Vilnius student Monika discovers Africa

Lithuanian student Monika Povilėnaitė got a fascinating look at life in the West African state of Ghana

The 22-year-old from Vilnius took part in the trip as a student at Lancaster University in the North West of England.

During her trip the Politics and International Relations student got a close look at the slave trade history of the country’s capital, Accra, and also witnessed the importance of religion to the people of the country with a visit to a charismatic church service.

Monika was part of a group of 21 student ambassadors from Lancaster’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) visiting its newly founded campus in the city.

Lancaster University’s growing presence in Ghana means it is now offering eight degree and two Masters programmes to students in the country, plus a foundation course.

Monika said: “The one thing that left me emotionally shaken was the visit to the Elmina castle, which was one of the main slave-trading spots in Western Africa.

“Visiting a place with such a horrific history helped me connect the knowledge that I had about slavery with real people and real places.

“In a sense, re-learning history was definitely one of the most significant aspects of the trip.”

Monika is now studying for a Master’s degree in International Security at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

She added: “I am giving some thought to teaching at Lancaster University-Ghana after I finish my post-graduate studies. I have a feeling that life with definitely take me back to Ghana.”

The visit to the Charismatic Church in Accra also left a lasting impression on her

Monika said: “Religion plays an important role in Ghanaians’ lives and all aspects of life are governed by religion in one way or another.”

Her trip also involved meeting and socialising with students and staff of Lancaster University Ghana, with the aim of building long-term relationships and bonds between the two campuses.

The Reverend Dr Anderson Jeremiah, lecturer in religion at Lancaster, explained: “Lancaster University’s Ghana and UK campuses are looking to forge long-lasting relationships and provide students, lecturers and staff opportunities to experience the diversity in culture that each campus represents. That was the thinking behind this first visit.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for them to see the heritage and culture of Ghana and meet its people.”

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