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By Destiny Tafoya, 02/12/2020

Urban Scholar’s Journey to Ghana

Over the Winter holiday break, the Social Justice Learning Institute traveled to Ghana with a group of 12 Urban Scholars youth and alumni. It was the second cohort of Urban Scholars that SJLI has taken to Africa. In 2018, SJLI’s Urban Scholars and alumni traveled to Ethiopia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe in what our students described as, “a life-changing experience”.

From December 26th to January 6th, the group experienced Ghana through The Year of Return, an initiative from the government of Ghana to unite Africans with African Americans and to celebrate the resilience of the African spirit and culture. They participated in a tour of Accra City, attended the Afrochella Music Festival, received traditional drumming lessons at the Accra Arts Center, and visited the slave dungeons in Jamestown.

This yearly trip to Africa expands upon the identity enhancing opportunities offered by the Urban Scholars program. Throughout the year, the Urban Scholars curriculum covers a variety of topics including Black male identity, Black history, and the African diaspora, in addition to developing leadership and community based research skills.

The purpose of our journeys to Africa is for students to connect with their roots and develop a deeper sense of self. Executive Director, D’Artagnan Scorza shares his intent for the trip as “a right of passage, so that [the students] could connect to a history that would wake them up and help them see that they are greater than what they have been defined by this society.” D’Artagnan shared that the idea for the trip came from the beginning of the Urban Scholars program, “I saw their faces light up when learning about their own history. I made them a promise that one day we’d go to visit the land from which we came.

Students returned from the trip recognizing their privileges and abilities to make a difference. Other students also expressed their desires to one day return to Africa to live there and start a business. Jonathon from Compton Continuation High School stated, “This trip really changed me in the sense of now seeing my privilege as an American. I see my opportunity for sure and I plan to use my opportunity to change the world for the better.”

Many students had never surfed before but said that this was the most memorable part of their trip.


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