Chelsea Akyeampong

Photo Credit: Chelsea Akyeampong
Mon, 08/12/2019 - 13:39

Major: Global Studies and Political Science
Minors: French, African Studies, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs
Hometown: Omaha, NE

Akyeampong presented her UCARE research with Dr. Jeannette Jones titled: "To Enter Africa from America: U.S. Empire, Race and the African Question 1847-1919."

On the research:

"Last school year, I focused on transcribing, translating, and encoding government documents from French to English in which they came from the US State Department, or archives from France and Belgium. This summer I have been focusing on actively researching consular and commercial agents stationed in the then different African colonies while now I focus on locating missionaries and their stations on the continent.

"I chose to help Dr. Jones with her research because her project discusses an important part of history, African and American history that many do not know about nor add much significance to when it comes to current world affairs. I also wanted to gain some experience in using my French since I don’t often use it in everyday conversations.

"I think the significance of this research is that the US played a part in the partition of Africa during the Scramble for Africa at the 1884 Berlin Conference that established European colonialism on the African continent. It is from this point in history that many of the political affairs in Africa stem from and it must be acknowledged that the US had a part in it just as in today’s Africa where we witness a different kind of Scramble for Africa of which the major players are the US, China, and maybe even Russia whom all strive for some time of influence over the continent, whether it be political, economic, social, or even all combined. I think people should care about this because many of the events occurring in the international arena return back to the domestic front in which we see them played out in American policies and legislation that can directly affect us.

"I realized that the US established a presence on the African continent through trade as commercial agents and diplomatic relations with the various consulates and their agencies. This means that the US has been involved in Africa more than I had thought. Previously, I thought it was only in contemporary times beginning post-World War II that the US began taking an interest in Africa but the data shows that the US has taken an interest in the continent since the beginning of colonization and European domination."

Why she chose her global studies major:

"I chose Global studies because I am very interested in international affairs especially how the international political system controls aid and development to developing countries in particularly, Africa. I wanted to broaden my scope and sense of community, so I chose to focus on Africa since it plays a big role in my heritage. I think this major is essential in understanding the world we live in today.

"In fall of 2016, I took Social Justice and Human Rights in the Media, that advocated for those chained by contemporary slavery and subjected to inhumane treatment by human traffickers. I am especially concerned with the detrimental effects of human/sex trafficking and contemporary slavery in Africa in which we must address this problem. I took a political science course called National to Human Security, in which I gained more knowledge on the international community’s commitment in providing protection to the world’s most vulnerable victims. This led me to commit to joining coalitions that closely identify with my aspirations of protecting these individuals that the world has seemed to ignore since most of the attention is on parts of the world other than Africa.

"I [took a] political science class called, Immigration in Politics which seeks to understand concepts and theories of historical and contemporary immigration patterns. However, this class mainly focuses on immigration patterns and characteristics within American and barely mentions anything about Africans and their contribution to this concept. This [led] me to seek more hands-on opportunities such as this program in which Africa and its people are the main focus of my studies."

On studying abroad:

"Fall of 2018, I [studied] in Cameroon, Africa with the School for International Training (SIT) in which are studies are focused on development, modernization, and social change in Africa’s countries, particularly within the Cameroonian context. I [hadn't] been to Africa since 2003 which was when I travelled to Ghana as a five year old. I will have to say, Africa is not like America and you can immediately tell once you get off the plane. I remember, when we were in the car driving to the monastery which was where we were staying for a few days during orientation, and I honestly thought we were going to get into an accident because of the way the driver was driving. In Paris, it was the same way and my catch phrase over there was “C’est la mort!” because you could die if you’re not careful crossing the street and it’s the same over here in Cameroon. 

"Within just one month of being here, we [had] covered so many topics like a couple of weeks ago, we were studying Civil Society Organizations in which we met with NGOs explaining how they contribute to Cameroon’s development either through promoting women’s rights or through advocacy. We travelled to a town near the ocean in the Southern part of Cameroon called Kribi, in which we visited some indigenous groups’ village called the Bagyeli and learned about how their rights are being abused by a number of factors. Our residence where we stayed at was on the edge of the ocean so we had plenty of access to the beach in which you will see in my photos. I will have to say the food is a lot more flavorful than in Paris and every time I go to lunch, samosas and ramen noodles are my go to comfort food. I have made so many friends and our personalities go so well together that we may have to have our own reality show because everyday there’s something else to add to our story in Cameroon. So stay tuned!"

On post-graduation plans:

"After graduation, I would like to enter into an internship that will provide me with tools needed in future world leadership positions such as working for the US State Department under the Secretary for African Affairs in establishing effective relations between African countries and the United States or work for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees(UNHCR) in improving conditions for refugees and establishing policies and legislation that address the significance of the detrimental uncertainty and vulnerability that stateless persons face. While working for the federal government, I will enter law school where I would like to study international and human rights law. My career path will involve drafting international legislation protecting the security of those most vulnerable to human rights violations. My goal is to follow in the footsteps of Amal Clooney!"