Building Relationships: Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International Program Brings Group to Africa Featured

14 Aug 2019 Laurie Mundy Perrigin
Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International Student Delegation members (L to R): Ashton Anthony, Brandon Walton, Brianna Byrd, Jeramiah Lowther, and Claire Laubenthal visit Kesse Basahyia Senior High School in Ghana. Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International Student Delegation members (L to R): Ashton Anthony, Brandon Walton, Brianna Byrd, Jeramiah Lowther, and Claire Laubenthal visit Kesse Basahyia Senior High School in Ghana. Katherine Laubenthal and Lisa Keyes

Holy Spirit High School student Claire Laubenthal and her mother, Katherine, had the opportunity to travel to Ghana with the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International Delegation over the summer. There, they visited the cities of Sunyani and Techiman with a delegation of 12 adults and 5 students from the Tuscaloosa area 

Katherine Laubenthal says the goodwill tour was an incredibly unique opportunity. 

“I believe the most important aspect of our trip was experiencing the history and culture of Ghana first-hand.”  

The delegation, which included Tuscaloosa City Schools Executive Director Dr. Janet Sherrod, City Council members Sonya McKinstry and Raevan Howard, and Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson, visited the Municipal Assemblies of Sunyani and Techiman and met with city leaders, including Sunyani Municipal Chief Executive Justina Owusu-Banahene. They also visited several schools, including St. James Catholic Seminary, where they met with the rector, Father Alex Ansu Ebo.   

The TSCI program donated and installed computers in two schools and donated medical supplies to the Municipal Hospital in Sunyani.  

“Our visits to both public and private schools were enlightening, and the Ghanaians were very thankful for the generous TSCI donations of computers,” Katherine Laubenthal said. “We witnessed extremely difficult conditions at the municipal hospital and Ghana’s struggle to build and maintain basic infrastructure of roads and waste management.” 

Tuscaloosa City Schools Executive Director Dr. Janet Sherrod (center) with TSCI student delegates on the coast of Ghana.

The delegation also toured Elmina Castle, Slave River, and Ancestral Park, attended Mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Sunyani- West, visited the Sunyani police headquarters, W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Center, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park, the Mole National Forest, Kintampo Waterfalls, Kristo Buase Monestary, and the Boabeng Monkey Sanctuary.   

Laubenthal said the tours of Elmina Castle and Slave River were “life-changing events” for students and adults alike, as they re-learned the horrors and human tragedy of the slave trade. 

“It’s one thing to learn it a comfortable, air-conditioned classroom in the United States.  It’s an entirely different experience to walk the paths, visit the river, encounter the stagnant air of the dungeons, and look through the door of no return,” she said.  “Ghana’s current campaign ‘Celebrating 400 Years of African Resiliency’ is appropriately named.  Despite the horrors of years past, and the ongoing economic hardships most still face, Africans are strong, full of faith, joyful, and resilient.” 

Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International was formed in 1986. Since then, the organization has facilitated hundreds of partnerships through cultural, civic, and educational exchanges with sister cities Narashino, Japan, Schorndorf, Germany, and Sunyani-Techiman, Ghana.  

“Sister Cities programs have a profound effect on individuals and communities, quite literally bringing the world to one’s doorstep,” said Lisa Keyes, executive director of TSCI. “To experience another culture through the lens of peace, mutual respect, and understanding is impactful, positive, and as Katherine Laubenthal explains, ‘life-changing.’ Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International is a public, non-profit agency; we invite anyone interested in becoming involved as a delegate, host, or TSCI volunteer to join us.” 

To learn more about Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International, visit tuscaloosasistercities.wordpress.com. 

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

captcha 

Most Popular