Ghana REU Students Relish Time In CReSIS, America


By Shawn Schaller
Summer 2011

Accra, Ghana is approximately 6,253 miles away from Lawrence, Kan. To put it in CReSIS terms, that’s roughly equivalent to a round trip from CReSIS headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas to Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland, and then some.

For Rockson Armaah and Ignatius Williams, this meant an 11.5 hour flight from Accra to Atlanta and a subsequent 1.3 hour flight from Atlanta to Kansas City. After a two-hour wait at the airport and an hour-long bus ride, the two Ghanaian students finally arrived in Lawrence, Kan.

Williams and Armaah, a senior and junior studying Oceanography and Fisheries, respectively, at the University of Ghana, made the long trip to the American Midwest to participate in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at CReSIS. The two students spent three weeks at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and four more weeks at Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, N.C.

Ignatius Williams

Ignatius Williams

Armaah said that originally, he and Williams were scheduled to receive their introduction to the program at Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, N.C. However, the final exam schedule at the University of Ghana in Accra delayed their departure and instead of stopping at ECSU for the program introduction, Armaah and Williams came straight to Lawrence. As with their lengthy flights and waits, the Ghanaian students simply took this unexpected change of plans in stride.

Rockson Armaah

Ignatius Williams

Staying in Hashinger Hall and working next to the other REU students, Williams said, led to a lot of quality extra-curricular learning experiences. Bowling, Worlds of Fun, and fine collegiate dormitory dining were but a few of the American cultural experiences that Williams and Armaah enjoyed as part of the program.

Then, after a three-week introduction to different remote sensing-related topics, Matlab software training, and Polycom conferences with Mr. Je’aime Powell, their program mentor, Williams and Armaah boarded a plane for North Carolina.

There, they were introduced personally to Powell, completed their personal websites, and undertook a remote sensing-based ground truth verification project. Mr. Powell helped them make the most of their free time in N.C. as well.

“Actually we got in these go-karts and raced,” Williams said, remembering Armaah and his first experiences with Powell, “so he was actually really fun!” Back at CReSIS, Williams said that Powell was flexible, fun, and easy to be with while working, too.

Armaah and Williams were extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with Powell and with CReSIS. Both said that they were able to significantly broaden their scope of knowledge in terms of remote sensing. For Williams, the opportunity to sharpen the specific skills he’ll use for his thesis was particularly important.

The Ghanaian students’ favorite parts of the program were the people. “We wish would come back to KU and say bye to our wonderful folks,” said Armaah.

Williams is already a step further. “I’m actually thinking about coming back,” Williams said, but next time it would be just “for fun.”