Western Accord 13
Ghana Armed Forces along with U.S. Army Africa sponsored personnel participate in Western Accord 13 in Accra, Ghana. The two week exercise partners U.S. military personnel with 13 African nation counterparts. (U.S. Army Africa photos)
July 5, 2013 — By Sgt. Tyler Sletten, North Dakota ARNG, 116th PAD
ACCRA, Ghana – While in Accra, Ghana for exercise Western Accord 2013, 1st Lt. Matt Nielson and “JJ” Fankhanel, 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, North Dakota National Guard, befriended Noble Kofi Nazzah, a local teacher who was a senior prom chaperone at the hotel where the Soldiers were staying.
Fankhanel works with special needs students at Pelican Rapids High School in Pelican Rapids, Minn., and Nielson teaches chemistry at Valley City High School in Valley City, N.D.
Nielson spoke for several hours with Noble, a two-year chemistry teacher at Roman Ridge Private School, and was eventually asked if he would like to visit the school and possibly teach a small lesson.
“I was thrilled when I was asked to visit,” Nielson said. “Initially I was concerned because my primary focus was the mission. However, Col. Gigi Wilz [141st MEB brigade commander] recognized what a great opportunity it was and ok’d the trip.”
While visiting, Maj. Gen. David A. Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota's adjutant general, expressed his interest and encouraged Nielson to visit the school.
When Nielson arrived at the shool, he was immediately greeted by the staff and noticed the difference in surroundings compared to his local North Dakota.
“I was overwhelmed with how different the school was physically than a North Dakota school,” Nielson said. “It was so open to elements; students eat outside and you travel around buildings rather than through them to get to class.”
Nielson met with Nazzah and was shown to the room where he would be meeting the students. He then explained his own excitement in having a guest teacher.
“I wanted my students to have the experience of meeting a U.S. teacher,” Nazzah said. It’s a good opportunity for my students and myself to see a different style of teaching.”
The Ghanaian chemistry teacher also expressed interest in partnering with Nielson online.
“It would be wonderful to exchange materials and science experiments with Matt, and mine with him,” Nazzah said. “I’d also like to have my students work with him via Facetime or other types of teleconferencing.”