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African Perspectives on Health, Culture and Societal Wellbeing

York Faculty of Health students, faculty, and staff with their counterparts at the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho, Ghana.

Travelling to a country you have never visited to learn about their health care system may seem daunting but for York Faculty of Health students who travelled to Ho, Ghana, as part of the University of Health and Allied Sciences’ (UHAS) Summer School Programme, the experience was life changing.

Launched on June 1st 2023, and running for three weeks, the UHAS Summer School Programme offered a course entitled “African Perspectives on Health, Culture and Societal Wellbeing” that blended classroom lectures and interactive academic workshops in which students explored emerging health conditions of public health interest, indigenous African culture, socio-cultural issues in health, traditional and alternative medicine, and health systems in Africa. Field trips, community visits, volunteer engagement opportunities and social and cultural networking events – including explorations of music and dance – provided a rich and engaging learning experience. Another highlight for students were visits to landmarks including the breath-taking mountain Afadjato (Ghana’s highest mountain), Tagbo falls, the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, Amedzofe canopy walk and Cultural Village, along with tours of Cape Coast castle and other intriguing historical national monuments.

For academic leaders at UHAS, the purpose of the summer program is to create engagement

between UHAS faculty and students and their York counterparts to learn and share ideas, skills, research and content areas. “We are interested in your collaboration because we believe healthcare is dynamic and together, we can train better students for the health sector everywhere,” said UHAS Vice Chancellor Prof. Lydia Aziato. Professor Frank Baiden, Chairman of the Summer School Planning Committee, said the goal is to have long-term relationships with collaborations and networks. “We are in an era of global learning and comparative learning helps us get better.”

Faculty of Health students with UHAS and YorkU faculty and staff L-R: Sakina Hussaini (Psychology student), Robyn Ahn (Kinesiology student), Margaret Ofori (UHAS), Ewan Ardern (son of York Nursing Prof Catriona Buick), York Nursing Prof Catriona Buick, Veronica Salia (UHAS), Julie Hard, Faculty of Health International Relations Manager (purple top), Irene Torshie Attachie (UHAS), Ruby Willekes (daughter of Julie Hard, in front in light yellow dress).

For York Psychology student, Sakina Hussaini, the most significant takeaway was her ability to integrate herself into a diverse culture and environment, an experience she cherishes as the highlight of her study abroad journey. “I built on my critical thinking skills, how I think about the world and the connection between education and society. As a psychology student, I had the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of people and learn about how cultural circumstance impacts the health and wellbeing of others”.

“The summer program surpassed my expectations,” said Kinesiology & Health Science student Robyn Ahn. “The vibrant culture, engaging educational activities, and meaningful connections I made were truly life changing. From hands-on workshops to forming lasting friendships, every moment was a learning opportunity. The experience broadened my horizons and left me with cherished memories.”