Togo Trip Recap
Professor Cynthia Bogard, Ph.D, Professor Cheryl Mwaria, Ph.D. and four anthropology students recently returned from their two-week educational tour of the West African nation of Togo. The Togolese students and two of their professors traveled with the Hofstra group as they visited development projects around the nation. The group was generously hosted by Plan USA and guided by Plan Togo, two branches of non-government organizations.
On the tour of Plan projects "upcountry," students and professors visited a student-run club that works to promote sexual health and prevent HIV. They also visited an arts-based after school program, a computer skills training program, a micro-finance and savings program encouraging women's collaboration, a girl-friendly school project, an agricultural practice improvement project that started with raising children's consciousness about beneficial farming practices, an anti-child trafficking program for children and their parents, and wells and schools built by Plan after an invitation from community members. Students from both universities were fortunate to see effective grassroots development.
Hofstra and the Togolese groups got to know each other and practiced their language skills as conversations proceeded in both French and English. They visited Togo's hydroelectric project, a beautiful waterfall and a community devoted to preserving Togo's traditional crafts. The local cuisine was sampled and the joint group had many absorbing conversations about cultural and political practices in both nations. Hofstra University is looking forward to hosting a number of students from Togo in the fall as a process continues to form an ongoing link between the two schools.
In addition to cultural exchange, the two student groups will each participate in development projects in their home nations and share their progress through e-mail exchanges. One element of Togo's culture that stood out was the overwhelming desire of Togo’s people, from university elites to the most modest village child, to improve their lives and their nation through education. The desire and seriousness with which it was expressed was truly inspirational.