The Study Abroad Newsletter

Why the Future is Ours to Mold

Naneaikealaula Thomas

Environmental Science major
Semester at Sea

This past semester I had the privilege in participating the study abroad program called Semester at Sea, which brought me to 11 different countries over three short months. Sponsored by Colorado State University, this program allowed students to complete 12-15 credits of schooling while on ship and explore countries independently while in port. When reflecting on my favorite moments from the past semester, several memories come to mind. Within my top three, tobogganing down the hills along the Great Wall and having the opportunity to dancing hula during the ship’s culture night come to mind, but the moment that I’d like to share now comes from a small neighborhood in Accra, Ghana.

Tema, Ghana was our first port outside of Europe and my first introduction to the African continent. Pulling into port our ship was greeted by a group of Ghanaian performers, three male drummers and one female dancer clad in bright orange and green kente (interwoven fabric of the Akan ethnic group of West Ghana.) Not having made plans for the day, myself and my fellow UH Hilo study abroad companion, Cody Pacheco, stood on deck 6 of the ship admiring the dancers when a girl standing near to us turned, asked our names, where we were from, and if we wanted to join her and some of her friends for the day as neither of us had set plans.

Lilies of the Field Academy Agreeing to be travel companions for the day we set out on our adventure that would bring us together in friendship for the rest of the voyage to come and that brought us to the Lilies of the Field Academy.

We didn’t just happen upon this building but came to it through a lucky lunch decision. After wondering through the streets of Ghana’s capital, Accra, and testing our bargaining skills at the massive textiles market, we decided to eat at the nearest vegetarian restaurant with high ratings (for our stomach’s safety). This brought us to the quaint, family-owned restaurant, Asaase Pa, where we enjoyed delicious veggie infused rice dishes and later had the honor of being greeted by the restaurant owner, Alvin. It was an oasis amidst the dirt and heat.

After a brief conversation with the five of us as to who we were and why we were in Ghana together despite being from completely different backgrounds: Hawaiʻi, Armenia, Germany, and Uganda, he decided to leave his post and tour us around his city, and this is what led us to the Lilies of the Field Academy. At the request of my Armenian friend who asked if we could be so lucky as to see a traditional performance, our new friend Alvin made a few calls and next thing we knew we were loading up into two taxis and making our way down the tight, crowded streets we had navigated hours earlier.