Carleton University Students Embark on Cultural Expedition to Ghana to Study Ewe Language and Highlife Music

In a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, twelve Carleton University students from the Institute of African Studies and the music program’s Urban and Rural Music in Community course embarked on an 18-day adventure to Ghana. The students, whose perspectives have been forever changed, delved into the rich cultural heritage of Ghana, specifically focusing on the Ewe language and Highlife music.


For Siobhan Atkins and Anita Kaneza, both enrolled in the Bachelor of Global and International Studies (BGInS) program, this course fulfilled their international experience requirement (IER) for their degrees. Reflecting on her time in Ghana, Atkins expressed her gratitude, stating, “Getting the opportunity to visit Ghana for my IER was amazing. Taking the course taught abroad and learning about the culture while embracing it was an incredible experience.”

The students commenced their journey at the University of Ghana in Accra, where they immersed themselves in Ewe language courses, studied the history of Highlife music, and attended captivating live music concerts. Subsequently, they ventured to the Ewe village of Dagbamete in the Volta Region, where they spent five days engrossed in the local culture. The students had the privilege of playing in a drum ensemble for a traditional ceremony, visiting a voodoo shrine, and experiencing firsthand the vibrant traditions and customs of the Ewe people.


BGInS students Siobhan Atkins and Anita Kaneza stand outside the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana on May 17, 2023.

Kaneza, whose lifelong dream was to explore the world, expressed her enthusiasm, saying, “I’ve wanted to see the world I live in as far back as I can remember. The development of several African nations has grown at the fastest rate in the world. I grew up in Africa. I wanted to see the continent again with new eyes and from a different point of view than I already knew.” She further noted, “We saw how shared traditions like food, music, and religion unite people while keeping their shared identities alive and passing them on to the next generation. Ghana altered my perception of Africa as a continent.”

Expressing her gratitude to everyone involved in making the trip possible, Atkins emphasized the immense value of the experience, stating, “I’m very grateful for this class to have been an option for my BGInS IER. Thank you to our Carleton music course instructor Kathy Armstrong, faculty, my fellow classmates, and the amazing people in Ghana that made our trip an incredible learning and life experience.”

The BGInS program at Carleton University focuses on providing students with international perspectives and skills that give them a competitive edge in the global job market. With 18 specializations to choose from, including a second-language requirement and an international experience requirement, students not only gain knowledge and skills but also develop a transformed worldview.

The journey to Ghana has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on these Carleton University students, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Ghanaian culture, music, and traditions. As they return to their studies, their newfound knowledge and enriched perspectives will continue to shape their academic and personal journeys.

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Akesse Sanza

Akesse Sanza is a Ghanaian Travel Blogger, Travel and Tourism Consultant, and Anti-human Trafficking And Safe Migration advocate. Akesse loves everything Travel & Tourism and aims to see every single country in the world.

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