Hershey students gain global awareness in Ghana

Spring 2017

Seventeen high school students at Milton Hershey School (Pennsylvania) traveled to Ghana last summer for an international service-learning trip to elevate their global awareness and help them become better citizens. An ocean away, they formed a kinship with the Ghanaian people in part due to their shared connection to chocolate.

The students planted shade trees and cocoa seedlings on three farms, interacting with Ghanaian farmers and their families. They saw firsthand how the production of cocoa affects the entire country. In talking to Ghanaians, they grew to understand the country’s motto: “Ghana is cocoa and cocoa is Ghana.”

It’s something the students understand well because without chocolate, there would be no Milton Hershey School. Founded in 1909 by chocolate magnate Milton Hershey, MHS serves more than 2,000 students from lower income backgrounds by giving them access to all programs and services, including medical care, for free.

Through the school’s Multicultural and Global Education Program, students also have the opportunity to travel abroad through four types of international trips: service, educational, language immersion, and global summits. During the trips, students, experience different cultures, navigate new languages, and explore historic sites — all while developing a global perspective.

“The trip to Ghana, and those like it, empower students,” says MHS President Pete Gurt. “Students learned important lessons about civic responsibility, leadership, ethics, empathy, and collaboration. Through service-based learning, our students begin to create the global mindset they need to succeed in today’s global world and workforce.”

In Ghana, the students participated in the Hershey Company’s partnership with Project Peanut Butter by giving quilts sewn by MHS middle schoolers in a family and consumer science class, to Ghanaian mothers with malnourished children.

“Our students were truly drawn to the culture in Ghana. Many of the things we discussed and reflected upon had to do with the Ghanaians and their gentle and kind nature,” says Deanna Slamans, social and emotional learning curriculum supervisor. “In Ghana, time and energy were spent on people and not things. This concept has helped foster a greater sense of gratitude among the students who went to Ghana.”

“Traveling to another country changed my perspective,” says senior Gabby Elliott-Brault. “I learned how to talk to people from different backgrounds and how to truly understand another person’s culture. I hope to someday go back to Ghana and tell the people I met how much they changed my life.”