Campus Director of Webster University, Christa Elsie Sanders-Bobtoya, took a turn on the inspiring, leadership and motivated Y Leadership Series as she shared her experiences in international education and submitted some guides to having a successful life journey.
Interviewed by Rev. Erskine, host of Y107.9 FM’s ‘Myd Morning Radio Show’, Christa Elsie Sanders-Bobtoya appreciated her many years of stay in Ghana, while disclosing her strong connection with Ghana since the moment she landed in the country’s soil in 1999 with her missionary father. She described her experience as an incredible journey.
“I love Ghana; in fact people now say I’m a Ghanaian and that I even deserve a medal for being in Ghana for 17 good years,” Christa Elise Sanders-Bobyota said amusingly.
“Ghana is definitely my home, my spiritual home and the place that I feel a sense of belonging. I actually first came to Ghana a long time in 1999 with my father who is a University Professor. He’s a preacher and professor of religion and also a Pan-Africanist. He’s always inspired me.
He loves Ghana and so he’s been bringing church members and students who are studying to be preachers, Christian counselors and the likes since 1993. So, I joined him on a trip in 1999 and I had a beautiful experience liaising Ghana with his students, and of course, as an African-American, the experience to the connection of home. I felt that from the moment I was at the ‘Door of no return’ at the Elmina castle,” she added.
Christa Elise Sanders-Bobyota indicated that the experience at the historic Elmina Castle impacted her life and she vowed to return to Ghana “not just as a traveller but to live here, work, and most importantly try to make an impact in my own way. That dream became a reality when I official moved here in 2004.”
According to the Director for the Webster University Campus, Ghana is her comfort zone since she would not have to experience the challenges an everyday African-American woman would suffer in the USA with regards to racism, police brutality and other forms of violence.
To her, Ghana breeds freedom, adding that: “And that’s what I feel the genuine Ghanaian is. I can finally breathe freedom and while breathing, I can also try to make an impact in the educational sector in some way and form.”
Surprisingly, Christa Elise Sanders-Bobyota indicated that not just did her father inspire her connection to Ghana, but her family’s history cemented her love. She disclosed that her grandmother schooled with the first President of the Republic, the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, while her ‘great-uncles’ taught Osagyefo during the same period.
Venturing into the discussion on her experience as an international educationist, she noted such jobs do not appear as easy as they sound. However, she attributed her psychological skillset has been one of the significant asserts that has helped her flourish in the field, especially with multi-cultural relations.
Christa also mentioned the relevance of exchange programmes to students, as she stated that such opportunities enable students to learn something outside their comfort zone. She described the study abroad programme as an investment for both students and the host nation. “It is also an opportunity for students to dialogue and exchange ideas with students from different places. There are a number of exchange programmes in Ghana and these students come as an investment to Ghana. They meet and exchange ideas with the faculty who are experts in their fields,” she noted.
Christa believes Ghana has a lot of brilliant students, and has also produced some bright leaders including Kofi Annan and Kwame Nkrumah as she mentions. However, the educational influencer reiterated that access to quality education is a deficit in Ghana’s educational system.
“I think the main issue is the access to quality education. I think it sometimes also has to do with the issue of the location of the schools. We don’t have access to resources and infrastructure. We know, especially during the Covid period, that we are moving for a future that is more of e-learning and virtual experience, so digital literacy is absolutely critical and I think that’s also an area where we should be paying attention to,” she pointed out.
She added that one of the challenges in Ghana’s educational system is the fact that it does not focus on problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Nonetheless, Christa Elise Sanders-Bobyota shared her excitement about the development of girl-child education during her 17 years stay in Ghana.
Christa further admonished Ghanaian students to focus beyond book-smart. She believes that to make all this possible, there has to be a focus on the careers of tomorrow. “Here we know that the important thing for the employer is the soft skills, interpersonal skills, being innovative, problem-solving skills, team work, taking initiatives and those kinds which are not necessarily taught in the university”, she said.
She also addressed that, Ghana should start paying attention to the Arts and Psychology, saying: “It is a viable possibility path for education, and we have to open our minds beyond the traditional professions, and see that we can create our own business with arts, and that is the direction that we really need to go in.”
Highlighting some cues on how youngsters could be successful, she urged the youth to be dedicated to a cause and work toward it. “Be encouraged, be inspired, be yourself, be focused, be determined, practise humility and practise integrity. All of these things are very important toward being successful, and I know that there is nothing that you can’t achieve”, she said.
Commenting after the interview, Programmes Manager for Y107.9FM, Eddy Blay Jr., noted, “I’m really glad we’ve been able to bring someone from the education sector not just in Ghana, but an expert in multi-cultural education. Having persons with such in-depth knowledge, yet open-minded and humble come through this platform to share their experiences makes me proud. Definitely our youth will take clues and some guidance from their narratives. We appreciate Christa Elise Sanders-Bobyota for her precious time today”.