By: Kyiaisha Benton, BSc in Recreation, BSW, Dalhousie University Alumni
My name is Kyiaisha Benton and I was selected to represent Nova Scotia and attend the African Youth Governance Conference in Accra, Ghana. The 2019 theme of the AYGC conference is – Partnerships for Youth Development: Key to Building Africa beyond Aid. This year, Ghana is commemorating the 400-year anniversary of the first enslaved Africans to North America. Connecting to the continent of Africa is an emotional, symbolic, transformation and life changing experience resulting in new pride of heritage, culture and sense of oneself for every person of African diaspora visiting for the first time.
From the moment we landed in Accra we were immediately greeted by the organizers of the conference, which was great. The first thing I noticed was how there was a large population of individuals of African descent which was something I was not very used to back in Nova Scotia. I felt comfortable being around individuals who looked like me given it was my first time ever in Accra and I was not very familiar with the unique cultural practices that were used. Furthermore, the Ghanaians were very open to welcoming us into their culture and way of living. They showed us this by explaining their history, introducing us to their wonderful food and were excited to learn more about the African culture back home in Nova Scotia.
I chose to enroll in the committee of health during the conference, because it related to my goals within my future social work practice. Each committee was comprised of individuals of African descent who had different cultural backgrounds, cultural beliefs and educational backgrounds; which made the group dynamic interesting. Our role as delegates was to brainstorm problems and solutions related to the synopsis that was presented to us at the beginning of the conference. We were also asked to conduct extensive research on or individual topics and needed to be ready to debate with our fellow delegates during a General Assembly where the delegates would vote for each motion within the ten committees that would be held on the last day of the conference. After all of our hard work it was amazing to find out that our motion was passed into a resolution.
I am so glad I got the opportunity to travel to Ghana. I feel that ten days was not enough to see all of the cities and historical sites in Ghana. Although I struggled at the beginning of the conference, I have learned so much about myself personally, which I will be able to take with me as I start practicing as a social worker in the fall. I loved the atmosphere and how welcoming the Ghanaians were to us as we were experiencing their culture and way of living for the first time. In the future I hope to not only travel back to Ghana, but explore other countries within Africa in the future. I urge you all to try and take a trip to Ghana, because it is an experience you will never forget!
These experiences are made possible through the Johnson Scholarship Foundation and Dalhousie University’s PLANS (Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians) Program.
Conference Diversity Bursary for Indigenous and African Nova Scotians
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As a part of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation (2016-2021) funding the Dalhousie’s Indigenous and African Nova Scotia Conference bursary program is designed as an initiative for Indigenous students (First Nation, Inuit, and Métis) and African Nova Scotians at Dalhousie University. The goal of the program is to enable students to attend extracurricular programming such as conferences as part of their professional development (does not include courses)
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