One of only two institutions in Georgia awarded a U.S. State Department grant to expand study abroad opportunities for underrepresented students, Kennesaw State University will use it to deepen links with West Africa.
KSU’s “Ghana: Gateway to Africa” study abroad program was awarded a $30,312 grant from U.S. Study Abroad’s capacity-building initiative known as IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students), which is implemented by World Learning.
The IDEAS grants aid institutions recruiting minority students, first-generation college enrollees and students with disabilities for international engagements.
The Ghana study abroad program, run by KSU Center for African & African Diaspora Studies Director Nuru Akinyemi and Sociology Professor Samuel Abaidoo, offers Georgia students the opportunity to spend three weeks studying in Ghana in Spring 2021.
Students will live with host families on the University of Cape Coast campus, engage in community service learning activities and participate in study trips that focus on Ghanaian culture, history and connections between the African continent and the United States.
“We looked at the grant and thought that it would be a perfect opportunity for us to reach students who are usually underrepresented in study abroad programs,” Dr. Akinyemi said of his work on the grant proposal with KSU International Grants and Recruitment Director Murali Venugopalan.
Among 24 U.S. institutions to receive the IDEAS Grant, KSU intends to use the funds toward faculty expenses and resources to design, promote and recruit for the program. Reducing faculty costs is expected to result in lower overall costs for students to participate.
“Now with COVID-19 and everything moving online, we are going to be working with student organizations and the Education Abroad office to recruit students,” said Dr. Akinyemi. “We will also be working with our sister institutions through the University System of Georgia Africa Council to recruit beyond KSU.”
Kennesaw State has a strong history with Ghana; after the “Year of Ghana” program in 2012-13, then-President John Dramani Mahama visited the campus, pledging deeper ties with the university and extending a welcome to U.S. investors.
Mr. Mahama got a mention during a later Peace Corps conference at KSU, which outlined how teachers from the U.S. service organization impacted the president and other African leaders during their youth. Kennesaw State offers a Peace Corps prep program, as well as a variety of master’s degree programs geared toward helping returned volunteers reintegrate into the workforce.