Grambling State University Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator of Sports Administration Dr. Aaron Livingson along with eight GSU students departed Saturday morning en route to Ghana, where the group hopes to develop partnerships between GSU and three universities located in the West African country.
Livingston said the trip will be about promoting education, sports, and cultural enrichment and will consist of three components.
“During the educational component, I will be conducting a series of meetings with university officials and department heads at the University of Ghana, The University of Education, Winneba, and the University of Cape Coast,” Livingston said. “The purpose of these meetings will be to introduce partnerships between these universities and Grambling State University.”
He said hopes are that the partnerships will result in the development of memorandums of understanding between the Ghanaian universities and GSU for student/faculty exchanges in Sport Administration and other disciplines.
“The sport component is driven by the vision of Mrs. Nikiel Winston, who is the founder, president, and CEO of Healthy Life Global,” Livingston said. “Grambling State University and Healthy Life Global have a partnership that began in the fall semester of 2018. The purpose of the sport component is to serve as an international catalyst for the personal and professional development of future leaders who transform culture through progressive actions and healthy lifestyles beyond the court, field, and stage.”
GSU students making the trip will be heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of youth sport camps as well as organization and administration of coaching seminars. Livingston said the cultural enrichment component of the trip is aimed at exposing the GSU students to the educational structure of and the sport area of Ghana.
“The students will be assessing the similarities and differences as it relates to the education and sport culture between the United States and Ghana,” Livingston said. “Upon returning home, the students will be asked to participate in a research project and/or open presentation about this experience.”
This won’t be the first time GSU students have made the journey to Ghana.
“On our first trip to Ghana in February of 2020, we took a team of six, which included four interns and the Healthy Life Global team,” Livingston said.
“The student interns were available to attend because of our already established partnership with the Grambling State University Sports Administration Program and Healthy Life Global.
“While in Ghana, we met with a group of University of Ghana students who had an interest in leadership and the development of sports. We also provided youth camps and clinics for future coaches in Soboba and Kyekyewere. Additionally, we visited and spoke to elementary school students.
Throughout our visit, we had the pleasure of meeting numerous hospitable individuals and created relationships that encourage efforts for future growth.”
The GSU students making this trip will be developmental education major Karleisha A. Coleman, biology major Sanaa J. Gamble, computer science major Cameron T. Jackson, sport administration major Vanecia R. Lewis, marketing major Jalen B. Livingston, kinesiology major Jesslyn M. Reed, kinesiology major Justin O. Richard, and biology major NaKiyah K. Scott.
“Students were selected for the trip based on their levels of experience, expertise in their field of study, and their willingness to serve as university ambassadors,” Livingston said. “Biology students will be volunteering in local clinics in Ghana. They will be assisting local physicians and other medical staff providing aid to local residents. Computer science students will be setting up computers in the local schools.”
Dr. Livingston continued that Healthy Life Global is gifting more than 60 computers and 10 laptops along with other reading and educational materials to schools in Soboba. Kinesiology students will be developing, organizing and implementing youth sport camps as well as conducting coaching seminars.
Coleman, who is the Graduate Student Association president at GSU and is working on a doctoral degree, said she has traveled abroad before but that this trip to Ghana will offer a unique experience.
“I’m working with Dr. Livingston on research, and we’ll be collaborating with the universities there,” Coleman said. “We’ll be traveling to four of the regions in Ghana to provide the sports camps as well as leadership opportunities for the students. It’s a wonderful and unique opportunity, especially traveling to West Africa, which is the birthplace of African civilization. So, it really means a lot to us to be traveling there. It feels like going home for me.”
Scott said she’s simply looking for a new mindset by taking the trip.
“I just hope this trip opens my mind to a lot of different opportunities, and I’m grateful for the experience and thankful for my university,” Scott said.