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Green, Orange, Red—the Colors of Ghana

Ghana left a lasting impression of color, joy, and friendship for Lang scholar Tamara De Moor ’10.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the Lang Center or the opportunities presented to me by Swarthmore,” she says. “They offered me a chance to study in a country that changed my life.”

As a Japanese and art history major, she co-created her Lang Opportunity Scholarship— developing a textile design program for unemployed Ghanaian women—with Sharon Friedler, former Stephen Lang Professor of Dance, and Nii Yartey, director of the Noyam African Dance Institute.

DeMoor and her local partners helped identify 10 women to learn business skills and traditional Ghanaian textile dyeing techniques, including batik and tie-and-dye art.

From her “new” extended family, De Moor says she learned forgiveness, patience, and love ... “as well as to balance work with fun, laughs, music, and lots and lots and lots of spontaneous dancing. I learned the deep giving and kindness of ‘strangers,’ who treated me like their own.”

Most of De Moor’s Lang scholarship took place during Ghana’s rainy season.

“The plants were alive and more—and often they would scratch the side of the van—or poke through the windows if we were lucky enough to have the windows rolled down to feel the breeze,” she says. “Ghana was saturated with green.”

For De Moor, Ghana also reflected other hues.

“Orange—or rather, burnt red—is the color of Ghana. The dirt is so densely rich, so reddish. It paints the landscape. There was something so uniquely empowering about the color,” she says. “I would often walk to and from my classes at school, and return covered in red dust. The air smelled of it, it was in the exhaust, and nothing remained white for long.  I loved to breathe it in, as ‘unhealthy’ as that may be, because I felt like I was literally breathing in Ghana.”

Though she arrived intending to help others, De Moor realized that ultimately the women—and the country—gave her so much more.

“I gained maturity, love, and self-acceptance,” she says. “I left a bit of myself there and carried home the country’s most precious resources: unconditional love for strangers, joy, and authentic smiles.”