Ghana Trip to Study Tuberculosis: Day 14

by Kaila Helm, Biological Basis of Behavior ’20; Kathleen Givan, Bioengineering and Political Science ’20; Katharine Cocherl, Bioengineering ’20; Hope McMahon, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering ’18; and Dave Pontoriero, Biotechnology MS ’18

Ghana 14.1
A set of classrooms within the campus of Achinakrom Senior High School (ACHISS), a rural high school in Kumasi.

David Issadore, a faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania teaches an engineering course ENGR566 – Appropriate Point of Care Diagnostics. As part of this course, he and Miriam Wattenberger from CBE, have taken nine Penn students, most of them majoring in Bioengineering, to Kumasi, Ghana, to study the diagnosis of pediatric tuberculosis. While in Ghana, these students are blogging daily on their experiences.

Ghana 14.2
Dr. Miriam Wattenbarger tutoring a class on soil conservation.

Today was a day of reflection. To our great sadness, two of our fabulous leaders, Dr. Issadore and Dr. Ocek, left early this morning. We then split into teams to work on our projects for the remainder of the early afternoon. Given our newfound knowledge of the Ghanaian healthcare infrastructure and the standards of care for tuberculosis-related symptoms, our designs were altered to optimize their value. It was interesting to pull up our old classwork from Philly and realize how much it needed to be edited.

Ghana 14.3
Penn student Jason Grosz discusses the math curriculum with a teacher of Achinakrom Senior High School (ACHISS).

Following our intense project meetings, the group shared a lunch of ground nut soup and rice balls, one of our favorites. The advantage of cooking food ourselves is that we can tolerate the spice level and learn how to cook another delicious meal ourselves. We then left to do our community service at the rural high school we visited last week, Achinakrom Senior High School (ACHISS). Each APOC student led a class on a topic of interest to both him- or herself and the class. The focus of these classes spanned mathematics, science, and English. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the Ghanaian education system and talk to more of the students about their day-to-day lives, while exposing us to the problems faced with both cross-cultural communication and teaching.

Ghana 14.4
Penn student David Pontoriero tutoring a classroom filled with high school students attending Achinakrom Senior High School (ACHISS), a rural high school in Kumasi.

After returning home, we enjoyed a relaxing evening. One highlight was trying a traditional Ghanaian snack, mashed fante kenkey, which was prepared by our trip leader, Nana. (We love you Nana!) We ended the night with a group ab workout, a roundtable discussion, and yet another fun-filled team-bonding activity. It was a good day!

Ghana 14.5
A group of students studying French at Achinakrom Senior High School (ACHISS).