Education Across Borders: Why I'm Traveling to Ghana

By
,
October 4, 2016

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts from each of the CommonBond members and employees who joined us on our second-annual trip to Ghana to see CommonBond's Social Promise in action. Read posts by each member and employee who is taking the trip to understand why the trip is important to them and what they are looking forward to.

Name

Jasmine Knowles 

School/Grad Year

University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2014 

What She's Bringing on the Plane 

  • Reading: The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward 
  • Listening to: "A Seat at the Table" by Solange Knowles 
  • In her carry-on: Monster trail mix, eye mask, and my phone to document my travels through the "Day One" app

Jasmine's Story

As the child of immigrants, education was defined very early on in my life as a pathway to achieve greatness. At the beginning of my career, I taught sixth grade English and social studies in Philadelphia. Through my experiences as a teacher, I now understand that when we discuss education, we have to include conversations about the systemic issues (i.e. access to healthy food, affordable healthcare, and secure housing) that impact a student's ability to learn. In addition, I realized that we also need to provide educators with adequate professional development and support so that they can achieve significant outcomes while ensuring that they were equipped to deal with the trauma that students can bring into the classroom.

Through my current work as a management consultant, I help companies implement best practices to support the development of their people. My goal is to learn from companies in different industries and return to the education sector to help school districts create a positive culture and environment where teachers are equipped to help students learn to be their best.

I'm excited about my trip to Ghana with CommonBond and Pencils of Promise for two reasons: one professional, and one intensely personal. First, on the professional front, this trip will allow me to meet community members who truly understand how systemic issues impact a child's education. I also hope to meet and speak with administrators about how they provide professional support to their teachers. These conversations will undoubtedly impact my long-term goals in education.

Additionally, I'm excited about the trip for a personal reason as well. While I have lived in South Africa, I have never visited western Africa so I am excited about this opportunity. I have read countless accounts about the slave castles on the Cape Coast that were often the last place and memory that enslaved people had of their homelands before they were taken across the Atlantic. Memoirs like Lose Your Mother by Saidiya Hartman and the compelling novel Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi speak to the feelings of loss that many black people feel because there is no lineage that they can trace back to Africa. For descendants of enslaved people, the point of fissure in our history is something we must contend with and for many of us, it fuels our desire to return to the Motherland. While I am excited for this visit, I am also thinking deeply about what it means to return home. The chance to visit a country that was an integral part of the Atlantic slave trade holds significant meaning for me.

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