I have been coordinating a Global Health Summer school over the past 3 years at Lancaster Universities campus in Accra. This was set up at initially at the request of Boston University USA. We take 8 students from our biomedicine biology programs at Lancaster and 10 students from public health and related degrees from Boston. Each student is given a placement with a NGOs such as Marie Stopes or Cancer Connect. The students take a course taught by myself and Lawrence Were from Boston. The idea of the course is to be interdisciplinary to address the complex questions around global health. Paul Ashigbie also teaches and manages their placements. The team at Lancaster Ghana are epic and do all transport, accommodation and sorting placements. We hold a one day science symposium with bioscientists from across Ghana.
The students are there for 6 weeks. It is hard work! Not a holiday no no…. It works well, amazingly well. There is a lot happening on many levels, this year I met Gloria who has started a cancer charity in Accra; Cancer Connect. We have linked her up with our colleagues in NW Cancer who have a lot of expertise that can help her fledgling charity.
So last year I decided to throw in a bit of potential upset; I suggested taking a few arts students from Lancaster to mix things up and make life more interesting for everyone. Jen Southern joined us and helped set up the arts side of the course. The result has been great, I think, initially the science students said, hey what are these arts students here? It gradually dawned on them that an arts perspective is valuable and sometimes unexpected. The arts students take the same course and attend placements. We managed to meet up with several curators and artists in Accra and these links are being embedded into our plans at Lancaster. Next year we will be going to work with the amazing Nubuke Foundation at their renovated site not far from Lancaster campus. We met Kwame Boafo a performance movement artist, he joined us in our microbiology lab sessions at Noguchi Institute to observe our techniques and haptic skills. Kwame is curious to know how the body creates a movement vocabulary that resonates with people on different levels and searches for emotional connections that enables the body to remember and piece together fragments of life moments. I hope to do more with Kwame soon! I love the idea of working with performance artists.