This past summer, Bisi spent 4 weeks studying abroad in Accra, Ghana through The Council on International Educational Exchange program at the University of Ghana. At the University of Ghana, Bisi was involved with a series of coursework including studying reproductive health through a socio-cultural lens and taking an intensive Twi language course, where she received high remarks for her work. Additionally, She studied the cultural aspects of Accra, Ghana, including several prominent tribes in the greater Accra and Asante region. This included their distinctions through routine excursions as well. Bisi utilized a hands-on approach to study tribes and cultural distinctions between them. During her time in Accra, Bisi primarily focused on the Ashanti tribe, its historical development, and later development of the Asante empire. To study this phenomenon more in depth, She visited the Ashanti region about four hours north of the Accra region. She not only discovered her family lineage through visits to museum areas but through tours and familial research in the area. Furthermore, Bisi studied women and mercantilism in Ghanaian culture by observing the Ghanaian markets. At the markets, Bisi enhanced her Twi by engaging with vendors in the local language. She learned that the cultural differences she experienced abroad were not much different than what she had experienced at home. She overcame small inconveniences such as the lack of consistent Wi-Fi, bucket showers, and risk of malaria by quickly by acclimated herself within the culture. Studying abroad for the first time as a person tied closing to the culture, Bisi was able to explore a piece of her identity and leave a lasting legacy that will never leave her.
CEE Title: Bye Bye Bias: Unpacking Implicit Bias Internationally and Domestically
In this event, my fellow cohort member as well as I assembled an event to speak about our experiences abroad. Specifically, we spoke about the biases and stereotypes that each member had before traveling abroad and how these biases and experiences changed after interacting with a culture different from ours. We introduced this idea through an interactive activity as well as an informational video and discussion. In the first activity, we engaged the audience by asking them to address their own bias by drawing a scientist. Through this, the audience members could see the uniformity in their drawings. We asked the audience members to share their drawings with everyone. Most individuals drew their depiction of a white male in a lab coat. However, one audience member did draw a woman scientist. We then showed a slide of scientists across racial lines, gender lines, and international scientists. Although individuals may appear to be free from bias, this exercise expressed that we all have biases whether intentional or unintentional. From this activity, we showed a New York Times video defining bias and how it appears in our everyday interactions. These videos were a short docu-series, which were informative and provided information on how biases cultivate as well as ways to mediate such bias. This docu-series also defined implicit bias through thought experiments including in professional and school situations. After we presented these two activities, we had a discussion on biases that we exhibited internationally and abroad. I touched upon my personal bias involving conservatism and Ghanaians. Through the Vira. I Heinz Women in Global Leadership program, I traveled to Ghana for the first time. My mother is Ghanaian and I carried an interpretation of Ghanaians as being “conservative”. However when I arrived and interacted with students at the University of Ghana, I realized that each individual has a different interpretation of the world. Thus in the event, I explained and addressed my own bias abroad. My cohort member addressed regional bias with individuals’ who participated in the same program. We also discussed how in every day interactions biases could occur. For example, an audience member shared that she unintentionally caters to one audience over another. This was not malicious intentionally but because of the perception surrounding such a group. Overall, our Community Engagement Experience drew upon a commonality and helped inform our values that we can apply toward a stronger effective conversation involving cultural and ethnic differences.