I have always loved watching television series, films, and most recently, web series. Throughout the past 6 years of my education, I’ve developed passions for poetry, teaching, learning, videography, social justice, and, above all, storytelling. Consequently, I have considered careers as a writer, educator, and cinematographer. Rather than sacrifice or neglect any of my career options and passions, I have recently sought to combine them under the ideology of Africana Studies. Africana Studies focuses on the historical, current, and future connections of African descendants through our worldwide experiences. Therefore, its concepts and topics could also serve as a framework for accurately depicting us in the media, creating content by and for marginalized people of the diaspora.
Right before leaving for Ghana, I began thinking about how I could use my year abroad as inspiration for my senior thesis, thereby clarifying my career goals as well. As I prepared to have firsthand experiences that deepen, complicate, and correct my preconceived notions about Ghana and Africa, I acknowledged the privilege I have as a student studying abroad, and the lack of privilege others have, to enjoy this opportunity. Additionally, having spent two months here so far, I see how the media shapes minds through its storytelling, as it shapes culture. I witness the ramifications of this truth everyday through conversations both in and outside of my classes. Particularly, I witness the reality of vulnerable and marginalized people both in the United States and in Ghana whose stories are subject to appropriation, distortion, and erasure through media. These portrayals of marginalized people have impacts on the way we see ourselves and others. From my daily observations and discussions to the readings I do for my classes, I am gathering information and sharpening my analytical perspective on these topics in preparation for my future endeavors.
Currently, four of my six courses at the University of Ghana will help me concretize my thesis topic and career plans. I am taking a history course about the Black Diaspora, an education psychology course, an African American Theatre course, and a theatre course focused on radio, television, film, and video.
First, my Black Diaspora course chronicles the events and experiences that constitute the Black Diaspora as it explores concepts related to it. Next, my education psychology course offers insight into how to best frame information for the best educational experiences between teachers and students. Also, my African American Theatre offers a space for me to discuss plays, articles, and movies. In this class, I hone my critical analysis skills about everyone from playwrights to people throughout Hollywood in historical and social contexts. Finally, my other theatre course allows me to apply the ideas I develop in these other courses to media content, learn how I can use technology to make stylistic choices about how to tell stories through this medium, and know how to navigate the media industry.
As a result, I am gaining valuable insight into how media producers, in a way, become teachers, and the world becomes the student. Furthermore, since all of my classes have Ghanaian and international students, I participate in lectures and conversations that automatically place writing, education, and media in an international context because of the various viewpoints of everyone in the classrooms. Maintaining a focus on storytelling, I plan to utilize my experiences and studies abroad not only to provide factual knowledge of different cultures and people, but also a crucial perspective about how to best approach my thesis and career.