Sooners will visit The Gambia to be immersed the country's culture.
OU students, alumni to travel to Africa
A group of OU students, alumni and others will take a trip to Africa this summer as part of a cultural immersion program.
Students can earn up to six hours of academic credit for the trip, sponsored by Motherland Travel and Tours, a consortium of college professors and students, said Kevin McPherson, adjunct instructor for African and African-American studies.
Travelers will visit The Gambia, a small nation on the west coast of Africa roughly twice the size of Delaware. The Gambia is home to 1.5 million people.
"While Africa is commonly touted by black Americans as the 'Motherland,' it is not until you set foot on the soil of the continent and see the clarity of the heavens from the east that you are able to experience the truest sense of belonging. A belonging that, as people of African descent, we have been robbed of for centuries," said Renata Darden, an OU alumna who visited The Gambia over spring break.
A group of 22 have signed up for the trip this year, which departs May 25 from Baltimore, Maryland. The visitors will spend five weeks learning about the history and culture of Africa, McPherson said.
Other attractions during the trip include visits to Kunta Kinte's village, which served as the inspiration for the movie, Roots, and Gorree Island, a major facility once used in the African slave trade. An estimated 20 million Africans may have passed through the island, which became known as the "point of no return."
The trip gives people a chance to live the life of the native people, McPherson said. The people have a remarkable sense of family and a tremendous work ethic, even though there are not many jobs, he said.
Popular media often portray Africa as an undesirable place, but the continent's shorelines, plant life and people are quite beautiful, McPherson said.
"The trip to The Gambia gives participants a chance to experience the beauty of Africa," McPherson said.
According to the CIA's World Factbook Web site, The Gambia's population is made up of several groups of indigenous peoples including Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Jola and Serahuli.
Most people in The Gambia speak at least two languages, McPherson said.
Anyone wanting to take part in the trip to The Gambia can call Kevin McPherson at (405) 590-4440 for more information.
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