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May 2014 YES Abroad Student of the Month

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Congratulations to Lisa Turley, YES Abroad Student of the Month of May!

YES Abroad student Lisa Turley from Provo, Utah, placed in Ghana by AFS, is May’s YES Abroad Student of the Month. Lisa quickly became a true member of her Ghanaian Cape Coast community. She was actively involved in her school, Aggrey Memorial AME Zion SHS, where she played on the handball team, threw javelin for the track and field team, and carried the basketball team to the National Sprite Ball Tournament where they placed second. She was named Aggrey Memorial’s Athlete of the Year! 

Lisa’s involvement in sports allowed her to break many cultural misconceptions. She also enjoyed learning about Ghanaian crafts and traditional music and played the atenteben, a local flute-like instrument, during her music class.

A serious problem faced by government schools in Ghana is the lack of books. The headmaster of Lisa’s school allowed her to work on converting an old storage room into a library for the school. To fill it, she inspired friends in her U.S. home community to hold a book drive. She also identified ways to contribute to a number of other local high schools. According to Lisa, Ghanaian children captured her heart. She was excited to have the opportunity to teach English and reading to 4th to 9th graders at the local basic school, and tutored two students in math as they prepared for their final exams. 

Among all of her accomplishments, Lisa is most proud that she was embraced as a member of her host family. By developing close relationships with her host family and community Lisa learned Fante, the local language, and experienced much about Ghanaian culture. Lisa says, “I’ve learned everything I know about the Ghanaian culture from my host family; whether it is sweeping with a bundle of sticks, taking care of a poultry farm, or doing the washing by hand, I’m involved. In the house and in the village, everyone knows me by my Fante name, Ama.”

According to Lisa, she felt a surge of pride whenever she successfully bargained for a fair price at the market; when she was able to have a complete conversation in Fante; when she heard her school’s basketball team singing Gwen Stefani’s “Holla Back Girl” after they won at the Regional, or any time she heard a sentence beginning with the words: “I never knew white people could…”  Living in Ghana taught her not only about Ghana, but also about herself and American culture.