Hughes discusses studying, helping out abroad

PARKERSBURG – For the past six years, members of the Marietta Morning Rotary Club have joined with Marietta College students and staff to visit and help schools in the West African nation of Ghana.

Hilles Hughes, president of the Marietta club, spoke with the Parkersburg Rotary Club on Monday about the past three visits by local residents to Ghana and the plans being made to return in 2014 to continue providing assistance through a Rotary Global Grant Program.

Hughes said a statistic she personally finds saddening is that only 1 percent of U.S. college students study abroad while in school. As a student herself, Hughes said she visited Ghana as part of a study-abroad program and the experience changed her life. It also led to her involvement in the program involving Marietta College, which is called the Ghana Rural Education Enhancement program.

For the past six years, the Marietta Morning Rotary and Marietta College have been working with a Rotary Club in Ghana on the project, which sends faculty, staff and students and Rotary members to help enhance rural education in Ghana, she said.

The project has focused on providing computers and technology and providing training in those to students and teachers at several rural schools in Ghana. The project has provided rebuilt and new computers and other types of technology for use in classrooms at several rural schools.

During the three trips undertaken over the past six years, Hughes said the program has focused on training teachers and installing computers. The students from Marietta College have helped by teaching classes to lessen disruption while the teachers learn new skills.

For the next trip in May 2014, the project will focus on facilities improvement, technology enhancement through new computers and training and on vocational enhancements to help students find employment when they leave school, she said. The third goal is an outgrowth of her own work as Director of Career Services at Marietta College, she said.

Hughes said the Rotary clubs and college are seeking support through monetary donations, donations of computers, software and printers and participation in future fundraising efforts. Along with Marietta Morning Rotary, Hughes said the Marietta Noon Rotary Club has become involved in fundraising and support for the project.

Parkersburg club members can become involved individually and on a club level in the efforts, she said.