“Americans have a lot of misconceptions of Africa and Africans have a lot of misconceptions of America.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Jesseeca Nguyen
Age: 23
Hometown: Harrisburg
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (intermediate)
University: North Carolina State University
Degree: Chemical Engineering
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Elementary School Teaching in Accra, Ghana
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: July 2015
Claim to fame: Has been a tutor for 8 years!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I love to volunteer, and I wanted to explore international options to see more of the world after my graduation from university. I was impressed by the thorough information I found on the UBELONG website, and I found that the projects available fit what I was looking for in an international adventure. After reading positive reviews and deciding to go to Ghana, I chose UBELONG; I am very satisfied with my selection. This was my first time traveling completely on my own, but it didn’t feel that way because I felt a part of the UBELONG family.

What did you take from the experience?
My interactions with other people were my favorite part of the experience. Ghanaians are genuinely friendly, and they’re always interested in you. Not only did I learn from the Ghanaians that I met, but also from the other volunteers. Many of us bonded together as we adjusted to living in Ghana and exploring the culture (and taking bucket showers while fighting off mosquitos.) Although I was only there for a short period of time, I grew very fond of the students I taught. The kids were sharp, but I did my best to challenge them with application of their knowledge in interdisciplinary ways. Overall, my experience showed me that Americans have a lot of misconceptions of Africa and Africans have a lot of misconceptions of America; there is a lot we can all learn from each other.

Tell me about somebody you met who impressed you?
John, the director of the school where I taught, is a quiet, friendly man committed to education. He founded the school over twenty years ago and takes pride in making education more affordable to underprivileged students by offering lower costs and sponsoring some students. It is an exciting time for John because he is in the process of building another school! I had the opportunity to see the construction site, and John’s eagerness was contagious.

In a sentence or less, what did you think about the food?
Ghanaian food bites back with intricate flavors full of spice and richness.

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Related post:
Meet Stephen Yi, a University of Waterloo grad, who volunteered with UBELONG in Accra, Ghana, at the education projects.