Monthly Archives: February 2012

Life in Ghana

In Ghana greeting people is a must. If you are walking down the street it is viewed as offensive to not greet someone you know. If you do not greet, you are rude and only care about yourself. The greeting process is also longer in Ghana than it is in America. First, you tell the person good morning/afternoon/evening and the person responds. Then, you ask how the person how he/she is and the person responds. Then, if you are adept in the local language (which I am not), you ask how the person’s family and extended family. So if you greet every person you know, it can take forever to walk to class.

There are tons of children in our village and they all want to say hello to the “obrunis”. Obruni means foreigner or white person in Twi. Every time I walk down the street there are bound to be children yelling “obruni” at me. Although it seems yelling white person at someone would be offensive, calling someone obruni is not offensive or derogatory in Ghana. It is just a way for the children to get your attention because they do not know your name. If I’m in a friendly mood I respond to the children with my name and ask how they are doing. If not, I respond with “obinini”, which means black person (this is not offensive as my host family told me I can respond this way).

Ghanaians don’t believe in using silverware. They just cut out the middleman and use their food to eat their food. For instance, most meals consist of a starch (ie. rice, boiled yams, fried plantains) and a soup or stew. So they dip the starch in the stew and chow down that way. One such starch is fufu, which is pounded plantain, yam, cassava, or some mixture of the three. The result is a malleable, doughy ball that you dip into your soup and eat. The catch is that there is no chewing involved – just dip the fufu into the soup and swallow (all done with your hands).


In Ghana

Sorry I have not been able to post anything regularly. Today is the first time I have touched the internet since arriving in Ghana 11 days ago! The last week and a half have been a whirlwind. Here are some highlights so far.

Last week we went on an Amazing Race type scavenger hunt into Accra. We traveled into the city on trotros (Ghana’s form of public transportation) to find a few predetermined tourist attractions. A trotro is essentially van with four rows of seats with four seats in each row. It waits at the trotro station until all 16+ seats are filled.

My Ghanaian name is Kwaku Agyeman. Kwaku is the name for all males born on a Wednesday and Agyeman is the name of the grandfather of my homestay family. So far my homestay family has been great. I have an 18 year old brother, 17 year old sister, and 11 year old brother. We live in a house with electricity, but no running water, so I bathe in our courtyard with bucket and water.

The other day, I found out that I will learn to speak Ewe. So that means I will be working in the Volta Region in Ghana, because that is the only region that speaks Ewe. The community we are being trained in speaks Twi, so it will be challenge learning one language during the day and coming home to my family to speak another language.

So far we’ve been training non-stop. We have class from 8am to 5pm Monday through Saturday. Sunday is our day off, but that day could be busy as well. For example, this morning we all met the chief of our village, then I went to church with my dad. Church services are really long here. This morning it lasted three hours and it felt longer because I couldn’t understand most of what was being said.


Philadelphia, PA

So far Philadelphia has been good. Not too cold for being in the dead of winter. It’s about 40° F during the nights. Considering I only brought a sweatshirt, I feel like I lucked out.

Last night some of the early arrivals met up and watched the Super Bowl at the Holiday Inn bar. Then we went to Mac’s Tavern to grab a drink. Mac’s Tavern is owned by Mac and Sweet Dee from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia! Unfortunately Mac and Dee weren’t there serving drinks.

Today we had Peace Corps orientation, otherwise known as “Staging”, and are officially Peace Corps Trainees! Staging consists of a general overview of the Peace Corps.  Nothing too in-depth about Ghana, but how to act in situations all Peace Corps Volunteers face. During staging we covered Peace Corps’ expectations, safety measures, and our aspiration and anxieties, while doing icebreakers and skits.

Finally, I made it to Paddy’s Pub. I was a little disappointed it’s not the “actual” Paddy’s Pub, but it’s still a pretty cool dive bar.

Now it’s off to Ghana! We arrive in Accra at 7:00pm GMT.


12 Hours till Takeoff

It’s been difficult saying goodbyes over the past few days, but it has made me realize that I have a lot people in my life that care and I’m going to miss you all! Thanks to everyone who took me out to lunch, dinner, for drinks, etc.

My flight leaves for Philadelphia at 8:30 am. I’m all packed and ready to go! Here is the rundown of what I’m bringing:

Luggage
Hiking backpack
Rolling Duffel bag
Day-pack 
Clothes
20 Pairs of cotton underwear
3 T-shirts
Business casual outfit
Pair of shorts
Belt
5 Pairs of socks
Workout/exercise outfit
Hat for the sun
Lightweight waterproof jacket
Sweatshirt
2 Pairs of slacks/pants
2 Collar short sleeve shirts
3 Undershirts
Pair of board shorts
Pair of hiking pants 
Shoes
Pair of dress shoes
Pair of durable sandals
Pair of sneakers
Pair of running shoes
Toiletries
Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss
4 Deodorant sticks
Towel (camp towel preferable)
Nail clippers/tweezers
2 Bar soap
2 Bar shampoo
Hairbrush
Vitamins
14 Sunglasses (giving these away)
Bottle lotion
Face wash
Wash cloth/loofah
SPF 50 
Electronics
2 Flash drives
Ipod touch w/ headphones
Outlet adapter and voltage converter
2 Headlamps
Flashlight
Chargable batteries with charger
Laptop
External hard drive
Kindle
Camera
Mini Tripod
Solar cell
Cookingware
Small fry pan
50 Ziplock bags
Knife 
Other
2 Nalgenes
Roll of duct tape
Multitool knife
3 Journals
Thermarest compressible pillow
Set of earplugs
3 Pens
Voice Recorder
10 Passport photos
Picture of family
Coffee grounds
Coffee Press

Right now I’m weighing in at 40 lbs for my duffel bag and 22 lbs for my hiking backpack. I planned to come in under the Peace Corps maximum baggage weight limit of 80 lbs, but a total of 62 lbs makes me worry that I’m forgetting something. Time to go double-check.