THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING was a welcome change from the biting winter cold that had Nana Ekua Egyirba Aggrey shivering as she walked to her classes and to meet her friends at Cro. However, it meant that Aggrey’s semester at Conn was nearing an end.
Aggrey is the first exchange student to spend a semester on campus from Conn’s partner school Ashesi University in Berekuso, Ghana. Conn student Chanté Morris ’20 spent the semester at Ashesi, bringing to fruition the first student exchange in the partnership between the two institutions, which was formalized in 2016.
Founded in 2002, Ashesi is considered among the top universities in Ghana. Its unique academic program is steeped in the liberal arts and sciences and is focused on helping students develop critical thinking, communications, technology, leadership, teamwork and innovation skills.
As a junior business major, Aggrey had the option of studying in France or at Conn—an easy choice for her.
“I wanted to experience American culture,” she said.
Aggrey enjoyed Spencer Pack’s “Financial Speculation and the Real Economy” course and Terry-Ann Craigie’s “Economics of the Family.” Most of her business courses at Ashesi focus on small businesses and the local economy, so learning about the American economy and macroeconomics was beneficial to her.
“Financial speculation is something I’m really interested in—talking about hedge funds, venture capital, tax havens,” she said. “The discussions were really practical and interesting and the students contributed a lot.”
In her free time, Aggrey was involved with Conn’s Peggotty Investment Club, Umoja and HerCampus, and she worked with the Center for the Critical Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Programs. She also enjoyed movie screenings in Cro, spending time with friends and listening to Afrobeats, hip-hop, reggae and religious hymns.
Aggrey has returned to Ghana for her senior year at Ashesi, after which she hopes to pursue an international career in finance. She is excited to be able to better connect with Ashesi’s international students—now having been an international student herself—and she hopes to see more exchanges between her two schools.
“At Ashesi, you don’t just meet Ghanaians, you meet people from eastern Africa, northern Africa, southern Africa, central Africa and other parts of western Africa. I think in the U.S., Africa is often viewed as homogeneous, but it’s not. People are surprised to learn that if I want to go to South Africa, I need a visa,” she said.
Her time at Conn, she said, fulfilled a dream of studying abroad.
“People can live their whole lives in Ghana and never even go to a neighboring country and experience the different cultures, foods and languages. It’s nice to see how people on the other side of the world are living.”