Dr. Jean Clarke-Mitchell ‘00, a member of the MCLA Foundation Board and Trustees Board, participated in a mentor-chaperoned service-learning trip to Accra, Ghana this summer with the Rites of Passage and Empowerment (R.O.P.E.) program. The program offers mentoring focused on affording students opportunities for academic, cultural, and traveling locally and internationally.
Dr. Clarke-Mitchell has been a senior mentor and engagement coordinator for R.O.P.E. for several years and helps facilitate service-learning trips as well as visits to colleges such as the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) for mentees. She is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Lesley University and served on boards for Rockfort Moving Forward, Western Massachusetts, Albany Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, and Massachusetts Women of Color Network, Inc.
In July a group of 24, including young female students of color and mentors among others, spent 10 days in Accra, Ghana where they visited the slave castles/dungeons, the museum and burial site of W. E. B. Du Bois, and the Good Shepherd Community School and Orphanage where the group provided books and other supplies brought from America.
“On one of the days, members of the group went shopping and bought much-needed supplies and games for the students. The experience was profound in many ways. Some of the students have never traveled abroad before or experienced that kind of poverty in the United States,” Dr. Clarke-Mitchell said. “Visiting the slaves’ quarters at Cape Coast and thinking of their experiences has been life-changing for me. I have a completely new appreciation and gratitude for my ancestors and in particular the females.”
The group spent three days at Good Shepherd where Dr. Clarke-Mitchell taught science and English lessons.
“The students at Good Shepherd lived with very few amenities in their houses and have very different living conditions than what the students in our group are used to,” she said.
R.O.P.E. and Good Shepherd plan to continue with collaborations to sponsor as many students there as possible. Dr. Clarke-Mitchell departed the school visit with the commitment to sponsor seven female students. She began her support of “her 7” by funding their project to get the school a bulletin board. She also has students who she sponsors from her hometown in Rockfort, Jamaica.
“That was the most exciting piece for me. I will follow them through their schooling as much as I can,” she said.
Dr. Clarke-Mitchell has participated in other R.O.P.E service-learning trips and has conducted groups in Durban, South Africa. She conducted presentations on healthy relationships and self-care in Jamaica. She continues to affect positive change by teaching social work full-time by continuing to develop effective social work practitioners.
R.O.P.E. was founded in 2010 by community activist, diversity trainer, and MCLA alumna and former board trustee, Dr. Shirley Edgerton.