Attending Church in Ghana

I’ve been waiting a while to post this since we attended church on Sunday. The line to use the internet is always long, but I finally found a time when the computer was free!

On Sunday we went to a Ghanian church which was an interesting and cultural experience. Let’s just say church here is nothing like the church I attend in the U.S. There’s a lot more movement and singing and dancing. The church began with a lecture from the Bible. They were speaking in Fanti, which is the language mostly spoken in this area, but we had a translator who was translating everything said to us. Continue reading “Attending Church in Ghana”

All Tuckered Out

It’s been a crazy few days. Our schedules are almost as packed as they are at Westtown. We go from reading periods to classes to home to service to home again. I couldn’t be more exhausted. On the other hand, I am having such a good time. I feel like I’m really making the most of my time here. I’ve gotten to know some of the kids pretty well and I can’t think about leaving here and not being able to see them every day. I think that another visit to Ghana will have to be in my future.. Hopefully my parents won’t mind… Mom and Dad?

We went to the market again yesterday, and spent our time walking around observing the lives of the shop-keepers and children selling small things from their heads. The highlight of the visit to the market was when Heather and I spotted a woman selling plantain chips. We bought two bags to start with, then ended up calling the woman to the van’s window to buy five more bags. When all the other people selling things saw that we were buying the plantain chips, they surrounded the car. Within all of these people was a boy who thought that a marriage proposal was necessary, but my friend shut that down fairly quickly.

Teaching was pretty hard today. Keeping the younger kids quiet is a full-time job in itself. I had to pull one of the kids out from his seat and sit him in a corner in the front of the room. Hopefully it will be a bit easier tomorrow.

I can’t wait for this weekend. On Friday we are going dancing again and on Saturday we are going hiking, but I’m most excited for Sunday when we will go to the beach again. Hopefully I’ll get a tan 🙂

Ghana day 11

Today was hot. That pretty much sums up the morning. I started reading The Magic Treehouse with a group of sixth graders, which was exciting, but I ended the school day sweating and exhausted as we walked back to the house from school. Afterwards, we went back to do our community project: making bricks. (I call it making bricks but according to Kwesi it is really building a house.)

The brick-making process involves a lot of what seems like moving a huge pile of dirt. Then moving it again. Then spreading the pile out. Then piling it back up again and moving it a few more feet to the left. Somewhere in between these moves we add a bag of cement and a few buckets of water to make a mixture of wet dirt/cement. This gets packed into a mold, put on the ground in a row and left to dry. It’s hard to see much difference, such as walls and a roof rising off the ground, but seeing thirty blocks in neat rows on the ground sure does give me a sense of accomplishment. This is how the new classroom building was started, and that won’t be falling down anytime soon.

Until next time,

Laura

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s been just over a week since  our group arrived here in Ghana.  I keep thinking about blogging, but honestly I don’t know what to write.  If only blogging was a thing ten years ago when Kwesi and I lived here and everything was new to me.  I wonder how my experience would have been knowing what we know now.  For one, I would know the foods I like, or don’t.  Kwesi and I look back on that year with a smile and laugh.  Don’t get me wrong, it was H-A-R-D, but we’re able to look back at it now and feel accomplished. Continue reading “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Ghana day 10

Once again, the blogging computer has been in short supply, but here goes:

We’ve settled into a routine now in Ghana. We wake up and eat a relaxed breakfast of bread slices with pancakes, oatmeal, or toast in the living room. Any time between 8 and 8:30 the Heritage bus comes to pick us up and take us to school. For the first three periods of school I am in the library helping kids read. There is one boy, Michael, who I’ve been working a lot with. He is in 7th grade, but is much older than the rest of the boys in his class and can’t get through a page of Cat in the Hat without help. I have to shoo his friends away to stop them from whispering the answers in his ear, and I wonder what will happen when I’m not there. Continue reading “Ghana day 10”

Teach, Eat, Sleep

Hi guys!

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while. We just got internet recently and we only have a limited amount of time we can use it for. So much has happened since I arrived in Ghana. I don’t think I can fully summarize everything I have experienced but I’m going to at least try. Teaching has been fun. It started off as a struggle because we have about 30 kids in each of our classes, which is a large amount to keep fully engaged and under control for 50 minutes. I was upset at first because I felt like I wasn’t engaging all of the kids enough but then we had a discussion with our group leader about the purpose of this trip and I realized that the purpose is not to have an effective lesson every time or to have every kid engaged at all times. The purpose of us teaching Kwesi said is for the students to understand that even if we look different or act differently than them we are all human which makes us all the same. These kids are not used to seeing foreigners and they look at us like we’re aliens a lot of the time. So the purpose of us teaching is to help the kids be comfortable with us and realize that we are all the same. So there’s no reason to look at us differently.

That said, teaching my classes has still been a lot harder than I anticipated. I manage to somehow use all 50 minutes each time. (Colored pencils always help time fly faster.) I realized that they love learning new games so I have been trying to teach them American hand-clapping games because even though I’m teaching choir these games help teach them about rhythm. I try to connect the class. I tried playing some American pop music for them too but  they said they needed “faster music” to dance to. I guess our music doesn’t have a good enough beat to shake to.

The food here has been great. I’ve tried everything that we have been served and I’ve loved it all. My love for rice has been reestablished because we have rice with every meal and it is delicious. The fruit here is also incredible. The mango is indescribably good and so is the pineapple. When I return to the U.S. I won’t be able to look at fruit or rice the same way.

The last thing I want to talk about is being not just a minority but a spectacle. You may have read from some of the previous posts that people refer to us as “obroni” which means foreigner (or,a lot of times, “white person”). The people here are very blunt and will call you what you are. It’s not meant to be offensive. It’s just the name they use to call us. It gets frustrating a lot of times being an obroni here though because you might be walking through the market and a little child or maybe even an older person will stop in their tracks to literally just stare at you. It makes you feel very self-conscious and almost like there is something wrong with you. My entire life I’ve lived places where I was the majority and for once I understand what it’s like to be the minority. I know it’s not meant to be hurtful but I hate being treated differently or looked at differently because of the color of my skin. I hate when kids stop and point and yell “Obroni!” I’m beginning to just deal with it but it’s a constant reminder that I will never fit in here. I love the culture here, though, and the people are all very nice and friendly.

I think I’ve written enough for now. I will share more later when I get the time. I’m not really sure when that is going to be, but stick with me!

Until next time!

~Arielle

Beach Day!

March 8, 2014

I woke up at 7 after a long night hanging out with the people on the trip. Needless to say I was tired, but I was so excited for the day. It was beach day. We piled into the van, broke out our bracelet making materials and cameras, and started the bumpy hour and a half long drive. The first thing on our agenda was visting an old slave castle (old as in over 500 years old). As we got out of the van men rushed us, asking where we were from and our names. Luckily our group leader had warned us about these men. They ask you for your name and when you come back from visiting the castle they hand you a shell with your name written (in sharpie) on them and demand money.

The slave castle was beautiful while being extremely depressing. There were however multiple gift shops along the tour to brighten the mood. After seeing increbile views of the ocean we were finally done with the tour and dumped in front of several small shops. The women sang to us to come inside, desperate for us to look around. I brought a few souvenirs to bring back home. Some members of the group scored knives and paintings, but I kept it simple.

We left the slave castle and started the drive to a beach resort. When we got there we went straight to a table and ordered lunch. It was a perfect scene. We ate looking out over the ocean and palm trees surrounded our cabana. After waiting quite a while, we got out food and fresh pineapple juice. After lunch, we hit the pool and free wifi. It couldn’t have gotten better, but it did.

When we were finished the pool we headed to the beach, towels and sunglasses in hand. We picked our spot and “tanned” for th next few hours. Most of us ended up falling asleep and didn’t rotate properly. We walked down to the water and let the waves hit our ankles. The water was the perfect temperature.

Our time at the beach came to a close so we changed back into our clothes and walked back to the van. The ride home was exciting. Our driver sped through the small towns, just missing the pedestrians. When we hit traffic, he drove in the wrong lane until an approaching car started coming towards us. Much to our surprise, instead of trying to get back in the proper lane, he moved to the shoulder. Finally he decided to take a shortcut, but once we came back to the main road, there was more traffic. We got to it’s source: a funeral. Funerls are a little but different here. Instead of a somber service, they throw a party featuring loud music and teenagers lighting aerosol on fire.

When we got past the funeral we kept driving. Right into a storm. The sky got incredibly dark and the driver sped up, trying to beat the rain, ignoring the numerous potholes in the road. By this time, our sunburns had set in, and many of us were talking about how much pain we’d be in tomorrow. I sat with my arm out the window until a tree branch hit the car and almost decapitated me. The rain started and we closed the windows. When we got home the ten foot dash to the house from the car left most of us soaking wet. We had dinner and hung out for a while.

After regaining most of our energy, some of us decided to walk to town to dance and get sodas. When we got there we discovered that dancing day was Friday, so we had our own party. After about an hour we walked back and hung around the house playing games until we went to bed. Church tomorrow!

The full Ghanain experience

ImageHey guys!,

I am so sorry that I have not been able to get on here and blog more often. We have been having so much fun in Ghana, and have been pretty busy. It is very hot here. I hope you are enjoyiong the cold weather at home 🙂

Yesterday we drove an hour and a half to go to Cape Coast. We explored the slave castles and gladly lounged at the beach/resort. The resort was so nice. We ate a serene lunch along the ocean. We then sat by the pool and swam for hours.

This morning, we went to a Catholic church service. It was extremely different than the masses I am used to back in the states. It involves a lot of dancing and shouting. It was a very interesting experience to see how others worship.

The trip so far has been everything that people said it was going to be; life changing. The students in Heritage Academy have all been so welcoming and happy to see us. Although I miss home, I am having a blast here in Ghana. It is the trip of a lifetime. I have been keeping a journal every night with things we are doing. It would be a little challenging to upload them all onto here; but I can tell you that we are very much so enjoying ourselves, and we will fill you in on everything when we get back home.

I will see all of you in a week or so!

Bye!

 

Obroni’s Arrive in Ghana

We have internet!

My first week in Ghana has been amazing. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but Ghana has welcomed me, suprised me, and taught me about myself and the world I am in. I was nervous to start teaching but have found it to be amazing (I will upload more about that later!). I have kept my blog in my journal so I can just pop it up on here as I get the time (I have to type it up and there is always a line for the computer so I can’t do it all at once).

Arrival

The plain ride was long and cramped but we all forgot about it as we stepped off the plane onto the hot asphalt of the runway (no more snow!!). The excitment was gone quick. A hot cramped shed awaited us as we took the long walk through customs, each lugging two suitcases (one of donations). Following customs we had our joyous reunion with Kwesi and met Alaska, Heritages driver. Ghahna is hot and the cars are like ovens. Are spirits however could not be stiffeled as we experienced Ghana for the first time through the few hour drive to Heritage.

I just want to say a little about the roads before I get into what I saw out the window. In Ghana the unsaid rule of the road is that you can only drive once you have five more people than you can comfortably fit in the car. Seat belts dont exist and I have seen few cars without cracked windows and mix-matched parts (just to say they would not be allowed on the road in the states). And not to say we don’t have bad potholes but they are nothing compared to the roads here. Cars weeve in and out as they floor it around other cars and bad pavement. It is kinda fun, like a rollercoaster.

I was surprised at how underdeveloped everything was. I had expected the city to look a bit more like a city, the main airport a bit more like an airport. Only a few unfinished highrises graced the air, the ground around them was littered with disorganized shacks. As we drove through the hectic streets I experienced the culture I would soon be immersed in through a window. I saw women with baskets on their heads, clothed in colorful patterned fabric. Men carrying pounds of fish through the market. What astounded me about Ghana was that there were so many children, they are everywhere. Six year olds with one year olds strapped to their backs, young boys playing pickup soccer in the street, girls selling to the cars carrying water pouches and plantain chips on their heads. Everything seemed so chaotic and young compared to my home. Children had a level of freedom and responsibility at age that I had never experienced in the United States.

As we got closer we drove through the villages that many of my students would be from. The villages had a main rode with small shacks that had stores in them facing outwards. Behind these spread out rows of makeshift shelters, roofs of old tin and sides of plywood or handmade brick, all leaning against eachother. Between them was a jumble of clothes lines, children playing or working about, and groups of adults vending, cooking, doing laundry, or simply sitting around.

The glimpses I have seen of this culture through the drive to the house have made me excited and nervous to experience a new way of life and to learn and teach. The poverty and filfth in Ghana is at a level I have never seen and experiencing it for the first time shocked me and humbled me. I hope I can build great relationships with these kids, learn about their culture, and help them throughout the next eighteen days and after.

Fanti word that I will be using: Obroni, it means traveler and is what the local call us white people.

6 March!

March 6

We got to sleep in until 8 this morning because there was no school. I rolled out of bed to find pancakes and delicious eggs waiting for me. After breakfast, we all got dressed and walked over to the marching grounds at the local education university. As we watched the military march, and kind of listers to the speech being made, we felt raindrops. It is currently the dry season here, but this rain cloud just couldn’t hold it in. As the students began to march, the rain came down harder, and the wind blew it into my body. The students continued to march while others ran for cover under trees and small tents. I embraced every second because I finally wasn’t on the verge of sweating just from standing around. When tree branches started falling we saw lightning, and decided to head home.

When we got to the house I changed into dry clothes and sat on the porch to watch some of the group play soccer with some of our students. The rain didn’t stop football. Everybody came in for PB and J’s for lunch. The living room was dark (the power was out and the sky was grey) so everybody decided it would be a good time to nap. We all fell asleep at some point somewhere in the house and woke up late I the afternoon. We spent the rest of our time playing card games and speaking with locals.

After dinner, we decided to go to town. The rain had finally stopped and there was nothing to do in the powerless house. Bright took us to Jimmycom (a local bar) and we danced outside with very insistent people. Everybody wanted to dance with the white people. In order to keep some of the older men away we lied about having boyfriends, but they taught us some dance moves anyways. After we had enough, we walked back to the house, reflecting on the day as we went. When we got home we settled for watching a tv episode and started a movie. Hopefully we will finish it tomorrow.