Sixteen UO journalism students are on a six-week internship program in Accra, Ghana. The group includes two graduate students, 14 undergrads and several professors.
During their first week in Accra, the students spent time getting acclimated to their new surroundings, taking long bus rides all over the bustling city of 4 million people. To acclimate them to working in Accra’s emerging media industry, they attended lectures by faculty at the University of Ghana School of Communication Studies.
Leslie Steeves, the program director, sent students’ resumes and cover letters to the University of Ghana prior to their arrival. The school then connected students with various media-related internships that corresponded to their area of study.
Internships began the second week of the program, and are wide-ranging in both topic and location. Internships run full-time, and in addition to their assigned work, students are expected to keep a daily media blog and submit a research paper at the end of the program.
Internship locations are wide-ranging, and include companies such as Stratcomm Africa, a communications and reputation management organization and Joy FM, a popular radio station. At the end of every day, students commute from their various corners of the city to retire together in East Legon. They must be diligent about not getting ripped off by cab drivers. In advertising major Kinsey Bagwell’s blog post, she explains the “Obruni price,” or the price that people from overseas often pay because they are taken advantage of.
On the Media in Ghana blog, students reflect on their experiences in the country so far. A consistent theme in their posts is the appreciation for all the United States’ amenities, that are often considered commonplace and taken for granted. Students are also excited about the real-world working experience they are receiving. ”The biggest misconception is that we came to Africa to help people,” says senior public relations major Julia Vipiana, who is interning at The New Crusading Guide online newspaper. “We aren’t here to help people. We are here to learn and work with Ghanaians in a professional setting.”
In addition to working hard, the students are taken on culturally enriching trips on the weekends. So far they have travelled to Cape Coast and Kumasi, where they had the chance to walk through castles that once housed tens of thousands of slaves. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so fortunate to have experienced,” Vipiana said. In two weekends they will be going to the Volta Region, at the southeastern edge of the country.