OCC obtains federal grant to study West African culture.

A view of Accra, the capital of Ghana, showing a traffic jam on the George Bush Highway. (Shutterstock)

Thanks to a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad grant from the US Department of Education, faculty members at Oakton Community College will experience West African culture next summer.

The school hopes the seminar will encourage the development of a study abroad program in Ghana for Oakton students and help faculty add West African content to the Oakton curriculum.

Eleven Oakton faculty members and five educators from Evanston Township High School, Maine West High School, Carl Sandburg College and College of Lake County will travel to Africa for five weeks for the “West African Anti-Colonial Imagination and Identity: Ghana and Togo “project.

Global Studies Coordinator Katherine Schuster and English teacher Donovan Braud will be co-responsible for the grant.

Schuster says, “This is Oakton’s third Fulbright-Hays GPA grant, which is a significant achievement given that it is not common for community colleges to be awarded. We are extremely proud and honored.

The team will travel to Ghana and Togo for five weeks in 2022 to immerse themselves in West African history, culture and the arts.

Braud says, “Our degree program at Oakton currently offers only a few courses unrelated to African history, culture and arts. This grant will contribute to Oakton’s ongoing efforts to develop African studies offerings in community colleges and high schools by opening an interdisciplinary dialogue between American academics and Ghanaian and Togolese academic, business, civic and cultural leaders.

During the seminar, the cohort of instructors will learn about West African culture, languages ​​and literature, visual arts, mass media, politics, religion, history, philosophy, social movements and sustainable development projects by connecting with a range of representatives from academia, civil society, political institutions and indigenous cultures.

“This exciting opportunity will enhance my teaching by allowing me to broaden my knowledge of Ghanaian and Togolese folklore, mythology and literature,” says Tina Fakhrid-Deen, associate professor of English at Oakton, who is part of the contingent. going to Africa. “Learning from West African scholars, community members and students will enrich my understanding and growth in this area of ​​literature. “

The total cost of the project is $ 148,628 and it is 65% funded by the federal grant. The remainder of the costs will come from non-federal sources.

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