Orange students to meet, learn from students in Ghana

Orange Superintendent of Schools Gerald Fitzhugh II

ORANGE, NJ — Orange is preparing to roll out an outreach program with Amistad Global Village Program and Oiada International. In a joint project involving Orange Mayor Dwayne D. Warren; Superintendent of Schools Gerald Fitzhugh II; and Sancha K. Gray, Kean University’s senior vice president for entrepreneurial education initiatives, Orange High School will host virtual meetings between OHS students and students in Ghana.

“The superintendent and I came together and determined that it would be a good thing for our city,” Warren said. “The city is collaborating in any way we can on our path from goodness to greatness.”

Warren described this as an incredible opportunity for the students, the parents and ultimately the entire city of Orange.

“This program is innovative and far-reaching for our students,” Warren said. “We both understand that an international view of education is important for our students, so we’re making it happen.”

Fitzhugh said this program will benefit students in both Orange and Ghana.

“The work will be ongoing and innovative, and we are excited about continuing that exploration,” Fitzhugh said. “The Amistad curriculum is mandatory in Orange public schools; other cities, like Asbury Park, have a program like this, so we are continuing this program in a similar fashion.”

Ghana’s connection to African Americans in terms of migration, as well as a shared history, makes it a great choice for the program, according to Warren.

“The history of Ghana in regard to the slave crossing makes it a significant choice to explore the relationship between Africa and the U.S.,” Warren said. “If you also look at the people who left America to go to places like Liberia in the back-to-Africa movement, Ghana is important in that way as well.”

The students can expect to gain a deeper understanding of not only Ghana, but the world as well, by learning about the history and current events in this African nation. Warren and Fitzhugh stressed that students will also learn about commonalities they share with their Ghanaian cohorts.

“Students will have the opportunity to ask questions of residents in a completely different place, why things are happening the way they are, and (ask themselves), ‘What would I do differently if I were in that space,’” Fitzhugh said. “They can talk about politics, but they can also talk about art, fashion, culture and lifestyle differences.”

“Students get to see themselves in their homeland and how they would live. But on a different level, most problems we face today connect to Africa,” Warren said. “If we want to solve problems, in the environment and in business, we need to talk about Africa. Developmentally, we can’t solve problems with natural resources and our environment without including Africa, so our kids will learn this firsthand.”

One of the goals of this program is to bring Ghana and the continent of Africa to a larger discussion in the minds of citizens and not to overlook the importance of the continent for the future.

“I think that Africa, the motherland, has been overlooked for centuries,” Warren said. “Programs like Amistad are helping to raise questions to all our students about the role that Africa plays in the world. Because of this, we are treating the continent with the respect it deserves on the global scale.”

The program began Tuesday, Jan. 3.