “Women on Fire” and had the chance to meet him.
The students were able to apply what they were taught this year as well as immerse themselves in a new culture—and it’s all coming to a head March 20-25 during a week-long Africa Now festival.
Although the festival is exclusively for BSA students and parents, some events are open to the public. One event in particular, on March 24 at 6 p.m., features students in Tunisian- and Congolese-inspired musical and dance pieces, respectively, followed by a documentary the students filmed while in Ghana.
The next day will feature workshops of storytelling, coloring, and an African art petting zoo followed by a short performance from the TWIGS after-school acting program. The idea behind the festival, workshops, and trip as a whole is for these BSA students to bring back their global experiences to their classmates in Baltimore.