Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | News | Local News | Contact Us | Home RSS

WORLD FOCUS: An adventure in Ghana

November 23, 2017
By FRANK SHATZ , Lake Placid News

Samantha Boateng is a sophomore at the College of William and Mary. She is majoring in English and history and hopes to work in international development with focus on education.

In 2016, she was chosen as one of Her Campus' Under 22 Most Influential College Women. Samantha founded Read 2 Lead, a nonprofit organization with the mission to breed the next generation of leaders through reading. Last year, she led a team to collect and organize more than 14,000 books that were shipped to Ghana.

Read 2 Lead has opened two libraries in the past two years and a third one is on the way. Along with libraries, Read 2 Lead also hosts academic competitions for schools in the community, fun fairs and other literacy programs.

"My parents are immigrants from Ghana to the U.S.," Boateng said in a recent interview with the Lake Placid News and the Virginia Gazette. "I was born and raised in northern Virginia. I first visited William & Mary when I was 8 years old. From that moment on, I was determined to attend one day William & Mary."

A few years ago, Boateng's mother went to Ghana to teach public speaking. After, coming back to the U.S., she told her daughter there was not a single public library in the communities she visited. She began collecting books and sent them to Ghana. First, a few, but within months she managed to collect thousands of books.

That was when Read 2 Lead officially began. The first library opened in June 2016 in Accra, the capital city. The second library was opened, this past summer, in the Ashanti Region, of Ghana.

Boateng became the 2017 recipient of the Concord Traveling Scholarship for Creative Writers at the college. This enabled her to travel to Ghana and learn more about her grandfather, a legendary figure. He was the manager of a big cocoa plantation who built a town for his workers.

Boateng, in her proposal for the scholarship, wrote, "His story intrigues me; it begins with the inspirational poor man who works hard to become rich, but it later begins to twist into much more. He had 17 children, 6 concubines, 1 wife, and conflicting identity that changed around different people. My family members have told me that he was kind, hostile, wise, selfish, and benevolent."

She started a library in the town his grandfather built. She visited his house in Kumasi, explored his diaries, notes and other papers.

"I learned that he was influential in Ghana not only as a businessman, but also as a philanthropist," Boateng said. "During his life, he built many schools for areas with no access to educational resources and donated large portion of his wealth to individuals and community organizations."

She also learned that her grandfather accumulated most of his wealth by the age of 25 and went to school only after he was already successful.

"Though he dealt with western culture and ideals as a wealthy businessman, Ashanti culture remained a prominent part of his life," Boateng said.

By learning more about Boateng's grandfather, she hopes to learn more about herself.

"As a Ghanaien-American, I have faced challenges in finding what identity I was supposed to claim," she said. "I am a Ghanaian, but I was born in the United States. In exploring my culture and history, I am hoping to establish my identity, and legacy my grandfather left me."

Frank Shatz's column was reprinted with permission from the Virginia Gazette. Shatz is a lake Placid seasonal resident. He is the author of "Reports from a Distant Place," a compilation of his selected columns.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web