From Chicago to Chorkor: US students travel to Ghana to teach and play chess
With passports and chessboards in hand, six Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students have traveled 6,000 miles to Chorkor, a small fishing community in Accra, Ghana.
There, they will teach and play chess and learn about local culture from the experts: Ghanaian students.
Sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, this trip is designed to promote cross-cultural understanding for urban youth in both countries and to expose youth to the power of citizen diplomacy.
“Chess is a universal language, spoken by people from all walks of life through the centuries,” said Matthew Kearney, Executive Director of the Chicago Chess Foundation. “This international trip demonstrates how chess has the power to break down barriers—including geography, religion, race, and gender—to unite people.”
The students are a part of the Ghana-Chicago Chess Exchange, a partnership that started online during the pandemic as a way to create cross-cultural relationships between students in Ghana and Chicago. Over the past two years, the teens have participated in virtual meet-ups to play chess and have conversations about their lives and cultures.
– Advertisement –
The visiting Chicago students are from the Austin, Belmont Cragin, Edgewater, Gage Park, Jefferson Park, and Norwood Park neighborhoods. To broaden the visit’s reach, additional Chicago students will participate in online chess and cultural activities with Ghana students during the trip. The Chicagoans have prepared an itinerary of chess learning and competition for the Ghana students during their week-long visit.
In addition to chess, the Ghana students will learn about U.S. history and play American football. They will host a free street chess festival to give local adults and children the chance to learn and play chess, as well.
“All of the students are excited to meet and talk with their new friends from Chicago and learn how to become more competitive chess players,” said Patricia Wilkins, founder and Executive Director of BASICS, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit in the US and a recognized non-government organization (NGO) in Ghana.
“They are also eager to show off the beauty, culture, and history of Ghana to our visitors.” The hosts in Ghana will prepare cultural visits to areas of Ghana, including the capital city of Accra and Cape Coast, which is known for its dark history of transatlantic slave trading. Chicago students will learn about African drumming and screen printing.
“I am really excited to visit Ghana and share my passion for chess with the students and community in Chorkor,” said CPS student Jack Heller, 16, a U.S. Chess Federation-titled Expert and one of Chicago’s top chess players.” “I may be going there as a chess teacher, but I am definitely a beginner student when it comes to Ghana culture and history. I think this will be a life-changing trip for me.”
How Basics International is lifting Ghanaian women out of poverty