Nicole Mack '11 Explores African Culture During Semester in Ghana

Nicole Mack ‘11, a senior in mathematics education and statistics, recently spent a semester abroad studying in Ghana, the country of her ancestors. Her goal for the semester was to personally experience Ghanaian customs and culture, so that she could draw her own conclusions about what it means to be African.

Nicole Mack ‘11 learns to weave during a visit to a village in Ghana.

Mack took courses such as the History of Western Medicine, African Drumming, and African-American Literature. Beyond the classroom, she hiked across the countryside to familiarize herself with the land, visited historical sites and museums to gain insight into the country’s past, and attended drama and dance productions to learn about Ghanaian culture.

“When visiting the slave castle I was filled with sadness, hurt, and confusion – but out of those mixed feelings came feelings of pride,” says Mack. “Pride because my ancestors endured so that I could live with confidence.”

Most importantly, Mack built and fostered relationships with local residents in and around the capital city of Accra. Through these interactions, she discovered what it was like to live as a modern-day Ghanaian. “I learned their likes, their dislikes, what they want out of life, and how they view themselves and their country in relation to the larger global arena,” says Mack. “While I highly valued the classroom experience, it in no way compared to the insight and wisdom I gained from those around me.”

In the process, Mack credits her time in Africa with providing the opportunity for her to become a global citizen – one who recognizes her obligation is never just to herself and those around her, but to the world at large. To uphold this obligation, Mack plans to combine her knowledge of African society with a graduate degree in biostatistics or epidemiology to assist in finding solutions to public health problems.

“The Park Scholarships program has always challenged me to think from a global perspective and do all I can to make a positive impact on the world,” says Mack.

Mack’s study abroad experience was funded, in part, by a Park Alumni Society Study Abroad Travel Stipend. Park Scholarships alumni developed these stipends to assist Park Scholars who study abroad for a fall semester, spring semester, or entire academic year with travel expenses.