August 16, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 1
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Hub high schoolers head home after African adventure

Banner Staff

As school field trips go, a two-week excursion to Africa isn’t half bad.

Students from Boston Public Schools’ Another Course to College (ACC) High School recently returned from spending two weeks in Ghana as part of a “cultural exchange program” between the Brighton academy and the Achimota Secondary School, a co-ed boarding school with about 1,600 students located in Ghana’s capital city of Accra.

The six students, all rising seniors, spent two weeks immersed in the culture and history of Ghana. Dorchester residents Alanna Loring-Donahue, Terah Jackson, Eliza Williams and Dejon Rice joined Roslindale’s John Gilmore and Brighton’s Matthew Ruggiero on the trip, living with Ghanaian students in the Achimota School dormitories and attending classes at the school.

Their stay was packed with day trips outside Accra, meetings with U.S. embassy officials, visits to museums and historic sites, and workshops on traditional Ghanaian arts, crafts, music and dancing. They also had the opportunity to spend several nights living with Ghanaian host families.

“There is no substitute for the kind of learning that happens when students immerse themselves in another culture,” said Bethany Wood, the ACC teacher who organized the Ghana trip. “The students had spent the school year preparing and studying Ghana, but the experience of living there really brought this learning to life. They are looking forward to sharing their experiences with the rest of the ACC community with a presentation in the fall.”

Wood, who was recently named one of the 2007 Boston Educators of the Year, spent the entire 2005-2006 school year teaching at the Achimota Secondary School as part of a Fulbright Exchange. Her counterpart at Achimota School, Joyce Acolaste, spent that year teaching at ACC.

The two teachers worked together to plan the Ghana trip for the ACC students, and are in the process of organizing a visit by a group of Achimota School students to Boston next summer.

The ACC trip to Ghana was one of the 13 international trips that BPS students made in the past school year. Other destinations included Ireland, Costa Rica, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, France, the Dominican Republic, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Honduras, Canada and England.

BPS Superintendent Michael G. Contompasis called the foreign field trips “incredible experiences for our students.”

“It is one thing to read about a culture or to see pictures of historic sites, but quite another to experience them firsthand and stand before them,” he said.

Boston Public Schools students John Gilmore, Matthew Ruggiero, Terah Jackson, Eliza Williams, Alanna Loring-Donahue and Dejon Rice, shown here in traditional Ghanaian dress, recently returned from a two-week school trip to Ghana, where they experienced the African nation’s culture. (Photo courtesy of Boston Public Schools)

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