Yesterday, I met up with two students coming to do their minor field study (MFS) in Ghana.
MFS is almost an institution in Swedish academic circles. Since 1968, MFS is a stipend financed from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), administered by the International Programme Office for Education and Training (in Swedish: Internationalla Programkontoret) in collaboration with higher educational institutions in Sweden. The goal with the program is to expose young university students to life in developing countries and give them an experience of doing research there. The student has to propose a research plan and spend at least 8 weeks in the chosen field destination. The stipend covers travel expenses and a little more. Over the years more than 10 000 students have gone through the program. Recent theses coming out of the program since can be found in this MFS Thesis Database. Usually, the program is very popular and highly competitive.
Back to yesterday afternoon. I first took Emma and Ebba to eat some fufu and drink some bissap at Buka. We talked about everything from clinics to corruption, from surveys to soup, from PhD to perfect beaches. After washing our hands, we went around to do some errands, see some Ghanaian art and crafts and finished the day with a drink by the beach. I could see myself in them – the personal involvement in student activities, the interest in the foreign and exotic, the wonderful curiosity. I was impressed with their confidence and their future goals.
Emma and Ebba are not the first MFS students I take around Accra. They follow Emilie, Asa, Jessica and Ulrik – all MFS students who I have met in Ghana. To some I have been a contact person, an address to put on the VISA application, to others “Field Supervisor” and a discussion partner. I must say I enjoy spending time with them and gladly share what ever small knowledge on research I possess as well as my own experiences in this green country.
Ironically, my own MFS application was not approved when I was studying for my Bachelor’s Degree. But that is another story.