By Olive Ancell
Briana Daniels has taken her passion of African culture and is using it to touch lives across Ghana.
In the winter of 2016, Daniels traveled to Ghana for the first time through a service-in-learning program with professor Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang, who had the goal of providing a diverse group of individuals with different perspectives on service abroad experiences.
Before the trip, Daniels was exposed to three weeks of culture adaptation classes to prepare for the culture shock she was about to experience. During this course, they learned how to dress and what kinds of food that will be prepared during the trip.
“When it came to personal expectations, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. I know going in we would be working with children and visiting the slave castles, so I was prepared for it to be a heavy experience; but it was completely different than I thought it would be,” Daniels said. “I learned a lot more about myself than I thought I would when I was there. I now see a lot more of the privilege we experience in the U.S. more than I did before I went there, even in myself.”
During the trip, Daniels and the other students got to experience many aspects of Ghana’s culture, including interacting with kids and walking the same paths of their African ancestors.
“Working with the kids was one of my favorite experiences,” Daniels says. “We got to paint a mural alongside them in a community center they attend after school, which was incredible. We then got to have a buddy for the day — mine was this girl name Sandra — where we got to go to their homes and meet their families. The next day I brought the children back crayons and glow sticks.”
Daniels visits slave castles
The experience that impacted Daniels the most was visiting Ghana’s historical slave castles, where the group walked hand in hand with one of the heaviest parts of African culture.
“We visited where my ancestors went to have their ‘last bath’ before being brought to America,” Daniels said. “It was crazy to walk in the same path as my ancestors; I’m such a visual thinker that it made me imagine them walking the same route, and stepping in the same dirt they did. We then had the opportunity to stand in the river where they took their ‘last bath.'”
The group then performed a ceremony with their guide to honor the ancestors who endured this fate.
“We each took a sip of water while the guide was saying words of acknowledgement and appreciation, and then poured water three times to show our love for them,” Daniels explained. “I’m extremely happy I had that experience because it connected me to them more than I ever would have if I didn’t go to Ghana.”
I’m extremely happy I had that experience because it connected me to them more than I ever would have if I didn’t go to Ghana.
Daniels went back back to Ghana for the winter of 2017 as a leadership member through the same organization. One of the projects that was focused on for the trip was a video project in partnership with the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary. This facility was threatened with closure by the local residents who think the land could be used for other sources of revenue, such as farmland. The new group focused on raising money and awareness to help keep the sanctuary preserved and healthy.
“I’m extremely excited to reconnect with the people that made huge impacts on me, and to help the new students going be more reflexive with their thinking,” Daniels said before leaving. “I want to help the new group as they endure the many emotional waves and experiences they will be going through.”
Daniels hopes to return to Ghana countless times in her future and career, as she wants to use her degrees and future graduate school to help make prosthetics more affordable and accessible for the people in Ghana and across the world.
With passion for Journalism and Media Communications, Olive Ancell is a Third Culture Adult and content creator who is passionate about social and cultural differences that have the potential to bring the world’s people together. She has traveled to nine countries, which has influenced her love of travel and the desire to share unique world perspectives that can offer unlimited opportunities to connect people in different ways. Her talents in content creating include photography, videography, writing, and multiple art mediums. Ancell believes the power of media is one of the most powerful tools for international awareness and communication, which can be utilized or abused. Olive is determined to be a part of a larger picture, in which the use of media for coverage ranging from hyper-local to international is encouraged to celebrate and elevate diversity and all of the Earth’s spectacular cultures.