Note: The following content used to reside on the Shippensburg University website, but was recently removed as they switched to a new format. So I’ve decided to keep it here for posterity.
John Vantine ’06 didn’t plan on taking a trip to Africa or to take up residence in an orphanage to teach math, science, and English. But that’s exactly what he did. His friend, Courtney Wallace ’07 asked him to join her on her mission to Africa. A joke at first, John quickly realized this was a perfect time.
The pair spent part of November and December in Ghana at the Ve Deme Orphanage. There they taught basic subjects to the children – all of whom spoke English to varying degrees in addition to Ewe, Twi, and some French.
“I stayed in a mud hut and there were plenty of big spiders and lizards sharing the room with me,” John said. “It took me a week or so to get used to all the loud unfamiliar noises coming from out of the jungle (right outside my window) at night.”
There was no running water or flush toilets, and showers were taken using buckets of river water. What they remember are the people of Ghana. “Everyone is super friendly,” John said. “And most people there will do anything they can to help you out and make you feel at home.
“I found being ripped out of my comfort zone and immersed in an entirely new culture was oddly refreshing.”
Courtney and John also traveled. They toured the infamous slave castles, Kakum National Park, Wli Falls, and the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary. One trip was to Ola Secondary School, an all-girls Catholic high school, where they taught sex and abstinence to the entire school.
Ironically on their return, it was difficult “to readjust to the comforts and luxuries we take for granted as part of everyday life in America upon our return.
“I’d love to do something like this again if I ever have the opportunity.”