Michael Williams has lived and worked in Ghana for over 20 years. Passionate about international education, he is a Resident Director in the coastal town of Accra, Ghana, through AHA International. Read more to discover more about studying abroad in Ghana!
What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I served as the Resident Director of the CIEE Ghana program during its initial 12 years, from 1994 to 2012. Afterwards, I remained in international education, in Ghana, by setting up the Aya Centre, a single purpose, multi-service organization designed to enhance the learning experience and cultural awareness of persons traveling to Ghana. Thus, I had the requisite experience to serve as the Resident Director for the AHA Ghana Program.
What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
There are many unique things about Ghana. The most obvious is that Ghana is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to have gained its independence from European colonialism. It’s also worth noting that the Ghanaian people are famous for their warmth, hospitality, and friendliness. Moreover, the country itself is very stable and peaceful—devoid of the very divisive ethnic, religious, and political cleavages that plague so many other countries in Africa in particular, and the world at-large.
What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
That I have 6 children, all of whom are females.
What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I enjoy helping students to explore Ghana and, by extension, different aspects of themselves. So much of their future is being created here, and I enjoy being a part of that process.
What are some of the challenges of your job?
The main challenges center around Ghana’s status as a developing country. It’s economic, technological, and industrial underdevelopment can weigh heavy on everyone, but especially on persons from highly developed countries. Helping students to adjust to that is never easy. Of course, this is also one of the advantages of studying in Ghana—to see and understand how the majority of people in the world live in a globalized world characterized by so much poverty and inequality.
What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
The biggest challenge for incoming students revolves around their effort to adjust and adapt to a country that is so culturally different than United States. However, this is a challenge that can not only be very gratifying, but should also make the entire experience worthwhile.
What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
They should read as much about Ghana as they can. They should also keep up with its current events. Students should come prepared to accept Ghana on its own cultural terms without comparing it (favorably or unfavorably) to the United States or any other country. I believe this applies to any country one is planning to visit.
What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Anti-Malaria medicine. Malaria is largely preventable and treatable; still, it’s very important to respect it as a potentially harmful disease if you don’t protect yourself.
What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
I believe they should return to their home country with a greater sense of their own humanity, and the importance of what each of them do in life and its affect the rest of humanity.
To learn more about attending Michael’s program, follow this link!