Field trips offer a good learning experience for students. It is during such trips students have the opportunity to apply practical knowledge they have theoretically acquired in class. Over time, there has been a shift in regards to the purpose of travel. Initially, travel was meant to be a leisure activity. However, with the advent of globalization, the focus of travel has shifted serving as a symbol of social responsibility. A typical example can be tourism. The various forms of tourism, for example, pro-poor tourism, ecotourism, and dark tourism have suddenly gained popularity worldwide. Despite Ghana being one of the fastest developing nations, it has also gained a remarkable reputation as being a dream destination for tourists. Efforts are underway in Ghana to improve its deteriorating international image in order to regain its rightful position as a remarkable tourist destination country.
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Ghana was essential in helping promote voluntarism through the practical implementation of the things taught in class. The trip offers a chance for us to achieve a lot within a short period of time. For instance, it was the best chance for me to develop myself into a responsible individual by working as a volunteer. As such, I am able to offer my best to those who deserve it more in society. It offers an opportunity to undertake something revolutionary, as well as the devotion of time and effort in achieving the set goals. By so doing, this has a long term positive impact on the Ghanaians. The trip was much different from what I had initially expected but it provided an opportunity to work with several NGOs, orphanages, governmental organizations, as well as schools in Ghana. Many of these groups were more than willing to welcome and work with volunteers outside their country to improve the lives of others.
The paper aims to outline and deeply evaluate my personal, academic, and destination motivations for the Ghana field trip module. As a student of tourism, my interest in the field of tourism has blossomed during my high school years. I like to explore different places around the globe and actively take part in all sorts of cultural and social events. I personally feel that the Ghana field trip module is the first essential step for me towards achieving my goals in the field of tourism.
Reflection on my motivations, expectations, and outcomes
Ghana field trip is a massive opportunity to deeply explore Ghanaian culture; it will also give me a chance to do research activities in both the field of tourism and development at the same time. There are many other things about this module that not only motivate me to achieve my personal goals in tourism but at the same time, they inspire me to do something for humanity. As I belong to one of the developing countries, Pakistan, a field trip in Ghana can offer me a lot, which I can use towards the betterment of Ghanaians, Pakistani as well the whole world. I have worked with some Non Profit Organizations in my native country but I believe working with international NGOs like Amizade will help me grow as a positive, self-motivated, and encouraging individual. I will be able to critically explore and evaluate the issues of developing countries to some extent.
Furthermore, I feel that the Ghana trip is an attractive and professionally oriented module and can truly help me to accomplish my goal of becoming an expert in the field of tourism. The research activities will enhance my learning experience. The leading motivation behind the Ghana trip is not only the attractive and beautiful beaches like that at Busua and Dixocve or old European forts, such as the cape coast castle but it is a kind of destination that will not only portray the social and economic issues, it is also the symbol of culture, languages, beliefs.
In a nutshell, I am really excited about this trip but, on the other side, there are certain fears and strange feelings that come to my mind as I think a lot about the general opinion of people. I hope that with time, these fears will fade away in my memories. There is no doubt about the fact that Ghana is a leading destination and has the potential to grow its tourism; it will be able to resolve its social issues with the help of tourism.
While reading, I have known a lot about Ghana. For instance, the book that was of much help to me was the Ghana Reader. The book gave me a glimpse of how Ghana, as a country, looks like. Before the field, I had an opportunity to watch many documentaries and videos on the Ghanaian culture. My interest in Ghana grew from time to time, before the trip, as I talked to friends at the University about Ghana. As a result, it greatly motivated me as I always looked forward to the trip. Furthermore, my personal experience taught me that authenticity is a key phenomenon in the world of tourism, through which travel experiences are enhanced. By traveling, we get an opportunity to learn about the culture of the local people. As such, my expectation before the trip was to enable me to fulfill my travel desires. In spending more with the people, it is an opportunity to learn who the Ghanaian people are.
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Ghana as a country is blessed with numerous attraction sites. I was excited about visiting all the places we had learned about during our course work. For instance, I looked forward to visiting the Cape Coast Castle and Kakum National Park. Given that traveling is always full of adventure, my expectation was that the trip was to be full of fun as well as adventure. The outcome of the trip was to be different from other trips made before. First, through interacting with other students and the local people, the environment was bound to be very professional. Moreover, interviews conducted could be useful as I complete my international project in tourism, later on in the course of my study. Career-wise, the trip offers a platform for me to develop my research and teamwork skills acquired in the course of the semester.
Nevertheless, I discovered that my expectations for the trip in a developing country were high and unrealistic. While on the trip, we did experience numerous challenges that left us frustrated. For instance, on arrival at the Kotoka International Airport, the climate was so unpleasant with no air conditioner at the Airport. However, we remained calm as we understood that we were in a developing country for a worthy course. We were excited as the Ghanaians gave us a warm welcome. We took photographs with them as we met school girls too. While on the way to our hotel from the airport, we were met with the reality on the ground. Pictures of young children selling foodstuffs at the bus stations showed the poverty levels in the country. At their age, many of them to be in school rather than be involved in trading activities. Ghanaians live in vulnerable conditions that necessitated the presence of NGOs.
It was motivating to see Ghanaians still doing their best despite the hard living conditions in the country. Many families are so poor to even afford basic necessities but this has not stopped them from pursuing their dreams. To me, it really motivates me to serve humanity as I see myself as having been blessed in life. One is motivated to stop complaining too much about what they have not achieved in life in order to be thankful for what they have. I am motivated to look beyond simple things in life and appreciate the numerous problems in many of the developing countries in the world.
Reflection on my learning, connecting my experiences on the trip to learning in classes in my program
Practical experiences offer a good opportunity for students to connect what they have acquired in class with what actually goes on in the real world. The Ghana trip provided me with such an opportunity. Prior to the trip, I had read a lot of information about Ghana. I knew Ghana was one of the fastest developing countries from the videos and documentaries I managed to find and watch. Moreover, it was said to be a country endowed with numerous tourist attractions. As such, the picture I had in my mind was of a country with on-going infrastructural projects. However, the high poverty levels in the country make the condition different once one steps in Ghana. Provision of basic services like education, for example, is difficult as many families cannot afford to pay fees for their children. Parents do face a trade-off between household consumption and children’s school fees. As earlier learned in class, developing countries experience a myriad of problems, hence there is the need for partnering between different stakeholders.
According to Chimombo (2005), partnership in the education sector in developing countries has been remarkable (p. 129). Consequently, there were numerous NGOs in Ghana working on improving the living conditions, as well as the provision of education in partnership with the government. In addition to this, there was an NGO called “Challenging Heights” which sensitizes communities on issues of child rights, child labor, and child trafficking. Normally, many developing countries face the challenge of child trafficking as children are trafficked mainly due to poverty in many families. This organization was founded by a Ghanaian, James Kofi Annan, who was trafficked while still young. There are, however, many other NGOs that are working with communities to reduce the HIV/AIDS Scourge, as well as women empowerment in Ghana.
Furthermore, it became evident to me the need for developing countries to embrace the green growth concept, which is to act as a new source of growth given the increasing environmental and economic challenges experienced in developing countries. Ghana is one of the countries already implementing the concept. The green growth idea facilitates sustainable economic development through poverty reduction strategies aimed at efficiency in the use of natural resources (OECD, 2012, p. 5). The green growth concept helps developing countries, especially given the fact that they face severe social, economic, and ecological challenges. These threats include water, energy, and food insecurity. Additionally, there are risks from premature deaths as a result of poor water quality and pollution. If applied well, the green growth concept ensures that there is sustainable development in developing countries like Ghana.
Impact on future
My experiences impacted my future aspirations in various ways. First of all, the trip gave me a first-hand experience of the quality of life in developing countries, hence changed my perspective. During the stay in Ghana, we interacted with some local people, eating their meals, and engaging in their daily activities. I learned much of the culture of the Ghanaians. Additionally, in the future, I would love to dedicate my life to volunteerism. I would travel to developing countries to offer my knowledge and available resources in helping improve the living conditions of the poor. To this extent, traveling will no longer be about leisure but rather a worthy course. The trip gave me an opportunity to understand the role of partnerships in the provision of essential human services in society. For instance, I am now better positioned to understand the vital role that NGOs play in their humanitarian course. My Ghanaian experience would be crucial in helping me pursue my career in international tourism in the future.
To sum it up, it must be mentioned that globalization has played a critical role in changing the tourism sector worldwide. Currently, many tourists no longer travel to various destinations only for leisure purposes. Travel is associated with an added advantage to local communities as tourists end up offering their services in improving the lives of the people, especially in helping vulnerable communities mainly in developing countries. Our trip to Ghana is a typical case. The trip helped dispel fears and stereotypes concerning developing countries. I discovered that Ghanaians are friendly people who are willing to welcome visitors into their lovely country. Despite the difficulties in the country, the locals are always working hard to realize their dreams, which is in turn motivated me personally. My expectations before the trip were met and realized while visiting Ghana.
Chimombo, J. P 2005, ‘Issues in Basic Education in Developing Countries: An Exploration of Policy Options for Improved Delivery,’ Journal of International Cooperation in Education, Vol.8, No.1, pp.129-152.
OECD, 2012, ‘Green Growth and Developing Countries: A Summary for Policy Makers, Web.