Friday, July 27, 2012

Finally!


Wow...so we haven't had internet here in a few days, and it has been rough! But by the grace of God we got it back tonight and boy am I happy. Today we got to listen to a lecture by a dance teacher from the University of Ghana. It was about Ghanaian dances, and after the lecture we got to learn some dances! For those of you who really know me, you know that I don't have a lot of rhythm and that I am not a good dancer but I can do the dances over here somehow! They are really fun and all the dances tell some kind of a story. I just hope that I remember them when I get back home. In the last couple of days we've also had drumming lessons, listened to a lecture by an excellent professor about Indigenous Slavery, had a big discussion around the unfortunate death of Ghana's President, John Atta Mills and how it will affect the government now and how it will effect the upcoming elections, we've met in small groups and today we had our orientation for our community service! We are doing our community service through the Cheerful Hearts Foundation and the role that I chose was to teach. I am very excited about it! I am teaching 2nd grade English by myself and then I am co-teaching an African American Studies class with one of my peers, Fuadi and I think we are doing 6th or 7th grade. I really can't wait because I love children and I love helping others. We start Tuesday! 


Of all places, my car was in Africa.
I barely saw it in  Washington!





The Beautiful kids of my dressmaker, Betty. I love them!
My friends, Gabriel and Bismark :)
A chocolate-banana milkshake
we found. It was BOMB.
Had me in tears!
Cute school kids we met. They wanted biscuits! (cookies)

My BEST BUDDY Latif and me! Love this boy!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Exciting Day!


I got my hair braided today!!! IT ONLY TOOK 3 HOURS. I once got this type of style done in NJ when I was young and it took 7+ hours! It was a great experience, I really got to know all of the beautiful women who took part in it. There was Aggie, Naneya, Adjua, and Susan. We talked about allll sorts of things, and  a lot of interesting things do do with marriage and having babies, naming ceremonies and names in general :) I love them! And I love my hair, it looks great, but it hurrrts right now. Well, I guess beauty is pain sometimes. But they said it will stop hurting in about two to three days so yayy! Tomorrow we are working on our individual projects and getting to listen to a lecture by a Professor from Ghana. Good night all!

Our trip to the city of Accra

Yesterday we went on an all day field trip to the city of Accra. We got to go to the Kwame Nkruma Mausoleum, the Art Market, the W.E.B. Du Bois Center, and then we had dinner at a restaurant called Asanka Local.

This statue is the very spot where he
declared independence for Ghana
The Kwame Nkruma Mausoleum was a very interesting place, and we had a tour guide who explained all about his life, reign as President and death to us. We learned that Kwame Nkruma was the first President of Ghana, he fought for and won Ghana's independence, he named Ghana, Ghana, and he was a socialist and believed in Pan-Africanism. All over the walls were pictures of him with prestigious people such as John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., the prime Minister of China, lots of other leaders, even Fidel Castro was at his funeral. We learned that he was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc and that was really cool to me because that means he is my brother, since I am a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. We learned that he had an arranged marriage and his wife was a beautiful woman from Egypt. They had three kids together, two boys and one girl and today his daughter is leading the political party that he started, while one of his sons is in a whole different political party. We learned that he was overthrown, unfortunately by a coup that got its support from the American CIA. The tour guide explained that America was seeing Ghana prospering and they still wanted to be able to use all of its resources and everything, so they decided to overthrow him. He was exiled from Ghana and moved to Guinea where he served as a leader there until he died. Today he is still a figure of importance and independence all over Ghana.

One of my good friends I met at the
Art Market, Yusef!
The Art Market was....very exhausting. Imagine going through the vendors at a State fair, add about 200 more vendors with much less space in between them and even more products. Now imagine everyone calling you over or coming and actually grabbing your hand and pulling you over to their shop. Being at the Art Market was difficult for me because I don't ignore people and I want to try and help every person that I come into contact with, plus it is hard for me to say no and I feel bad about negotiating prices....even though you kind of have to do that here. It was pretty stressful, and I spent a lot, but all my purchases I really treasure and everything is beautifully hand made, so it wasn't a waste by any means. However there were some really great parts to it. I made a lot of friends and learned a lot from the people. For example I didn't bring a ton of money with me so of course, I can't buy everything. Sometimes I would tell the person, "I'm sorry, I'm too poor". And they would say, "You are not poor! You are living aren't you? The poor are the people in the hospital who can't eat, talk, or walk". This was a good lesson to me, because I have been financially stressed a lot since I've started college and I sometimes complain about how poor I am, but they showed to me that as long as you are living, you are rich with life. Which is the most important thing. Another lesson I learned there was about the importance of family. At many of the shops I went to, the people working there said that they were brothers and so many actually said that that I was confused. I actually asked Yusef, (my friend in the picture) what he meant, because he was at another shop separate from his and encouraging me to buy something from this man who he said was his brother. When I asked he explained that they were first cousins, but in Africa they consider first cousins as brothers and sisters and they make sure that they are taken care of. He even said, "If I run out of money, this guy will take care of me. Or if he runs out of money, I will take care of him. If I owe him money I will pay him, and if he owes me money, he will definitely pay me". He went on further explaining that in this culture, it is all about taking cafe of one another. I told them how great I thought that was and how in our society competition is within everything. I even told them about how in Selah there are two separate car lots competing against each other and the owners are brothers and they strongly disagreed with that. I agree, with them. I think if families and people in general took care of each other more, the morale of people would be more happy and they would be taken care of for sure.

W.E.B. Du Bois, age 4
The W.E.B Du Bois Center was amazing. It was actually his home while he was living here in Ghana. I even got to hold a book that he has touched while we were in his library! We went through his dining room, living room, and bed room and we learned all about his contribution to the Pan-African movement, Civil Rights work and political work that helped those of African descent all around the world. The most interesting thing there was the pictures from his childhood. In college, I have learned a lot about W.E.B. Du Bois and I always knew that he was African American but I figured he was 1/16 or something because of how light skinned he was because all the pictures we saw of him in school was when he was in his far later years in life. There was a picture of him when he was four and he was very dark! I was surprised. The tour guide told us that he had a skin disease (probably vitaligo) that changed his skin from dark to almost all white. He then showed us an older picture of him and you can see the skin color variety in his hands and the lower part of his face. We learned about how because he was dark and people everywhere really did know that he was African American that growing up him and his family got made fun of and discriminated against which propelled his efforts in helping the Black Society throughout his long life.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Great Times in Ghana

 A very beautiful person who came and spoke to us of identity and finding out who we are.
And not by what other people think we are, but what we truly know we are.
 Brothers and Sisters after our drumming and dancing lesson!
 A beautiful little girl I met who loved me! 
 Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois as a young boy. 

 The most energetic little boy I have ever seen!!! So cute!
 Plaque outside W.E.B. Du Bois's house!
 W.E.B. Du Bois's in-ground bath tub in Ghana, which made it easier for him to use because of how old he was.
One of my Brothers I met at the market, he was great!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Trip to Ashesi University


Ashesi front lawn entry
Today we visited Ashesi University, which is a private, liberal arts school in Ghana that was founded in 2002. The beautiful beautiful beautiful facility we visited was almost brand new and built in 2009. The school has degrees in Business Administration, Computer Science and Arts and Sciences, but overall  has a main focus on a better future for Africa. We got to meet staff and students, and together, we listened to a lecture by one of the economics professors there titled "Perspectives of Development". From there we broke up into groups and had a very interesting and intellectual discussion about the "bottlenecks" or barricades of Ghana's development. In my group, which was made up of two Ashesi students and four University of Washington students, we came up with: a lack of education, no market variety, no electricity, not enough clean water, hardly any job opportunities, no addresses or street names, government dominance as well as a lack of public transportation as well as sanitation and a lack of good health. We also touched on how if someone wanted to start a business but did not have enough money, they could take out a loan, however, in Ghana the loan interest is 28% or more, which is extremely high! Then in our group we had to to try and figure out which one of these things was most important and we had a good discussion with that question alone. In the end we came up with the fact that without education, we would have a much more difficult time getting a job. We also said that without electricity, it is hard to get an education. The students told us that even at their nice facility, class was repeatedly
A member of my group and I.
disrupted with power outages. And lastly we pointed out, if the children and parents aren't healthy, then they can't attend school and/or need help working. So overall many of these things have equal importance. One of the questions asked about a blockade that was self inflicted. Us UW students were not sure, but our friends said that one thing that is so is nepotism. They said that it is hard here, because so many people are under the responsibility and care of one person. So if that person has a connection with say, a University or a job opportunity for example, than that person is expected to get all able members of the family into it. The last thing we talked was recommendations for what could be done about these barricades-the number one answer was that the government just needs to step up and take care of its people! Because as of right now, they are failing to do their job.
The Beautiful Ashesi School
Overall, this experience was amazing. It was was an honor and a pleasure to be able to meet and have discussion with the Asheshi students and being able to learn from each other. We are from different country's, different continents, but we are really the same. We have worked hard to get to a higher level of education, we are bright and thoughtful, we are in school because we want to build or continue a legacy of success in our families, get good jobs, and overall, make our world a better place.



Day 3

 Ghanaian License plate
 A bag of water we bought on the street. It was good.
A field with young soccer players
 We got phones today, praise Jesus!
My new turtle to add to my collection!!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Akwaaba



Akwaaba means Welcome. Medasi means thank you. Those are two of the first words that I  learned in the Ghanaian language upon arrival. As soon as you walk into the airport (after getting through immigration and the eighteen passport checks) you are greeted again and again with Akwaba. We all felt very welcomed when getting here, which is a great feeling, especially for those of us who have never been out of the country before. Entering the Kokrobite Institute was an amazing feeling. We all knew we were staying here and we had all seen pictures, but to actually be here is a whole different thing. It is beautiful! The staff was also very welcoming and kind. The view from where we eat and have meetings is right on the ocean. It really is such a blessing and honor to have the opportunity to be here. It feels great to be a part of the majority and not the minority, for once. I have not been in the Kokrobite Village for very long, but I have already learned a lot about the culture and its people. Today we went on a tour of the village and saw the Kokrobite Police Post, the Village Clinic, hair, fashion and beauty vendors, food vendors, Coca-Cola and Pepsi vendors, even more vendors, and many schools throughout the area. Everyone was welcoming, but the brightest part of my day was the children. Ghanaian children are so friendly and adorable. They always greet you with a big smile and a wave. I love children and am going to work with them someday, so I think that this is a great start to my future field of practice.
We also went on a wetlands tour. We traveled across the village in a "luxury van" (which was an extremely bumpy, but fun ride) to the beach. It was really cool. There was the ocean, and then an island and on the other side of the island was freshwater. We went on a big canoe in the freshwater and got to go on the island which was a home for the families in the fishing business. Today we also got to witness a performance by Chris Williams, an Australian Didgeridoo player. Not only did he play his instrument for us, but later in his visit he was joined by some Kokrobite drummers and dancers for an amazing cross-cultural performance. 
Last night we had an evening performance by a small group from a city close by. After their small show that they gave us we got to do some hands on stuff and I played the drums! It was a different kind of drum than what you usually see, it sat on the floor and you hit it with your fist, or the palm of your had, at the same time hitting it with a small stick. The drummer and I had a nice rhythm going on! It was a lot of fun.
So far this trip has been amazing, and I am sincerely thankful to everyone who helped me out with it and gave me things like bug spray and sunblock because you realllly need it here! I especially want to thank my mom because she made sure that I had everything that I would need! And my grandma, because she bought me some beautiful dresses to wear over here. 
Tomorrow we are visiting Ashesi University and traveling to the Aburi Carving Village. I can't wait to tell you about it!
Lovely Scenes from the beautiful, welcoming land of Accra, Ghana.

 Group photo during our Wetlands Tour
A small fish that one of the local fisherman caught with his bare hands!
 My glorious room :)
 All the kids here are adorable :)))))
 Our beds!
 Akwaaba (Welcome)

Our view of the ocean from where we eat and have morning meetings. Beautiful!


Got to meet the cutest little pilot at the airport :)