Dear Wellesley: Mehak Sarang '18 Writes from Ghana Where She’s Interning with an NGO that Runs After-School Science Clubs for Girls
In the third of our 2016 Summer Postcard Series, Physics major Mehak Sarang '18 writes from Ghana where she’s participating in a Global Engagement Internship through Wellesley's Center for Work and Service.
Hey there, Wellesley,
I’ve been thinking a lot about you here in Nsawam, Ghana as I finish up the fourth week of my CWS Global Engagement internship with The Exploratory—a local NGO that runs after-school science clubs for girls. I'm here with Caleb Bercu '16, working on developing the SeedKit, a low-cost lab-in-a-box that can be used to teach students hands-on science activities.
We're living with Boston-based Connie Chow, founder of The Exploratory. You know, I often bestow the title of "most beautiful place I have lived" to you, Wellesley; but I think you may have been bested. Our house here in Nsawam sits atop a hill that overlooks a beautiful, mountainous, palm tree-scattered landscape. And when the sun is setting… well it doesn't get much better than this.
Life in Ghana is, quite simply, joyous. The food is delicious, and the people are kind-hearted. As we make our way across rural Ghana visiting schools (to see how we can make science materials that are effective and enjoyable!), we rely on the "tro tros"—15-seater buses that pass by on the main road every five minutes.
To describe a tro tro ride may be impossible … but let me tell you, Wellesley, it is cheaper than the Peter Pan, and a much more exciting experience! We have been in tro tros with TVs playing Ghanian serials and even shared rides with goats. Most days, however, we enjoy a simple morning chat with the passengers. In lieu of a phrasebook app, we’ve been relying on the kindness of tro tro riders as we try to learn Twi, the local dialect.
And the internship? Even though we are bringing the "teaching supplies" I think Caleb and I have truly been the students during our time here in Ghana.
From the teachers, we've learned how the government fails to provide funding for science supplies, and where the SeedKit may be able to fit in the gaps. From the students, we've learned what they find interesting about science, and what they actually want to learn (in addition to many recommendations on what to eat while in Ghana!). From Connie, our supervisor, we've had conversations about what it takes to run an NGO, train teachers, and most importantly, what it means to live life as a scientist who is dedicated to social good — all from the comfort of our own home over a delicious home-cooked meal.
This summer in Ghana has been an experience unlike anything I could have imagined… in the best way possible. I'm looking forward to many more unpredictable tro tro rides and learning as much as possible before I come back to your beautiful campus this fall, Wellesley.