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University of Iowa News Release

May 26, 2006

Deadline June 8 To Register For West African Workshop For K-12 Teachers

As the first African country to gain independence from British colonialism in 1957, Ghana, along with the black star -- its national symbol -- became a source of inspiration and pride for other African independence movements as well as for African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. And as a nucleus of the slave trade, the West African country is central to African-American history.

In a workshop planned for Saturday, June 10, Edward Miner, University of Iowa International Studies bibliographer of the Africana collections, will explore the country's contemporary culture through a new interactive teaching tool that he will present to K-12 educators. Composed of photos, videos, books and authentic artifacts that he brought to Iowa from Ghana, the Akan Cultural Kit can be used to teach various aspects of indigenous cultures, including history, chieftaincy, religion and arts.

Originally planned for March, the workshop will be Saturday, June 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the African-American Historical Museum & Cultural Center of Iowa, 55 12th Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids. Thirty people can pre-register for the free workshop, and Afrika N'zungu will provide a free lunch of West African food. Interested individuals should call or e-mail Blythe Burkhardt, International Programs interim outreach coordinator, for a registration form before the June 8 deadline, at 319-335-3512 or at While the workshop is geared toward K-12 educators, interested members of the public can register as well.

The workshop will introduce K-12 teachers to the social and cultural complexity of contemporary Ghanaian life, which comprises both English-speaking aspects of a common history of British colonialism as well as indigenous local culture. Participants will watch sections of three videos, including: "Families of Ghana," which contrasts the daily routines of rural and urban Ghanaian families; "Arts of Ghana," touching on kente weaving, adinkra-stamping and talking drums; and lastly, "Healers of Ghana." Discussion will follow each viewing, and near the end of the workshop, Miner will demonstrate how to use the cultural kit in class or as a school exhibit.

A two-year traveling exhibit that centered on photos of religious and medical life in Takyiman, a town in central Ghana, is the foundation for the cultural kit. Through a State Department grant, Miner and Susan Kuecker of the African-American Historical Museum & Cultural Center of Iowa served as the exhibit's curators.

Taking the form of two large plastic bins -- packed with authentic items such as a linguist's gold-foiled staff, household drinking gourds, musical instruments and children's books about Ghanaian cooking -- the kit will be available for loan from University of Iowa International Programs Outreach Unit. It would allow educators to give kids a broad background on Ghana and Africa, and also introduce the culture of the Akan-speaking peoples, the largest ethnic bloc in Ghana, as a more specific example, Miner said.

International Programs and the IP's National Resource Center, the African-American Historical Museum & Cultural Center of Iowa, the UI Libraries and Humanities Iowa support this workshop.

UI International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean of international programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and the community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Center One, Suite 371, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Blythe Burkhardt, International Programs Interim Outreach Coordinator, 319-335-3512,; Writer: Erika Binegar