BUCKHANNON – Representatives from Ghana toured Upshur County in anticipation of the 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands Championship this July in Buckhannon.
Buckhannon City Recorder and head of the WAMSB Organizing Committee attended the March 30 Upshur County Commission meeting to introduce the commissioners to two representatives from Ghana and discuss the upcoming event.
“We’re about three-and-a-half months away, and because of a lot of hard-working people in our community, I think we are just about ready to pull this event off,” Sanders said. “We have a wonderful infrastructure; we will have the most robust security program to implement for this event because of Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory, Homeland Security Director Steve Wykoff for Upshur County and JB Kimble from our fire department. Those three individuals have met extensively over the past several months to build this security system that will be implemented, and it’ll be given a test run during the West Virginia Strawberry Festival.”
Sanders said the community would start to see more information about the event in the weeks to come.
“We’re going to see a lot of activity over the next three-and-a-half months; rack cards are being produced that will end up all over the state promoting this event,” Sanders said. “We have 27 bands from 16 countries in play, and I say they’re in play because several of them still have to get into their embassies to complete their visa requests.”
Sanders introduced the commission to two representatives from the National Cadet Corps, Ghana, Nicholas Nii Tettey-Amarteifio and Evelyn Naa-Dei Thompson, who were in Upshur County scouting out Buckhannon ahead of the event, scheduled for July 17-24, 2023.
“We have two individuals that I’m going to officially introduce to you who traveled here from Ghana to Buckhannon, West Virginia, with a couple of goals in mind, and one was to inspect our facilities and have briefings from us to see if we were prepared to welcome not only their group but groups from around the world effectively,” Sanders said.
“I hope, and I believe we have achieved that,” Sanders added. “The other is to open relationships, culturally and educationally. Yesterday, we had an opportunity to sit down and have a wonderful meeting with Vice President John Waltz with West Virginia Wesleyan College and we also had an opportunity to meet with the administration at Buckhannon-Upshur high school, and they had a very wonderful conversation.”
Sanders said he hopes these conversations lead to student exchange programs.
“They talked extensively about having exchange student programs implemented between the universities in Ghana and West Virginia Wesleyan College,” Sanders said. “If we couldn’t work out a full school year, or even a semester, maybe the May term where there’s three weeks of extensive and intensive studies taking place is a possibility.”
Ghana Coordinator General Nicholas Nicholas Nii Tettey-Amarteifio said people kept asking why he was going to West Virginia.
“I’ve never been here before; this is my first time. I’ve been to the States before but not West Virginia and people kept asking, ‘why?,’” Tettey-Amarteifio said. “The moment they start asking ‘why’ simply means there are a lot of answers and a lot of questions. Let’s go there and find out, so like the three wise men in the Bible, but this time it is the two wise men, so let’s go find out what’s really here, and we are so happy that we came. It was not a wasted trip.”
He said everything they experienced in Upshur County exceeded their expectations.
“Everything has been beyond our imagination; the security briefing was beyond our imagination, and the accommodations were beyond our imagination,” Tettey-Amarteifio said. “Now we’ve seen it ourselves, and we are so grateful.”
Evelyn Naa-Dei Thompson, who serves as the chief accountant for Ghana Education Service, said the 19-hour trip was worth it.
“We were very much impressed; I had to travel about 19 hours to get here, and when I got here, I said ‘wow,’” Thompson said. “This is my first time. I’ve been to California, I’ve been to Illinois, I’ve been to Los Angeles. With West Virginia, I’ve never traveled such a tiring journey, but it’s worth it, too. We are very grateful, and we love what we see here; the hospitality is so amazing.”