GHANA, Africa — A third-year university student has traveled abroad twice during his studies.
Gage Smith, a 2015 graduate from Southern High School, is a Community Leadership and Agribusiness dual major at The Ohio State University. He shared that on his first day of being on campus he knew he wanted to participate in the program Ghana Education Abroad (GEA).
“I signed up for the GEA with no context of where Ghana was in Africa or what I would encounter while abroad, I just knew this would be the best fit for me,” said Smith.
Smith expressed that once he started to dig deeper and research the life the Ghanaians lived, he became engulfed with their culture. He said he began to study Ghana’s community and economic development in depth and collaborated with faculty to develop programs to help make a change.
“I soon realized that I was not merely making a change in West Africa, I was making a change in my own life,” said Smith.
The first time Smith visited Ghana was in 2016 for 30 days as a GEA student. He shared that the joy and hospitality the Ghanaians have is unreal because even visitors are welcomed into individuals’ homes as a local. He said he his fellow members of the GEA team researched and interviewed story tellers in the Volta Region and constructed an aquaponics unit to supply fresh vegetables and fish to a community. Smith expressed the program was intense and made for a fulfilling experience.
“Once you go abroad your identity and outlook on life changes, you become a renewed person,” said Smith.
Smith returned to Ghana in 2017 for a 90 day summer internship working in a non-governmental organization development with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. He said he worked alongside the leaders of the church and developmental organizations across the country and was assigned to the development division of the church. Smith said he and fellow church employees facilitated learning workshops for communities. He shared that one workshop was on beekeeping and diversifying farming operations in a community in the Kpando area. Smith expressed that he also worked with the Kpenoe community to inaugurate one of the first 4-H groups in the Volta Region.
“I find myself at home wherever I go, but I know my roots are in Meigs County,” said Smith.
Smith said his dream job will be working in development in a foreign country. He shared as his last year of his undergraduate studies approaches he feels himself wanting to join the Peace Corps.
“I am passionate about serving others and I want a career where I can see my contributions making a direct impact on a person’s life and their family’s life,” said Smith.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.