Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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    • africa
    • ghana kids

Ghana Alternative Winter Break

  • 13-14 Ghana Alternative Winter Break students

The Program

The Ware Institute for Civic Engagement is pleased to offer this alternative winter break community-based learning trip. This is a joint project between Franklin & Marshall College, the Office of International Programs and the Heritage Academy in Ghana, West Africa. Through this program F&M students will gain exposure to global issues while helping the Heritage Academy students to find solutions to some local problems. 

In the spirit of community solidarity and engaged learning, Ware Institute programs have a strict conduct policy and are drug free.

*Dates and costs may be subject to change.

Program History

This alternative break program was initiated in 2011 by the Ware Institute. Kwesi Koomson ‘97, an alumnus of Franklin & Marshall College, dreamed of starting a school near his home village of Essiam in Ghana, West Africa. The Academy is a licensed and registered private educational institution in Ghana.

  • In 2004 Kwesi returned to Essiam and founded Heritage Academy (Pre-kindergarden - grade 9) in a small church starting with 32 students.
  • In 2006 Melissa Schoerke Koomson founded the Schoerke Foundation, which supports the Heritage Academy. 
  • In 2011 Heritage added a secondary school for grades 10-12 and school enrollment increased to over 1,200 students. The school has consistently scored 100% pass on the national exams in a district where the average pass rate is 42%.

Kwesi and Melissa Koomson currently teach at The Westtown School, near West Chester, PA

Program Leaders

  • Rachel Helwig, Assistant Dean for International & Off-Campus Study will travel with students. 
  • Lilah Thompson '11 will acompany students on this trip.
  • Kwesi Koomson ’97 has lead over 15 trips to the Heritage Academy since 2005. Mr. Koomson will assist the Ware Institute to prepare trip participants for their teaching assignments at Heritiage Academy and their time in Ghana.

When students arrive at Heritage Academy, they will be supervised by  trip coordinators, Lilah Thompson '11 and Rachel Helwig as well as directed by the Heritage Academy's headmaster, Mr. DeGraft Tawiaha.


Contact , Office of International programs, if you have questions about this alternative spring break.

*Dates and cost are based on 10 participants may be subject to change.

  • Kwesi & Melissa Koomson
  • Kweisi Koomson '97 and his wife Melissa Schoerke Koomson
  • Kwesi Koomson '97 had a dream to open a school in his home village in Ghana. In 2004, his dream was realized.

    In 2006, Melissa Schoerke Koomson started the Schoerke foundation, which supports the Heritage Academy.

    In 2011 Heritage added a secondary school for grades 10-12 and school enrollment increased to over 1,200 students. 

    Kwesi and Melissa currently teach at The Westtown School, near West Chester, PA