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A dream comes true in Ghana

Posted on Jan 3, 2013
"I have always dreamed of diving into another country's culture to learn about daily life, not just as a tourist, but as a volunteer.”
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A dream comes true in Ghana

© 2012 Ivy Vainio

Dara Fillmore's journey to intercultural awareness began as a young child spending time with youth and adults from various countries and from divergent backgrounds within the U.S. Her family fostered many children but also hosted many students and chaperones from Sweden, Honduras, Germany, China, Moldova, Georgia, Korea and Japan. "Involving these friends and family members in hikes, camping, fishing, berry picking, horseback riding, and working on a hobby farm are some of my fondest memories. In turn, I learned about holidays in other cultures, languages, ethnic foods, traditional clothing, cultural values and differing cultural mindsets. I have always dreamed of diving into another country's culture to learn about daily life, not just as a tourist, but as a volunteer."

With the help of the prestigious Benjamin Gilman Scholarship, a federal award, Dara's dream has now come true! She is currently using skills gained from her journalism minor in Ghana, Africa on a J-term study away program led by Dr. Ephraim Nikoi, Assistant Professor, Communicating Arts, of the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Each student in the program has selected a topic to research with the help of local professionals and community organizations.

Dara states, "I am excited to work with La Mansaamo Kpee International and the newspaper this organization prints to reach out to the local community. I hope to research how this paper affects the people who read it, and how it could have a broader impact in the area. I might even get an article published in the newspaper if there is a topic they would like me to cover. I have never been abroad before, so this will be an inspiring experience."

In addition to time spent in Accra, Ghana's capital, the students will enjoy field trips to other sites including a cocoa research institute (two African nations, Côte d'Ivoire
and Ghana, produce more than half of the world's cocoa), a batik lesson from the 'Global Mamas', and a visit to the Cape Coast Castle with its infamous 'door of no return' which for more than 100 years launched millions of Africans captured off this shore into a short and brutal life of slavery. The students will also have time to unwind at beautiful beaches, a nice contrast to January in the northland!

Upon returning home, Dara will fulfill her Gilman commitment by sharing her experiences on campus and in the community and encouraging other students to apply for the Gilman Scholarship. More information on this award may be found at or by contacting Cherie Sawinski at UW-Superior.

News Contact: Cherie Sawinski | 715-394-8020 | csawinsk{atuws}
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