Monday, March 31, 2014

GLOBASE Ghana: Post Trip Reflections

By Ellen Gartner Phillips, First-year MBA, Consulting

It’s been six years since I’ve had a spring break. This year I chose to spend mine with GLOBASE Ghana. GLOBASE was one of the many reasons I was excited to come to Kelley: the opportunity to travel to a new place and work on a client engagement in a developing economy during an MBA program is unique.

Having interviewed for trips back in the fall, our group of 26 students spent the first seven weeks of the spring semester getting to know our clients, the issues they were facing and a little bit about the Ghanaian culture.  The time flew.  Our student leadership team did a fantastic job of preparing us for the unexpected, which proved invaluable once we got to the capital city of Accra.  The first week was spent working on projects: asking even more questions, getting answers and confirming or disproving hypotheses we had made from afar.  We had struggled to feel confident that we could recommend a solution that would work within the Ghanaian system

Finally getting to see our company in action, it became clear that security concerns and operational issues would be the biggest hurdles in making our solution implementable. 

Me and children in Ghana
This year’s projects ranged from micro-finance institutions to artisans to agricultural organizations.  The first week of the trip culminated in presentations to the entire GLOBASE team and clients.  Having seen the progress that everyone made over the two-month process was incredibly rewarding.  I took great pride in the solutions everyone was able to recommend to their clients regardless of the challenges that everyone faced before being in country. Having spent such a significant amount of time on project work, it was hard to believe that that portion of the trip was over.

We then spent two days doing service work at schools and playing soccer with children that had been rescued from human trafficking. We tried to do Kelley proud, only losing 1-0.  It was easy to forget the reason these kids were at the school we visited, and humbling to play alongside them knowing they had been brought out of such terrible circumstances.

Our trip culminated in a stay at a beautiful resort where we all felt as though we were really on spring break.  We toured a couple coastal villages, helped fishermen pull in their nets and visited one of the few slave castles still preserved on the coast.

Kelleys all pulling together
Coming back to Bloomington, I expected more culture shock.  It feels good to be back. I will forever share a bond with our team over jollof rice, broken-down buses and bizarre movies played on long drives.  We’ve all grown out of our experiences in Ghana.  I’ve had people ask me if I got out of it what I expected, and I don’t know how to answer that.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  In thinking about it, I’ve received more than I could have imagined: life-long friends, a broadened perspective and appreciation for the beauty of the Ghanaian people and country. 


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