Sharing your travel: Ghana


Ghana, a country located on the coast of West Africa, has twenty nationally recognized languages. “Ghana” in Soninke, an African language, means “Warrior King.” This name dates back to the Medieval period where Ghana was an empire that stretched north into what is present-day Guinea.

Garett Heaney (’20) visited Ghana and reflected on a very positive and welcoming country.

“There was an event at one of the schools we visited where they put a cloth around our waists and taught us Ghanaian dances for what felt like forever. The music and dances were great,” said Heaney. “Afterward, they did a religious ceremony and welcomed us into their village. The food they provided was wonderful! This village went above and beyond for their celebration in thanking us for our help in their school.”

The most popular forms of music are Ghanaian jazz and its oldest form of secular music called “highlife.” A popular genre created by the youth of Ghana that rose up in the 90’s is called “hiplife,” which combines hip-hop and “highlife.” Instruments used in Ghana can consist of talking drums, log xylophones and akan drums.

“Ghanaian cuisine is starch and protein-based. Soups are widely made and many signature dishes, such as Banku and Fufu, are staples of their diet. They also have LARGE portion sizes,” said Heaney. “Also, if you stay with a host family, they will most likely cook you French fries if they want to make you an ‘American’ meal.”

Travel in Ghana sounds similar to that of a more rural area in the United States.

“Dirt roads encompass the country of Ghana with many being unfinished. Travel is long but manageable. Hiring a driver would be your best course of action,” Heaney said.

Every culture has different social norms. Heaney reflects on just one that he noticed.

“A social difference I noticed was that everyone says good morning/afternoon/ evening whenever they meet you. Unlike here in The United States, it is rude in Ghana to start a conversation without saying one of those three phrases depending on the time of day,” said Heaney.

During the 13th century, Ghanaians developed their unique art of adinkra printing. Hand-printed and hand-embroidered adinkra clothes were made and used exclusively by the then Ghanaian royalty for devotional ceremonies. Each of the motifs that make up the corpus of adinkra symbolism has a name and meaning derived from a proverb, a historical event, human attitude, ethology, plant lifeform or shapes of inanimate and human-made objects.

Heaney traveled to Ghana on a P-Global Scholarship.

“I went to Ghana with the P-Global scholarship through a student-run non-profit organization called The Five North Project. The Five North Project’s purpose is to supply students in the Volta Region of Ghana with technology, such as desktop computers, projectors and printers for educational enhancement,” said Heaney. “We traveled to over 20 schools and delivered and installed over 550 computers throughout the 3 and a half weeks in Ghana.”

Heaney said, “My favorite part about visiting Ghana would be the people. I’ll never forget the interactions I had with the chieftains and their community members. They welcomed us and the volunteers, and they would throw festivals for us after we helped their school(s). The people loved when we showed interest in their culture and would teach us about their history and country.”

Heaney gives some final advice for anyone thinking about traveling to the beautiful country of Ghana.

“Ghana is a beautiful country with friendly people. They embrace tourists and enjoy hosting people from abroad. Visit waterfalls and safaris as much as possible if you ever go!”

A gander at Germany


Germany is one of the most economically influential members of the European Union. Germany has the world’s fifth largest economy. Large companies contributing to the economy are companies like Siemens (industrial conglomerate), Volkswagen Group (automotive), and Fresenius (medical equipment and supplies).

“Travel in Germany is actually super easy. They have a ton of public transportation options like busses, trains, trams, subways and taxis,” said Anna Dobyns (’20). “Also, pretty much everyone there bikes all the time. You have to be careful when you’re walking through the cities because of the amount of bikers on the sidewalk. They even divide the sidewalks into walking lanes and biking lanes in most places.”

Germany also has an expressway-like road called the “Autobahn,” which is known for its lack of a permanent speed limit in a lot of areas. The recommended speed limit is 130 km/h (about 81 m/h).

Another service that you can use to get around the country quickly is the German Intercity-Express (ICE). These trains travel inside Germany and into neighboring countries. The speeds of these trains can reach up to 300 km/h (about 190 m/h).

Eryn Corinth (’20) commented on the food of Germany. “German cuisine is really hardy, there’s a lot of breads and meats.”

Dobyns had a similar experience. “Cuisine there was pretty much what you would expect from Germany. Lots of brats, potatoes, sauerkraut, pretzels, pork and beer. What I loved about their food though was that everything was so fresh. It was a nice break from all of the processed food we’re used to in America.”

Germany is a democracy that has a parliament. One house of parliament, known in German as Bundestag (which translates to “Federal diet”), is much like the United States of America’s House of Representatives. It’s counterpart, the Bundesrat (federal council), is comparable to the Senate.

Germany has some cultural views that differ from ours. “In general, Germans are quieter and more reserved than Americans. For example, after we had landed in Munich and were in customs and immigrations for our passports to be stamped, the building was absolutely quiet, and no one was speaking,” said Corinth.

“There’s a lot of social differences but the one that came to me first is the difference between our views on alcohol. In Germany, they can drink wine and beer starting at 16 and liquor at 18,” said Dobyns. “Due to this, a lot of the alcohol abuse that we see in the US, especially in young adults, isn’t as much of an issue there because they’ve been taught from a younger age how to properly approach drinking.”

When asked what her favorite memory in Germany was, Corinth said, “My favorite experience in Germany was visiting Wartburg Castle and being able to see the room and desk where Martin Luther transcribed the Bible from Hebrew and Greek to the vernacular German”.

Germany is highly recommended for anyone who is going to Europe. If you have any questions ask Corinth or Dobyns.

Murphy goes to ‘Merica


United States of America, one of the most traveled countries in the world, has had few travelers actually go there. Kody Murphy ‘19 was bold enough to travel there during his younger years.

America runs on the Christian calendar and Dunkin’ Donuts®. When it comes to the Christian holiday of Christmas and Easter, school and work is often called off. In some cases people can be off school for multiple weeks. Another great holiday is April Fool’s Day, which can be celebrated by writing comedic and sometimes untrue articles in local newspapers.

America’s President, Donald Trump, is seen in many people’s eyes as an overqualified leader who is totally self-made and has never wronged anyone. Murphy has a different take.

Orange man bad” said Kody shaking almost violently.

One of the countries largest sports is ‘American football’. It is rumored this is named after the rest of the world’s favorite sport coincidentally also called ‘football’. To many traveler’s surprise, football, to America, is actually a potato-shaped ball that is thrown between player and player until they eventually run into a box that is painted on the field. To stop the ‘play’, the player either must fall or be tackled to the ground. At the beginning of a play, players can also kick the potato between two bright yellow posts at the end of the field.

As far as cuisine goes, there are many great foods in America. Some food is a lot more popular than other food. There is the hamburger which is a meat patty between two pieces of bread that originated in Germany, French fries which originated from Germany, and the hot dog which is a also a concept from Germany.

Murphy had a pleasant experience with the food.


As a lot of people know, the United States is one of about four countries to use the Standard Measurement System. This means they prefer yards, feet, and inches over meters. This can cause a lot of confusion when the phrase “The Whole Nine Yards” is used. Do they mean 27 feet or nine estates? Not even the residents know.

The Midwest region of the US is at war with the rest of the country over the use of ranch. Many Midwesterners believe it should be America’s national food. They want ranch on everything including ice cream, chicken, and, in extreme cases, pies. The rest of America believes that ranch will ruin food if you put it on anything. Ranch is often argued from the perspective that it is actually a drug that will cause you to say “ope” and “I’m gonna sneak right past ya” substantially more.

One thing America can agree on is it loves guns and explosives. It is cultural tradition that when a member of the armed forces passes, three riflemen have to do what is called a “21 Gun Salute” where they shoot guns in the air with a total of 21 shots. What happens when more or less shots are fired? People don’t know because their ears are usually ringing after the rifles go off so it is difficult to count. But Americans also use explosives in celebrations. In order to show other countries that the United States is not to be trifled with, normal day-to-day citizens will shoot explosives containing magnesium, aluminum, and other metals in the air to show that not even aircraft can take down the magnificent country on their independence day. On top of that, the US is proud of its defense budget which is first for being the largest in the world and is larger than the next seven countries combined.

There are many beautiful sites to visit when you travel to the United States. One such place is called ‘Car Henge’. This beautiful monument resides in the state of Nebraska, which is the hub of travelers from all over the world. Nicknamed “The Eighth Modern Wonder of the World” by locals of Nebraska, Car Henge is like Stone Henge but with cars. Car Henge is also is viewed as modern art due to the arrangement of cars and because it represents capitalism which is one of their biggest values.

Murphy had seen many lands when he was here.

When asked about an odd place he had been to when he was here, he said “Gary, Indiana”.

Murphy did not elaborate, however his shaking was now more intense than before.

Murphy recalls one time when he was in a low spot while in America.

“One morning I wanted some Vegemite on toast but apparently you can’t get that here in the United States so I want back to bed and cried.”

Murphy’s last bit of advice to travelers is “Don’t go to Gary, Indiana.”

Murphy began shaking once again and began sobbing.

All in all, America is a very strange country. Even the citizens are ready for war and all of their food and traditions are stolen from other countries.

P-Global leads students to Sierra Leone


The country of Sierra Leone isn’t known that well by people in the United States. Located on the westside of Africa, it is bordered by Liberia, Guinea, and the Atlantic Ocean. Sierra Leone is a land of mangrove (tropical plant) swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau and mountains in the east. Danny Lynch (‘20) reflects on what someone told him while he was there.

“They had just held an election in April of 2018, and I went in June,” said Lynch. “I spent my time in the city of Makeni and the coordinator of my NGO ( non-governmental organization) claimed one of the only times she felt unsafe in Sierra Leone was during the election when the opposing party visited the city. People had lined the streets with rocks to throw at the van. No rocks were actually thrown but it was apparently still pretty ominous.”

Sierra Leone is predominantly a Muslim country, however around a quarter of the country is also Christian. Their national language is English, but more than 90 percent of the country’s inhabitants also speak a language called Krio. Krio is a language that was passed down through the descendants of freed slaves from Great Britain, United States and the West Indies. Community-wise , Sierra Leone seems very distanced compared to the states.

“Sierra Leone is much more communal than the United States. There is an incredibly high mortality rate, so often times neighbors act like families do here. The Sierra Leoneans are much more physical with each other than people are here. It’s pretty common to see grown men holding hands,” said Lynch.

Sierra Leone’s largest export is agricultural goods; another export the country is well-known for is its minerals. Blood diamonds, diamonds that are commonly sold to purchase weapons, were sold during the civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002. Unfortunately today, Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries on Earth. “Education up to the sixth grade is paid for by the government, after that it’s privately funded. As Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries, not many people can afford to attend school after this grade. The economy isn’t great; employment is so high that for every one worker there are about eight people dependent on that one source of income,” comments Lynch.

Since a staple food in the country is rice, it is extremely common to have rice as the base of your meal. “The cuisine is pretty spicy. They put spice in everything. They eat plenty of beans and rice. One of their staple crops is also cassava leaf, which is almost like spinach. While I was there, it was the mango and pineapple season, so I had some of the best p i n e a p p l e a n d mango of my life.”

Sierra Leone is split up into four provinces: The Northwest Province, The Eastern Province, the Northern Province, and the Southern Province. The country has also what is called the “Western Area” that is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The capital, Freetown, is in the Western Area and it is the oldest country capital in Africa. “One of the weekends we got to travel, Destiny Herbers (‘21), Jack Montgomery (‘20) and I got to spend a night in the capital city Freetown, and then the next night we spent on one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to,” said Lynch.

“The place was called Bureh Beach and we ate fresh fish caught that day right off the coast of the beach. That night we spent plenty of time around a huge bonfire and it’s now become one of my favorite memories.”

“[My favorite part was] getting to experience a culture I never imagined I would have never seen. I would definitely do this trip again, and I recommend it to anyone interested.”

Indian culture moves students


India is a country known most for its Taj Mahal, unique spices, and its religion. Although many travelers are turned off from India due to its pollution and impoverished citizens, India still has a lot to offer to anyone looking to experience different food, culture, and lifestyle.

The government of India is currently a federation that utilizes a parliamentary system. The government of India has a strong central government with weaker state governments; since the 1990’s, the central government has been gaining more power. Like our government, the Indian government is comprised of a legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch.

“I’d say the general impression I received was dissatisfaction with the current BJP/Modi government, but an attitude that government has and can continue to be used as a force for equity and justice,” said Sam Nelson (‘21).

Nelson talked and worked with students who had parents that worked in international media, business, and even parliament.

In India, the slaughtering of cattle is generally looked down upon, but the federal government allows states to make their own laws regarding cattle. 20/29 states have some form of regulation on cattle. One reason for this is that cattle is associated with the Hindu god, Krishna. Another reason is that the slaughtering of animals goes against the beliefs of another god, Ahimsa, which is the belief of non-violence. This belief is comparable to Romans 12:17- 21 in the Bible. Since there is not a lot of animal slaughter in India compared to America, cuisine differs greatly.

“I think the American pallet has a bit of a distaste for what we think of as ‘vegetarian’ food, with leafy greens usually coming to mind. This wasn’t the case there; I got to try wonderful dishes based on just paneer (a tofu type food, but dairy based), jackfruit, or potatoes, and magnificent sauces. Another favorite was a sweet pastry called gulab jamun, which can best be compared to the most amazing donut-hole you’ve had, but better,” said Nelson.

Other students who have travelled to India agreed. “I am not a picky eater so being able to try food from a different country that was homemade was amazing. It was definitely a different diet and I became used to not eating meat as frequently, especially not even eating beef the entire time I was there,” said Rose Cyburt (‘20).

Many citizens of India are plagued by poverty. “Across from the school I worked with, there were empty skyscrapers, sitting frozen in incomplete construction, and what was basically shacks with families living a few hundred feet from their base. I think we’ve done a better job of ignoring the realities of our country,” said Nelson.

“I had the chance to take both metro rail, and a long distance train to the city of Amritsar. The Delhi metro is the newest, cleanest metro I’ve been on, having both the US and Europe to compare it to. The heavy rail to Amritsar was wonderful, as I got to see the Indian countryside,” said Nelson. Travel in India was relatively similar to that of Germany and Scotland.

Cyburt used her weekends to travel to places in India where she wasn’t teaching. “Since we didn’t teach on the weekends, the other interns and I planned a two-day trip to Amritsar which was about a 6 hour train ride from where we were in Delhi. There are many historical and religious places in Amritsar, but the most exciting was being able to go to Wagah Border. Wagah Border is where India and Pakistan have a gate to separate the countries and everyday they hold a ceremony to lower their flags at the same time.”

“When my friends and I arrived, we were taken to the VIP section and thrown into a wild dance party in the middle of the stadium that surrounded the gate. There were women hugging and kissing us on the cheeks, giving us scarves and singing. There was so much patriotism and excitement in one place,” said Cyburt.

“India is probably the most intense place in the whole world in every aspect of what makes it unique. While issues of pollution and poverty might make up some of the perception of India for an American student, the hospitality of India’s people and the enchantment of their vibrant and complex cultures should make it a must-go place for any passionate student,” said Nelson.

Students experience Scotland


Scotland, Europe is the home to bagpipes, haggis and many people. Scotland, USA is a home to many of us. At Alma, we have taken pride in our Scottish heritage and traditions for many years. Let’s take a look at the culture and daily life of the citizens of Scotland.

Government in Scotland is ran by a monarch but also has a parliament. Queen Elizabeth II is the current queen with Nicola Sturgeon as the first minister. Scotland is also a member of the UK (United Kingdom) and the EU (European Union).

“Something I noticed about Scotland, especially in the smaller cities, was the amazing community feel. We had the opportunity to go and join a small community for a Scottish dancing party, and everyone was extremely friendly and close,” said Sam Lindeman (‘20).

Em Witteveen (‘19) had a different experience. “Everyone is so quiet there. Restaurants were like graveyards and even if we were whispering it still felt like we were the loudest ones in the place.”

Contrary to the rest of the United Kingdom, it is law in Scotland that all of its fifteen universities are totally funded by the parliament. Students will get full tuition for their undergraduate degrees, but any degree past that they will have to pay for. The “Open University”, which is online college, makes up for 40% of part-time undergraduate students studying at universities in Scotland. St. Andrews University is the oldest university being founded in 1413.

The most common ways of traveling in Scotland are by train or car. “In Scotland, we mostly drove around in a coach bus. In the larger cities, like Glasgow, the streets were always packed. But when we were driving from city to city, there weren’t many cars driving around the countryside,” said Lindeman.

Witteveen, again, had a another take. “Travel is wild. Driving on the wrong side of the road, even if I was never actually behind the wheel, is nerve-wracking. Every time we went the wrong way around a roundabout, I had a mini heart attack. Also, there are a bunch of giant camper vans and tiny roads. Most bridges are only wide enough for one vehicle at a time.”

The food in Scotland is quite different when compared to the United States. Scotland does have some other European influences but many of its traditional foods have been around for a long time. One interesting thing about the cuisine in Scotland is that they don’t use a lot of spices. This is because in the past spices were expensive so Scottish people rely on simple foods.

“When we first arrived, we ate a traditional Scottish breakfast including potato scones, roasted tomatoes, and haggis. It was absolutely delicious.” Said Lindeman. “Having Scottish heritage and being able to experience the culture through delicious food was such an awesome thing.”

Witteveen had quite an experience at Loch Ness. “I went swimming in Loch Ness. It was absolutely freezing, and all the locals thought we were nuts. It was about 48 degrees and there was a cryptozoologist parked on the beach in a Volkswagen van proudly displaying his newspaper clippings proving Nessie’s existence. It was an experience.”

In a final note, Lindeman said, “Being in Scotland and having the opportunity to hike and see some amazing historical sites was awesome. It’s such a beautiful country, and I hope I have the opportunity to visit again.”

Students experience German culture


“S” Courses that take place during the spring term are great for traveling and cultural immersion. One such class is REL 180/380M taught by Prof. Richter who is a native of Germany.

This class will be traveling to Germany to study the reformation including where Martin Luther lived and was active. This trip also includes watching a professional German soccer game, visiting a winery and brewery, and experiencing German food.

“It’ll be interesting to travel to a country much older than America,” said Anna Dobyns (‘20) who will be embarking on the trip to Germany this spring. “I’m excited to see and experience the rich culture and history”. Dobyns is also looking forward to seeing the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s house and church.

Germany is a democracy that has a parliament. One house of parliament, known in German as Bundestag (which translates to “Federal diet”), is much like the United States of America’s House of Representatives. It’s counterpart, the Bundesrat (federal council), is comparable to the Senate.

“In Germany, there are several main political parties,” says Deve Wishart (‘18) who lives in Germany currently. “While Americans tend to not talk about politics, religion, or money for fear of tension or heated arguments, Germans welcome the discussion and, even when disagreeing, are able to finish the conversation without becoming angry. I know Americans are capable of the same, but I think that the two-party system that seems to dominate American politics causes us to believe that there is some sort of rift if someone belongs to another political party.”

In 2015 the German chancellor in conjunction with the chancellor of Austria said that refugees of Germany would be allowed to cross through Hungary and Austria and reside in Germany.

“Many [Germans] are not happy about the immigration policies of the current political leaders” said Richter when asked about how the public views the government. “Many Syrian refugees were allowed to live in Germany”.

Transportation in Germany is like America in a lot of ways. They have an expressway-like road called the “Autobahn” which is known for its lack of a permanent speed limit in a lot of areas. The recommended speed limit is 130 km/h (about 81 m/h).

Another service that you can use to get around the country quickly is the German Intercity-Express (ICE). These trains travel inside Germany and into neighboring countries. The speeds of these trains can reach up to 300 km/h (about 190 m/h). “Compared to other European countries, Germany is probably the country that is most like the United States” said Drew Bellanger (‘19).

Richter also mentioned there were small differences. “I think Germans focus more on the details. They are more reserved, quieter and emphasize their right of privacy. Family and their home place is very important. Germans are less likely to move for a new job.”

“The difference in perceptions of honesty between the US and Germany have manifested in unexpected ways in the classroom for me.” said Wishart. “They talk in the front of both colleagues and students about how “good” or “bad” certain students are at different subjects. Several teachers have asked me to work with the “worst” students in class, which honestly hurts to hear.”

Germany is one of the most economically influential members of the European Union. Germany has the world’s fifth largest economy. Large companies contributing to the economy are companies like Siemens (industrial conglomerate), Volkswagen Group (automotive), and Fresenius (medical equipment and supplies).

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