Jane Yang, 2011, Chemical Engineering

Ashaiman, Ghana is a city slum of 250,000 located in the outskirts of Tema, Ghana, West Africa’s major port. A product of government neglect, Ashaiman used to be known as the “City of Nonsense,” a place rampant with armed robbers and other criminals. Today, however, Ashaiman is slowly improving. With the arrival of several banks, the city is entering the modern financial world. Its education system, however, is still lacking. In the summer of 2009, I went to Ashaiman with Engineers Without Borders on a Grand Challenges Internship to implement the first phase of construction of the Achieving Greater Heights Community Library. This library will be the only community library in all of Ashaiman. It will include not only over 3000 books in English, French, and Arabic, but also a computer lab of approximately 50 netbooks. In addition to overseeing the construction of the reinforced concrete substructure, I worked with students at the Evangelical Presbyterian Basic School each day in an after-school enrichment program. Additionally, I met with various political and religious leaders in the area to establish a network of support for the library. Finally, armed with a camcorder, microphone, tripod, and curiosity, I interviewed over 20 students, teachers, administrators, educational professionals, and general residents in Ashaiman over my seven-week stay. In total, I shot over 24 hours of footage. I am currently in the midst of editing this footage to create a documentary on education in Ashaiman. I hope to complete the editing process by February 2010.