December 10, 2018
In August 2018, Ashesi welcomed Zainab Oluwatoyosi Ayinde from Wheaton College, Massachusetts. Pursuing African and African Diaspora Studies as her major at Wheaton, Zainab came to Ghana to experience a semester abroad immersed in African culture. And while she was here, one would most likely never be able to tell that she had just moved from one continent to another.
“Most of my close friends in middle and high school were all from Ghana,” Zainab shared. “So I got exposed to the different Akan cultures earlier on in my life. Coming to study here was for me a great opportunity to see Ghana for myself and learn more about those cultures.”
With her lively, warm, and friendly personality, Zainab found her feet quickly, engaging with fellow students, getting to know staff and faculty, and more about campus life. She assisted with Student Life and Engagement activities as well as those of the Ashesi Student Council.
“It was even difficult to tell that she was an exchange student,” shared Daniel Bempah, Faculty Intern in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department. “You could tell that though she was born and raised in the US, she was also heavily immersed in and influenced by Nigerian culture. In my classes, she was always ready to share her insights and experiences as a Nigerian-American. People enjoyed being around her because she is really amusing and entertaining as a person. For some reason, she would always call me Uncle Bemps, and I thought her comedic personality would make her a perfect addition to the play. So I invited her to join the Storyteller’s Club and she was instantly hooked. Everyone I know who had the chance to meet her and interact with her loved her. Both inside and outside the classroom, she made Ashesi better with her presence.”
“One of the reasons I chose to come to Ashesi was because I felt that Ashesi like Wheaton College was very community-based and would be a right fit for me,” she said. “In most of my education, I have been in family-based learning environments. That’s just the kind of community I thrive in.”
And she couldn’t have chosen a better time to become part of the community, as Ashesi hosted some of its biggest events this semester; homecoming, the Student Council’s Ubora Awards in recognition of student acts of excellence, the enactment of a Social Honor Code, the Christmas on the Hill concert.
In two of these events, Zainab played key roles. She was selected by the students to be the host for the 2018 Ubora Awards. Also a part of the Storytellers Club, Zainab starred in their first production, an African rendition of Romeo and Juliet, “Romeo Must Die” at homecoming 2018.
“My overall experience at Ashesi in Ghana have been wonderful. Though there are times I see people connecting with their families, and I miss my family too. Aside from that, I’ve made a lot of friends and been to a ton of places. There are still places I have yet to go. My advice to future exchange students is to be open-minded and not be afraid to ask questions. If you are quick to close your mind, you wouldn’t fully enjoy the experience for what it is. Being open in general helped me meet a lot of people. And that has played a big role in why I have enjoyed Ashesi.”
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