5 and a half weeks down, 12 and a half to go. I was hoping I would come here and uncover my hidden talent for blogging, that’s definitely not happening. I’m terrible at this. So since I’ve done such a horrible job up until this point, I’m going to overcompensate and make this as overly detailed as possible.
Last weekend was supposed to be our first homestay, where we spend a few days with an urban family and learn more about Ghanaian family life. Well, to make a long story short, it didn’t work out as planned so Sara and I had a lovely weekend with the dorm to ourselves. We discovered the joys of pirated DVDs and stocked up. I’m officially watching more TV shows and movies than I ever did back home.
I’m in my third week volunteering at the Osu Children’s Library Fund, deceptively located in Nima not Osu, and finding it bittersweet. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I work with the adult literacy class and officially have my own student. She is probably in her mid-twenties and the very definition of dedicated. Last week when I first sat down with her we started from the very top, with the ABCs, how to say each letter, what a capital letter looked like opposed to the “small” ones, and how to write both. This week when I sat down with her she only got hung up on a few and let’s be honest ‘g’ and ‘j’ are tricky. I’d been debating whether or not to bring up the ABC song, thinking that it might be demeaning to an adult to be learning a children’s song, but I caved yesterday and decided to try it. The Ghanaian culture is one that revolves around music and dance and while she was laughing a bit while singing she immediately caught on and had the tune, and was able to remember ‘q, r, s ‘ after one round.
The days I spend with the kids are quite another story. I’m struggling to come up with ideas for classes to teach that would keep them engaged, challenge them, and require as few supplies as possible. There’s two of us from this program who volunteer and Scott and I have been going in as a team until we figure out a plan for what to do. I really want to come up with a brilliant idea that will create a lasting impact on this organization that is trying to do so much but my idealist side is failing me.
…”sing child sing
make a song
beat out your own rhythms
and rhythms of your life
but make the song soulful
and make life
Well I think I made it through round one of West African hazing. Malaria-check. Not a pleasant week, but I understand now why it is better to come down with it here than in the States-it’s a box to check on the hospital forms. I start my volunteer work this week and am so excited to get going. I’m working at the Osu Children’s Library Fund at their location in Nima, which is one of, if not the, poorest neighborhoods in Accra. The library acts as a sort of Jack-of-all-trades in the community and provides the children with a safe and sound place to be, a meal, and also requires them to bathe before coming in. They try to do so much with so few resources it is astounding and overwhelming all at once. The woman Hanna whom I’m working directly under seems to have high hopes for the programs I can design and implement in my time there. Ahhhh! The pressure is on. The sun has finally decided to come out for us this week. While it has been hot, hot hot, the sun itself has been covered by sand from the Sahara since we arrived meaning the sky has been a hazy shade of greige. I see beautiful blue skies today though to welcome us into our fourth week (how did that happen?!).
Coming off of a year and a half in New York City, the city that literally never sleeps, where my casual stroll has evolved into a pace my high school cross-country self would happily adopt as race-pace, where you walk only with the sharpest intent and purpose, and instant gratitude is the only acceptable form of satisfaction, Ghanaian culture is a refreshing change.
Patience is the catch-phrase of this trip and is truly necessary in order to enjoy life in Accra. It is quite possible your waitress will forget that you ordered and leave you for half an hour believing your food is on its way…it’s not. But that’s ok because as long as you take things as they come and learn to expect a 9o’clock meeting to stumble to a start more around 9:30, all the extra time is a perfect chance to recharge.
After months of speculation and preparation for the men of Ghana, I can safely say that is was all true. They’re terribly persistent, much too comfortable grabbing your hands and arms, and very quick to propose. Well, at least I know I have options! Actually, out of all the girl’s here I am having the least trouble with the men and only have one proposal under my belt. I’m trying to be thankful and enjoy my mostly hassle-free trip, but it’s starting to hurt a little. I can be a green card too you know!
One week away and I already have a new name! The Ghanaian tradition is to take the name based on the day of the week you were born. So Yaa it is!
What a week. I’m all sorts of exhausted but very, very happy to be here.