Boba drum playing in Kopeyia, Ghana

Miles Arntzen (left) plays the boba drum accompanied by his instructor, Elike.

Over the years, one of the things I’ve loved most about leading the ThisWorldMusic/UMass Amherst Study in Africa program is getting to know the participants. Sure, studying African music and dance is a thrill, but it’s the people, not just the rhythms, that stick with me long after I’ve returned.

On the most recent winter study abroad trip in Ghana, West Africa, we had a seminary student from Indianapolis, Brent Walsh, who, as luck would have it, turned out to be a professional photographer. And who studies abroad in a place as visually stunning as Ghana without bringing along a camera?

Here are 5 highlights from Brent’s inspiring photos, each representing a different aspect of what it’s like to study in Africa.

African Drumming Classes

The main focus of the winter study abroad program is cultural training and immersion in the beautiful and culturally vibrant village of Kopeyia, located in the Volta Region of Ghana, Africa. The group lives and studies at the Dagbe Cultural Institute & Arts Centre, taking studio classes and private lessons in traditional African music and dance. This photo is of Miles Arntzen learning to play the boba drum for a style of Ghanaian dance music called Gahu.

African Dance Classes

In addition to taking African drumming classes, participants study traditional West African dance at the Dagbe Cultural Institute. At the end of our stay, we stage a performance of Gahu, a popular drum and dance piece of the Ewe tribe. Here’s the group just as we’re entering the dance performance area, wrapped in traditional Ghanaian cloth and grooving all the way!

Gahu African Dance at the Dagbe Centre in Ghana

The ThisWorldMusic/UMass Study in Africa group dancing Gahu in the village of Kopeyia, Ghana.

Traditional Drum Making

People from all over the world study in Africa, not only to learn West African music and dance, but also to learn craft making and other aspects of culture. Here’s Jahara carving a djembe in African drum making class.

Djembe making in Ghana, Africa

With the help of Master Drum Maker David Amoo, winter study abroad participant Jahara tries her hand at making a djembe drum.

Ghana National Dance Ensemble

After studying traditional African dance and culture so intensively, it’s helpful to give students the opportunity to watch and listen. Each time we study abroad in Ghana, we are fortunate enough to see the National Dance Ensemble perform a selection of African drumming and dance pieces from around the country. This photo shows the troupe performing music of the Ashanti people.

Performance at Ghana National Theatre in Accra

The Ghana National Dance Ensemble performing traditional music of the Ashanti people.

Soccer in Africa

Although very few people decide to study abroad to watch sports, the African continent is obsessed with soccer. As some Americans may recall, it was the Ghanaians that eliminated the U.S. Men’s team from the most recent World Cup!

Soccer match in Ghana, Africa

A soccer match between two club teams in Ghana’s Volta Region.

Want to learn more about how to study in Africa with ThisWorldMusic and earn academic or professional credit from UMass? For winter programs, go to: Winter Study Abroad. For the Ghana summer program, go to: Study in Africa.