Martin from Ghana with his host brother in Wisconsin, 2006

YES Students

Some students from Ghana are Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program scholarship winners. Click here to learn more about the YES Program.

Country Information

Ghana is one of the friendliest West African nations. While English is the official language, there are more than 52 native tongues and hundreds of dialects.

Most Ghanaians live in small villages where society is focused on family and community. Vibrant markets offer everything from fruits and clothes to hair braiding; and at night, there is music everywhere.


Hosting Martin was a life changing event for our family. Even though we had hosted several times before with AFS, we had never hosted a YES student. Martin grew up in the north of Ghana near the equator. His family, as well as his community, barely had enough money to buy necessities. He applied for the YES scholarship because he wanted to make a difference in his community in Africa. He has a special appreciation for the opportunity he was given to live with a family in the US. We were able to strategize with him about HOW he might apply what he learned to his life in Ghana. Now that he has returned, he is already affecting his community. He is teaching fellow students how to use the computer and how to apply the accounting principles he learned in his American school. When he left the US we knew his life would be changed forever. But Martin’s incentive to also “share” what he has learned with his own country and community has also had a transforming effect on us, his American family. We have also been given “new eyes to see” the world! The gratitude (and love!) goes both ways.

Dawn from Wisconsin, hosted Martin from Ghana in 2006

Lifestyle and Family

Ghana’s culture is strongly influenced by Europe but the country is striving to conserve and promote their African culture. Family make up varies from one ethnic group to another, some being matriarchal and other patriarchal. Ghanaians have a strong respect for elders as well and they often have a strong influence on family decisions, with individuals dismissing their own wants for the good of the family. Shopping for everything from fruit to haircuts in outdoor markets is common and homes range from large Victorian mansions to huts made of whatever materials are available, like palm fronds or mud.

Teen Life and Sports

Teen life is influenced mostly by a vibrant traditional culture which is still alive and well in urban as well as rural areas, and Western culture through T.V., movies and music. Kids in Ghana are outside often, playing sports, board games and cards. At night they are expected to help out in the home, watching siblings, cooking and cleaning.


Ghanaian families enjoy eating together. The diet consists mainly of yams, cassava, maize, plantains and rice. Fish is also common. Ghanaians enjoy hot and spicy foods. Tropical fruit and vegetables supplement the diet. The mainstays of Ghanaian cuisine are thick sauces, usually eaten with potatoes or rice. Fufu, the much-loved staple for most of West Africa, is a mashed ball made of cassava, yam, or plantain that has been cooked and pounded


Everyday dress in Ghana is neat, ironed and conservative. Light weight clothes are best for the heat, but women wear long skirts and men wear long pants. T-shirts and knee length shorts are also acceptable. Students are required to wear school uniforms.

Language and Religion

English is the official language of Ghana, reflecting years of British colonization. The local languages are rich in proverbs, the use of which is taken to be a sign of wisdom. Euphemisms are very common, especially about events connected with death.

Many of the major religions of the world are practiced in this country. About 68% of Ghanaians belong to a Christian denomination. The rest adhere to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism or one of various indigenous religions.

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