Dr Catherine Easton
In March 2015 a group of seven School of Law students and one staff member visited Lancaster University’s partner campus in Accra, Ghana as part of the Lancaster-Ghana Ambassadors scheme. They were accompanied by staff and students from Linguistics and Politics, Philosophy and Religion (PPR) and followed an intensive programme of educational and networking activities.
The students toured the Accra campus and took part in a number of introductory sessions on Ghanaian language and culture. This was followed by a city trip which included Jamestown and a guided tour of the Ghana Museum. The group later visited local schools where they discussed life at Lancaster, the Law School and the Law Society.
Working in liaison with students from Lancaster-Ghana and from Ghana University, the students prepared for a formal debate in which the motion debated upon was “On the issue of the slave trade; is Africa deserving of reparations yes or no?” Lancaster School of Law student Asharntay Kingston and Lancaster PPR student Anthony Cordini put forward passionate, well-researched arguments on opposing teams. Professor Cynthia Forson, the Deputy Provost of Lancaster University-Ghana, said that it was an impressive debate, highlighting the students’ professionalism in debating such an emotional issue.
Later in the week, the law students of Lancaster UK and Lancaster-Ghana went on an educational visit to Nsawam Prison on the outskirts of Accra. This institution was severely overcrowded and woefully under-resourced, as Lancaster Law School student Charlotte Davis states:
“I can’t describe how shocking the conditions were that these people had to live in; it really was an eye-opener to see.”
This spurred an interest in prison reform with the student group planning to present their experiences and insights in a session later in 2015 as Lancaster Law School student, Beckie Walker states:
“we are determined to have our stories of the prison heard”.
Later in the week, back at the Lancaster-Ghana campus, the law student group had the opportunity to partake in the annual Law Symposium.
As Beckie Walker outlines, this is:
“when students had to present their papers on a chosen topic [and] was a different way of students getting feedback on their work. It is something that I think could work well in seminars in Lancaster UK. Questions presented to the students helped them to think about different areas they could consider. The trip provided the opportunity to discover different styles of learning and I believe that this is something the two universities could learn from each other.”
The trip was not all work and included a visit to the beautiful Bojo beach and the jungle at Kakum National Park. The group also learned about the horrific history of the Atlantic slave trade on a visit to Elmina fort. During these trips the Lancaster group had the opportunity to interact and befriend their counterparts at the Lancaster-Ghana campus. As Lancaster Law School student Louise James states:
“Prior to my visit my knowledge of Lancaster-Ghana was limited to say the least, however, I am confident that ties are fast developing between the two institutions which will increase both UK and Ghanaian awareness of the existing partnership”. Criminology student Jessica Phoenix adds: “Whilst I admittedly did not know Lancaster University had a campus in Ghana before the trip, it is the only thing I have talked about since returning home and it is an experience I will never forget”.
It was an exhilarating, informative and eye-opening trip with many stating that on return to the UK there was a need to take time to digest all of the experiences packed into such a short time. As Lancaster Law School student Beckie Walker states:
“Overall the Ghana trip was the best week of my degree and possibly my life. It was a great fun and having the opportunity to make friends at Lancaster Ghana is an experience that will stay with me for a very long time and I can only hope that many others will get this life enriching opportunity!”
For more information on the trip please see Linguistics student Charlotte Davey’s blog: