Amanda Owen - Advocate for Africa (Gold Award)

At the beginning of my A level education I was presented with an opportunity to take part on a Geography exchange trip with Plymouth High School for girls link school Ahantaman S.S. in Ghana. Although at first sight many view such links as a one sided deal, I for one could not disagree more as I have learnt so much more than just human and physical geography concepts from my Ghanaian friends. Going to Ghana was everything I didn’t expect it to be and putting down in words the experiences I have had is extremely difficult, how do you justify such an experience in a few words? Well I will give it a go!
My trip to Ghana was firstly a real hands-on educational experience where I was immersed into environments and concepts that I had read and was taught about within a classroom, I mean what better way is there to learn about mine rehabilitation than at a gold mine, and ecosystems at Kakum rainforest? This trip not only had great educational benefits, it was also a personal landmark that shall always stick with me. Although we had all been given detailed briefs and accounts of what Ghana and the Ghanaian culture was like, it is not until you are immersed into the culture yourself that you get a real experience that you can truly appreciate. On the visit to Ghana we all got a real feel for the different and eye opening culture, speaking to the local people, watching the most excitable game of football I have EVER seen and let’s not forget the local cuisine, eating rat was not something we had been briefed about and I have to say I think every single one of us ate it all (granted we didn’t know what it was!) and that is to just name a small amount..there is so much more I could say.
The trip to Ghana itself is only one element of my experience with the link between Plymouth High and Ahantaman S.S, having Regina, my Ghanaian counterpart visited me in England, was also a fascinating experience. Bringing somebody into our own culture who had never experienced western culture (or even left Ghana) was brilliant, at times testing, but brilliant as it helped me in a way appreciate the very culture I live in, and I hope that Regina has gained as much as I have from the link between the schools which I realise is a hard feat as I have gained so much. Having Regina stay with me in England wasn’t just an experience for me but an experience for my family and friends as they got to know Regina during her stay, and they too learnt about Ghanaian culture, ways and food.
Although it has been 4 years since the trip it is still very much a part of my life and it is due to this time gap that I confidently say this experience was a landmark in my life that I shall never forget and the positive changes it has incurred on my life have been immense, giving me great career prospects and also bringing about positive personal changes something my friends, family and teachers would probably give a much better account of.  For all of the experiences this exchange has given me I am proud to be an Advocate for Africa and I would urge others to grasp any such opportunities with both hands and don’t let go!
Receiving her Certificate from Plymouth Ghana Link Chair Arnet Donkin