Dr. Tonya Walls, an Assistant Professor in the Touro University Nevada School of Education, recently spent 12 days in Ghana for an academic sojourn of Black women scholars, an experience she described as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“Writing is one of the ways I express myself, both personally and professionally,” she said. “This trip opened up an opportunity for me to do both. As a result, we wrote, wrote, and wrote more.”
The ‘Writing Our Lives’ Ghana experience was sponsored by Dr. Cynthia Dillard, an Education Professor from the University of Georgia. Dr. Dillard and her husband Henry, a native Ghanaian, founded a school in Mpseaum, a rural Ghanaian village. Visiting the school was also a part of Dr. Walls’ experience. In addition to Walls, the sojourn was attended by women from Nevada, Georgia, and Massachusetts.
Emphasizing writing about what it meant as a Black woman to return to one’s ancestral roots gave Walls and her cohort an opportunity to visit numerous historical sites across the country. Walls learned more about the transatlantic slave trade by visiting the W.E.B. DuBois Museum, the Cape Coast and Elmina slave dungeons, and Liberation Square.
She also visited Dillard’s school where she learned more about schooling and public education for Black children across different continents, including access and functionality.
When she wasn’t spending time at the children’s school or learning more about her ancestral roots, Walls could be found writing about her time in Ghana. She described the trip as a cathartic experience that helped her understand more about her Black womanhood as well as education in a region of the world that features nearly 100 different languages and dialects.
“To have had this opportunity to be mentored by scholars with a great amount of experience in academic writing, and to do it with women I share an ancestral history with…it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.