Princess Marina Hospital in Botswana

Princess Marina Hospital in Botswana

OHIO Alumni event in Ghana

OHIO Alumni event in Ghana

OHIO meeting with government and education official in The Gambia

OHIO meeting with government and education official in The Gambia

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OHIO representatives meet with alumni, partners in four African countries

Ohio University representatives traveled to four African countries in June and July and met with enthusiastic alumni, visited with inspiring students taking part in summer programs, and held meetings with important partner universities and institutions. The trip included visits to Botswana, Ghana, The Gambia and Senegal.

A photo essay of the trip can be also be seen in Compass.

Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost for global affairs and international studies and the director of the Center for International Studies, and Bose Maposa, assistant director, graduate programs in the Center for International Studies, visited all four countries. They were joined by Assan Sarr, assistant professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences, for Ghana, The Gambia and Senegal. Matthew Shaftel, dean of the College of Fine Arts, and Kate Albe, director of development, major giving for University Advancement, took part in the Ghana program.

“This was an amazing and transformative journey, visiting with our students, faculty, alumni, partners and friends in these four countries in Africa,” Edmonds said. “Our alumni are serving as leaders at universities, in government and in the private sector and they have a tremendous affection for Ohio University. We were fortunate to visit with so many alumni from all across our campus, but it was notable how many of the graduates are from the Gladys W. and David H Patton College of Education and the Center for International Studies. It speaks to our long history of collaboration that has formed an enduring part of the OHIO story in this important part of our world.”

The visit to the four countries aligns with OHIO’s Global Strategy to leverage its vast network of excellence and leadership world-wide. The visit showcased the opportunities abound for the university to build upon its alumni base, historic partnerships and existing opportunities as part of a renewed focus on enhancing and expanding its pan-university programming in Africa. In each country, OHIO representatives met with outstanding alumni and institutional partners, and with OHIO faculty members actively working on projects in these countries. 

One important outcome of this visit was the high level of interest among university colleagues and alumni in the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) initiative now being pursued in collaboration with Ohio University Zanesville Campus Dean Jeremy Webster, who is leading the project at OHIO. As a follow up, this fall and into the spring semester the delegation, along with faculty involved in Africa programming and the University International Council, will be organizing a series of meetings to work together to shape the next phase of OHIO’s engagement in Africa with students, faculty, partners, alumni and others.

The highlight of the trip was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the National Theatre of Ghana, including a symposium and the AGORO concerts. The concerts offered an engaging and entertaining lens into current dimensions of the global story shaping our world today. Each concert was a non-stop evening of original and inspiring talent, featuring several impressive new African orchestral music, dance and theatrical works composed by OHIO professors Paschal Yao Younge, composer, and Zelma Badu Younge, choreographer. The event also included performances from Ghana’s National Dance Company, National Symphony Orchestra, National Drama Company, and international artists from the United States and Canada. Several OHIO students, faculty and alumni from the College of Fine Arts, the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) and the Center for International Studies were also involved.

The visit began in Botswana where Maposa and Edmonds met up with OHIO colleagues, Eliza Harper, who is co-directing of the Botswana Global Health Program with Gillian Ice, director of the Global Health Program and professor of social medicine in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Also from the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine were Dawn Graham, assistant professor of social medicine, and Zelalem Haile, assistant professor of epidemiology. The OHIO team is collaborating through an agreement with the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness to offer academic global opportunities for OHIO students at the Princess Marina Hospital and a continuing education course on research methods with faculty at the Institute of Development Management (IDM).

“The rich Princess Marina Hospital-OHIO partnership that Harper and Ice have fostered is compelling. The experience is valued and rewarding for all involved, and the students gained from the interactions they had with the patients they served and the health care professionals they worked with during this impactful program,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds and Maposa also met with the partners of the CHSP rehabilitation global opportunities program in Gaborone, led by assistant clinical professors Janice Howman, Janice Wright and Rebecca Meier. The partners are Matilda Mazwiduma Livik, a CHSP alum who runs Progressive Therapy Clinic, and the Ambrose Academy, an inclusive school that offers a unique model that caters for children with various disabilities, where OHIO students do their internships. 

Also during the visit, the OHIO delegation was fortunate to meet with University of Botswana (UB) Vice Chancellor Prof. David Norris, thanks to alumnus Prof. Lucky Odirile, the director of Career and Counseling Services, and Prof. Martin Mokgwathi, deputy vice chancellor- student affairs. The meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on the historical connections and engagement of the two institutions over the past 40 plus years and to discuss current education and research goals.

“It is a very special relationship that has stood the test of time,” said Odirile, who earned her degrees from the Center for International Studies and the Gladys W. and David H Patton College of Education. She explained that her experience as a student at OHIO changed her life. “My professional growth was very much enhanced at Ohio University,” she said, adding that she also made lifelong friends who continue to shape and sharpen her professional life. 

Edmonds and Maposa also hosted a fun and memorable alumni event in Botswana, with alumni coming together to visit with old and new friends. Some had not seen each other in over 20 years.

The Ghana visit involved a variety of events, meetings and reunions with alumni, students, faculty and university officials over a period of 10 days in Accra, Cape Coast and Kumasi. Shaftel, Sarr and Albe joined Maposa and Edmonds for most of the Accra and Cape Coast activities. The breadth of this visit provided many opportunities to see the depth of OHIO’s reach in Ghana and a valuable opportunity to become more familiar with the country. 

One of the key events in Ghana was the 2018 African Educational Research Network (AERN) Bi-Annual Summer Summit, co-hosted by the University of Ghana Legon and OHIO. The OHIO lead for the Summit was Emmanuel Jean Francois, associate professor of educational studies in the Gladys W. and David H Patton College of Education, while Shaftel and Edmonds also gave keynote presentations. The event also included the contributions of several OHIO students and faculty members such as Sarr, as well as colleagues from Ghana and as far away as Australia. 

"The 2018 AERN Summit in Ghana exemplified the power of transnational education to foster transcultural interactions for significant cross-cultural awareness and authentic intercontinental collaborations that can contribute to empathy, human dignity, social justice, inclusion, fairness, and sustainability,” Francois said. Additional photos from the summit can be found here at this website. 

In Kumasi, the OHIO representatives visited the Garden City University College (GCUC), which was founded in 2001 by Center for International Studies Alumnus Albert Acquah. Also in Kumasi, Edmonds and Maposa visited the OHIO Russ College of Engineering summer program at Maasa-Ofisio, directed by Garden City University College’s Registrar and OHIO alumnus Dr. Nana Owusu-Kwarteng, in collaboration with Professor Felipe Arose-Vera, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. 

A visit to Cape Coast allowed the OHIO representatives to meet with additional OHIO alumni, including the principal of a local school and several members of the academic and administrative leadership of the University of Cape Coast (UCC). It was during this visit that the COIL initiative began to take shape with a commitment by both OHIO and UCC to support two faculty from UCC to partner with faculty from the College of Fine Arts. Other universities the delegation visited with will also now partner with OHIO in this unique collaboration.

The AGORO symposium held during the week leading to the AGORO Concerts included keynote remarks from Jeff Russell, assistant professor of athletic training in the College of Health Sciences and Professions, as well as the contributions of additional OHIO faculty and students.

“The AGORO symposium and concerts were truly impressive events that received significant and well-deserved national attention,” Shaftel said. “The incredible dedication, artistry, and creativity of the many faculty, students, and alumni who made the symposium and concerts successful has opened new doorways for transformational international collaboration and partnership.”

The celebration was the continuation of an international engagement project initiated in 2015 by professors Paschal Yao Younge and Zelma Badu Younge. Since 2015, more than 35 OHIO students, faculty, staff and alumni have participated in these events in Ghana.

“AGORO was well received and plans are afoot for another collaboration next year,” Paschal Yao Younge said. “We continue to receive positive reviews from around the globe.”

Just hours before the final evening and celebration of the AGORO concert, over 60 enthusiastic graduates gathered together to discuss their ties to OHIO, while also meeting with the faculty, staff and students who attended. Most joined the festivities of the concert. OHIO boasts nearly 350 alumni from Ghana,

While in The Gambia, the OHIO delegation visited The University of The Gambia (UTG) and met with Dr. Sulayman Nyan, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. Assan Sarr, assistant professor of history at OHIO has served as a visiting professor over the past five years at UTG and has created areas of collaboration for OHIO in The Gambia.

The delegation also met with the Hon. Badara A. Joof, the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in The Gambia, the permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education Yaya Sireh Jallow and Prof. Pierre Gomez, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences at the University of The Gambia. The Minister is interested in visiting OHIO this fall to discuss areas of collaboration with the university.

The trip concluded in Senegal with the honor of meeting with the Rector of Cheikh Anta Diop University Prof. Ibrahima Thioub, and his representatives from the international office, a visit to the West African Research Center that offers an impressive array of short term study programs in African Studies for students and faculty from around the world, and to the African Institute of Basic Research (Institut Fondamental D'afrique Noire). 

“It was clear from our trip to Senegal and The Gambia that the university leaders and directors of major West African research centers are eager to partner with institutions such as Ohio University,” Sarr said. “Thanks to our productive meetings this summer, I see a strong possibility for Ohio University to work closely with these partners, as well as partners in Botswana and Ghana, in the areas of language instruction, COIL, faculty and student exchanges, and research collaboration.”

The visit to Senegal also included a small but amazing alumni gathering that left a lasting impression of just how the Bobcat community around the globe is transforming the world in so many ways, one alumnus at a time!

For more information on the visit to the four African nations, please contact the Office of Global Affairs at or visit this webpage to see additional photos.