The Lagim Tehi Tuma / Thinking Together

“So when all these things are merged, you see it creates some kind of balance that is very exciting to be part of. Because you are part of this, you are part of that and you try to see how you can combine these to make meaning . . .  and to create a very important aspect of life out of all this. So it is always exciting to come and experience this. I think the students learn a lot from the community, from their fellow students, from the UDS community and this is a cross-learning thing.” — Mahama Safianu, Founding Director and Internship Mentor, Dalun ICT Centre

What does Lagim Tehi Tuma mean and where does the name come from?

Lagim Tehi Tuma means “thinking together” in Dagbani, a language of Northern Ghana. The name was the idea of Mr. Alhassan Sumaila, LTT’s Local Coordinator, and expresses the key process and goal underlying the program.

How did the program begin and who was involved in its beginnings? 

The fellowship program began in 2013 following a 360 course cluster visit to Dalun and Titagya Schools, the program’s original partner in the area. Other internships have shifted in and out of the program since that time.

What year is the program in?

The program began in 2013 and is now in its 8th year.

How has the program developed since its origin?

In 2015, LTT began its partnership with the University of Development Studies. The number of UDS fellows participating in the program has increased and an orientation takes place at the University. Now in its 8th year, LTT is working towards becoming an NGO. In addition to this, the Black is Beautiful project has evolved tremendously since its start. 

What are the values behind the program’s mission and vision statements?

The program is rooted in an inquiry about the role of education (formal and informal) in creating, concealing, and challenging systems of power. Cultural knowledge exchange is the foundation for the internships, dialogues, and experiences LTT fosters and our mission/vision statements are rooted in respect for different forms and sources of knowledge. Our team practices reflexivity and continually reflects on how positionality impacts how knowledge is formed, shared, and understood. 

Where does the fellowship take place?

Lagim Tehi Tuma is a transnational collaborative fellowship. The program starts with a week of home study and continues with an intensive week of learning which includes a  short historical and cultural introduction on UDS campus in Tamale; before traveling north to the village of Dalun, where in addition to a suite of internships, language learning, and regular dialogues, we host  a University-Community Educational Stakeholders Forum with the University for Development Studies. 

Who is thinking together?

  • Dalun community members
  • LTT Fellows
  • Community Mentors, Teachers, Local Program Coordinator
  • Career and Civic Engagement Center at Bryn Mawr College, Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) at Haverford, and the President’s and Provost’s Offices
  • Stakeholders and Friends

What are the internships?

There are currently 5 internship sites. 

How long does the fellowship take place? How does the work extend past the summer?

The fellowship program takes place over the course of 10 weeks. Bi-Co students choose a course to take in the fall following the fellowship that will allow them to deepen and extend their summer learning.  Students also present their work in campus fora. LTT is currently working on how to engage UDS students and program mentors more systematically year-round. Ideas welcome.

Program Schedule

April: weekend CPGC retreat; begin forming team and academic framework

Weeks 1 : home study, with intensive writing and Skype exchange (mix of shared texts: Pierre’s The Predicament of Blackness and Hartman’s Lose Your Mother, selected films, and independently selected texts)

Week 2: Academic orientation  and residence at University of Development Studies in Tamale Ghana  for continued study, team building, planning

Weeks  3-10: Residence in Dalun for action research internships, Dagbani lessons and learning languages of music and dance; reflection and academic discussion sessions; joint projects and field trips; culminating writing/visual; assessments. Then last week, time is spent debriefing on program’s course. 

 Back on Campus (Fall Semester): Fellows Course selection to deepen and integrate summer learning . Participation in reflection and outreach work to other interested parties. 

In the below quote, 2018 fellow Rihana Oumer describes her time interning with Simili Radio and how this experience inspired her studies the following fall…

“This summer, I was a fellow at Simli, a community radio station located in Dalun, Ghana. This radio station focused on education, sanitation, bridging the gender gap, and providing cultural entertainment. I, along with two other Lagim Tehi Tuma fellows from the University for Development Studies Tamale (UDS), produced three programs a week. The best part was conducting action research to supplement our programs. Some days we walked to the towns and interviewed people. Other days, we would reach out to specific people to interview and/or bring them in as a guest. When conducting an interview, I had to listen, ask the right questions, and then work to represent their ideas. Working at the radio has enhanced my communication and research skills. At the end of our programs, people called in to ask questions and give comments, thus, on the spot, I had to give my opinions and be in productive conversations about sensitive topics. Dialogues were not limited to our internship sites. We talked about culture, language, “development”, colonialism, and education as it relates to current power structures. Having UDS fellows from all over Ghana made the conversation even more intricate as most of them were also new to Dalun, Ghana. Overall, this summer has substantiated for me the importance of history and community outreach work. I am currently taking Topics in African History with a concentration in Global Health. I want to continue to take classes that push me to think about the past and how it applies to my local community and beyond. ”

-Rihana Oumer BMC ’21

Thinking Together — a Summer Action Research Fellowship in Northern Ghana and Pennsylvania, USA