Monthly Archives: March 2012

Site Visit

I passed my LPI with an Intermediate High rating. Peace Corps trainees need at least an Intermediate Medium rating to pass. My LPI lasted 17 minutes and I had to introduce myself, introduce my American and Ghanaian families, talk about my daily routine, and do a market role-play all in Ewe. Passing the LPI proved that I can memorize a monologue in Ewe, but at this point I still struggle when it comes to actually conversing with someone in a real-world situation.

Last week all of the Peace Corps trainees travelled to Kumasi for our “Counterpart Workshop”. We finally learned where we will be living and what we will be doing for the next two years. I previously knew that I would be heading to the Volta Region, but I didn’t know which community I would live in.

The Peace Corps staff revealed our sites to us by drawing a map of Ghana and marking each community with chalk. One-by-one each person’s name was read and each person stood on his/her location on the Ghana map. After this, we met our work counterparts and discussed our work projects. I will be working on the Ghana WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) project improving sanitation and hygiene in multiple communities. I’m exited about my project because it seems relatively structured and there is a lot of work to be done. I don’t think I’ll be sitting under a mango tree for the two years.

After the Counterpart Workshop I travelled from Kumasi to my community, Abutia Teti, which is right outside of Ho, capital of Volta Region. I only had two days to visit my community and the surrounding area, but so far I like what I see. My living area isn’t what you would expect from the Peace Corps. I have two bedrooms, a toilet, and a shower. I was told that my community has been waiting for a Peace Corps volunteer for 8 years, so everyone seems happy to have me there. I was surprised at how few children yelled “yevu” at me. “Yevu” means “obrini” in Ewe, which means white person or foreigner.

The first day of my visit I went to three churches in my community and introduced myself in Ewe. All it took was just a few lines from my LPI monologue to impress my community members. The second day my counterpart and I took a taxi to Ho. She showed me the office of the Local NGO and introduced me to the people I will be working with. After that I was introduced to the Municipal Assembly of Ho. The Municipal Assembly is the group of Government of Ghana officials that govern the district of Ho, which Abutia Teti is located in.

It was a short two days visiting my site, but I’m happy with it and I can see myself living there for the next two years. The only downside is that I won’t return for another month. All of the trainees are meeting in Tamale for technical training for 3 weeks and then we return to our homestay community for 1 week.

A picture of my room, mosquito net and all.

Introducing myself at church in Ewe. I accidentally greeted the group in singular form, but they cut me some slack.

Introducing myself at another church. They prayed for me afterwards.

Advertisements

Water

About two thirds of Peace Corps training so far has been learning the local language of the community you will live in. So most of my day is spent studying my language, Ewe. However, the other third of training so far has been technical training. Most of technical training has been in the classroom, however, sometimes we go out in the community and do something hands-on. For example, the other day we disassembled a borehole.

This borehole is drilled 21 meters into the ground and provides clean water for part of our training community. The man in the green jump suit provides maintenance on all of the boreholes in our community. When you want to fetch water it costs 10 pesewas per bucket. Then you carry the water back to your house on your head. If you are really skilled you won’t give yourself a shower on the way back.

Today, I finished my language exam and tomorrow we are all traveling to Kumasi where we will find out our sites for the next two years. After a few days in Kumasi we are all traveling to our individual sites for a few days and then we will resume training in Tamale.


Waterfalls, Independence Day, Farming

Sunday on our day off we visited the Boti waterfalls in the Eastern Region. It was nice to get outside after being in classes all day for the past couple of weeks. Aside from running in the morning a few times a week, I haven’t been getting that much exercise. However, our trip to Boti Falls allowed us to take in some fresh air.

Boti Falls is about an hour drive from our village. Once we arrived, we went straight to the waterfalls. Unfortunately, we can’t swim in fresh water, because of schistosomiasis.

After the waterfalls, we hiked for an hour to umbrella rock, which sits atop a large hill that provides a great view of the rainforest landscape. The hike wasn’t long, but it was very hot and humid so I was pretty exhausted by the time we made it to the top.

We then hiked a little further to a small village with a three-trunked palm tree that was the centerpiece of the village. It seemed to be a tourist attraction though, because there was a man charging 50 pesewas to climb it and have your picture taken. By now we were all starving so we ate lunch and the Peace Corps staff surprised us with pizza. It was first time I’ve eaten cheese in a month, so it was a nice break from Ghanaian food. I’ve heard the Volta Region has many waterfalls, so this definitely won’t be the last time I see a waterfall in Ghana.

This was my dinner the other night before it was cooked.

Note to self…don’t temp Mom to make something crazy for you, because she will. Turns out snail doesn’t taste that bad (kind of like rubber) and is relatively healthy.

March 6th was Independence Day in Ghana. Although Ghanaians don’t celebrate with BBQs and fireworks, all of the children have the day off from school. Each school in the town met in a large field for a marching competition.

Many people in my homestay family’s village are farmers. Some farm for a living and others farm as a hobby. Today my brother showed me my family’s farm. They grow palm nuts, pineapples, avocados, mangos, cocoa yams, and plantains. The farm didn’t seem to have much organization, just fruit trees scattered around thick weeds. Our job for the day was to cut the weeds with a machete or cutlass as the Ghanaians call it.

Also the Mangos are HUGE here.

 

In a week I have my Ewe Language Proficiency Interview (LPI), which is a 20 minute conversation with my language teacher to determine if I have enough language skills to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. After this we will meet our counterparts who we will work with for the next two years and travel to our sites to visit for a few days. I know I will be living in the Volta Region, but I’m excited to finally find out which community I will be living in.