Monday, June 28, 2010

Football and June-Births

Has it really only been five days? For the so-called "slow pace" of life in Ghana, we sure have been moving fast. Here's a little bit of what I've been up to, though my remaining 39 mins of internet could never do the trip justice.

On Friday we visited the University of Ghana (Accra) to meet with lecturer Justice Bawole and establish a study abroad partnership between UG and GVSU. Justice was an amazing man, and the course that's been designed for next summer sounds like it will be a phenomenal experience for anyone interested. As currently stands, the course would feature two weeks of classwork on Ghanaian culture, sustainable development, and NGO implementation followed by five weeks of working directly with an NGO of your choosing somewhere in Ghana. The course would wrap up with a debrief and project in which students create an NGO to answer a problem they see as needing to be addressed in society and mock-apply for funding. If you are reading this (whether you've found me through the GV Honors College site or otherwise) I would HIGHLY recommend considering this for next summer. I'm not even being paid to say this, I swear (although if someone would like to, i will not complain).

The UG has about 20,000 students and has an atmosphere similar to Grand Valley. Everyone there was extremely welcoming, responsive, and helpful (we learned, after some confusion, that a "bathroom" is where you take a bath and a "toilet" is where you take care of business. Why are these Obruneis [white people] so desperate to take baths???) Speaking of bathing, we were very excited when we got moved to a room with an electric water heater... but the shower was still cold. Nice water pressure in this one though, we take what we can get.

We were unable to appear on Kennedy's television broadcast because we had a prior commitment in Winneba, a much smaller city a ways down to coast. We were supposed to travel by bus, but the wait was impossibly long and we were being constantly approached by individuals whose intentions we did not know. Kaleigh got the first marraige proposal of our group, so as of two days ago Kaleigh and I are "married" (but we left our rings at home so we wouldn't lose them, oh darn).

We ended up taking a trotro to Winneba instead. A trotro is like a passanger van in the US, but without anything that could be considered a safety measure. In the states we can it armageddon, but Ghanaians call it traffic. I've never felt unsafe though, there is something about having EVERYONE ignore traffic rules that makes the system work.

In Winneba, we met Annie Hakim and her host Fred Dadzie, a former Challenging Heights worker that has since taken a job with Youth International. We were taken to Fred's house and then Annie took us across town for dinner. The atmosphere in Winneba is very different than Accra, there is much more of a community and everyone waves, smiles, welcomes you, and asks you your name (not your formal name but a name based on the day of the week you were form. I am Qwejo). One very kind lady outside the restaurant we ate lunch at had drinks sent up for us. I have a new favorite beverage, and I will find a way to get it back at the states. Ebay if I must. It is called Alvaro and it is pretty much the nectar of the gods.

That evening we went to another, outdoor restaurant to celebrate Annie and Fred's birthdays (along with everyone else born in June, it was a June-birth party) and watching THE football (soccer to you Americans) USA v. Ghana. When Ghana scored in the first five minutes, the place went crazy. People jumped up, ran around, hugged, sang, and blew horns. There was no way I couldn't root for Ghana, the excitement was too infectious. Believe me, the Ghanaian victory means a lot more to them than victory would have for America.

The party commenced with dinner on the house (rice and vegetables, chicken, and ambiguous-part-of-fish stew) and drinks (ALVARO LOVE LOVE and Gold Star... drinking age in Ghana isn't quite so high). We danced all night and had an amazing time. We did not know everyone there though, so I busted a lot of moves that involved brushing against my money pouch and camera. They say in Winneba that theft doesn't occur because you're stealing from your cousin's best friend's uncle, but there was no point in taking chances.

We returned to Accra in the morning via bus as planned. I had one night of not feeling well in the very beginning but haven't had problems since. I swear there are only four choices of food here though: redred, fufu, banku, and chicken/rice. Even if a restaurant has an elaborate, amazing looking menu, when you go to order they will tell you they are out of everything but redred, fufu, banku, and chicken/rice. It's a little bit like Grand Valley dining, hahaha.

I feel like I've only covered the very basics, but my internet time is running out and to cover everything would require as much time typing as I've spent living here. Everything has been a unique and amazing experience. As usual, I hope everything at home is doing well. Miss and love you all, I will see you one month from tomorrow!!

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