AU student premieres international documentary at URCA


Ellsworth was in Ghana for five weeks

By Glenn Battishill

Over the summer while many AU students spent their time working summer jobs or just hanging around, senior Meghan Ellsworth was spending her time interning at a television station… in Ghana, Africa.

“I knew I wanted to go international for my internship,” Ellsworth said. “I did the application and then started planning living in a third world country for five weeks. I basically shopped as if I was going on a camping trip.”

Ghana is a country in West Africa on it’s way to development. Ellsworth spent five weeks working in Ghana’s second most developed city, Cape Coast, as an intern for local TV station Coastal Television.

“It was a television station in the loosest sense of the word,” Ellsworth laughed.

“They had old equipment and I was the only one with decent equipment and editing capabilities.”

Coastal Television’s equipment was not the only issue Ellsworth faced.

“They were building a new station but until then they were broadcasting off of the top of a hill,” Ellsworth said. “We had to hike up a small mountain to get to it.”

While Ellsworth worked in Cape Coast she lived in the small village of Kwaprow in a house with other international students.

At first the differences in living conditions were jarring but it helped Ellsworth learn a valuable lesson.

“I learned to make the best out of any situation,” Ellsworth said. “It makes me appreciate what I have here at home.”

Ellsworth said she had to “shower” with a bucket of rainwater, sleep under a net to keep bugs off of her while she slept and drink purified water out of a sachet.

While working for Coastal Television, Ellsworth was paired with a Ghanaian named Edwin Coleman and they were tasked with producing a show that would highlight the positive qualities of the community.

The show was titled “Ya wa odze oye” which, when roughly translated from Fante (a local language) means “something good.” Coleman hosted the show while Ellsworth did all the camera and editing work.

Being in a somewhat crowded area made filming difficult for Ellsworth.

“I had to adapt to what I was shooting,” Ellsworth said. “It was always raining and it was always noisy.”

Ellsworth kept a travel blog update during her trip and wrote about the frustrating needs of the show.

“Edwin, the host, is definitely full of ideas, but making them come to life on camera is not easy. As I maneuvered backwards through tiny corridors trying to hold a camera steady and not crash into someone’s stall as I walked, I could only imagine what the footage was going to look like,” Ellsworth wrote.

In week two, Ellsworth’s computer hard drive died and left her and Edwin without a show to produce. It was out of this period that Ellsworth and Coleman decided to shoot a documentary about the education system in Ghana.

“Edwin had all the connections and contacts and I had the equipment,” Ellsworth said.

“When we had all of the footage we copied it and went to do separate documentaries. His documentary is more political and I think mine is more informative but that’s fine because we wanted to do different things with them.”

The Central Region of Ghana has the most schools out of all of its regions but also has a nearly 80 percent illiteracy rate. Coleman and Ellsworth traveled and spoke to many people, including tutors and students, about the poor conditions of the education system.

When Ellsworth returned home she spent tons of time in the Journalism and Digital Media department video-editing lab, piecing together her documentary.

March 27, Ellsworth presented her documentary at the third annual College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research and Creative Arts symposium.

The video discusses some of the big issues that face Ghana’s education system including poverty, poor parenting and material needs.

Ellsworth said that many schools in Ghana do not have lights and relay solely on natural light from windows to light the classrooms.

Another problem is that the bustle of the city makes outside noise a real distraction for students.

The documentary discusses that one of the biggest problems is that since Ghana is such a poor country, many families rely on their children for economic support, often expecting children to get jobs.

Tuition is free in Ghana’s public schools but students do have to pay other fees that include paying for books.

“Education is not free but it’s a right that every student should have,” Ellsworth says in her documentary.

Ellsworth considers the trip to be an adventure and a real learning experience but hopes that her documentary serves a better purpose.

“[I want this documentary] to raise awareness about what is going on in the education system in Ghana and to make people aware that there are children all over the world that aren’t getting the education that they deserve.”