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Published: January 22nd 2013
There are no rules on the road in Ghana
I landed in Accra, Ghana on Friday, January 11th 2013. Stepping off the plane from my lovely upgraded business class seat (where you get real silverware and hot towels), a rush of humidity hit my face. Remembering to not pull out my camera to take a picture of the plane, like I did in Russia...I jumped into the shuttle bus as quickly as I could to avoid the mosquitoes. Then the line to get through customs grew and grew...making what I expected to be a fast trek through, more than an hour long wait.
Once through and my luggage pulled off of the conveyer belt, the quest to find the hopefully still waiting there CIEE sign to take me to their safe haven began. Weaving through men asking to take my luggage for me and if I wanted a taxi was somehow avoided; I made it to the two friendly faces who were holding up the CIEE sign. In a shuttle bus, I made it to the beginning of orientation at Ange Hill Hotel in East Legon. Flopping down on my bed in a room with AC was just what I needed by not getting any sleep in the past
Just watching the hustle of the busy traffic
36 hours. But before I allowed myself to sleep I went to meet the other 8 students (including 2 other Babson students) who were on the Business Development and Social Entrepreneurship program.
The Nifty Nine- as one student decided to call us include: Gabby, Robbie, Jamie, Katy, Alex, Adjoa, Lindsay, and John. At the University of Legon, we have 2 U-Pals: Evans, and Angela, who are absolutely amazing. There are a few other students who are U-Pals focused on the other Liberal Arts program...but who ended up hanging out with us before the other students came, so they came to be our other friends at the University.
The CIEE staff- is incredible as well, including Mr. Gyesi, Abena, Janet, and Boatemaa. They create a dream team who take care of all of us with wit and laughter. They definitely make the experience in Ghana even more unforgettable.
So orientation was stationed at the fancy hotel, with some lectures, and the typical safety information that you always end up hearing where ever you go. Main point is always the same- Be Smart about what you do. We also went to the Accra Mall, which was our first
Running to catch the Tro Tro to get to school on time
adventure outside of the airport and hotel. Cluttered with international faces, it barely felt like we were in the middle of Africa. The second outing that we were thrown into was considered a scavenger hunt... the U-Pals' way of entertaining themselves with our lack of knowledge. We were forced to ride a Tro Tro...the main means of public transportation in Ghana...they're like big minivans with extra seats...that have certain routes and different fares depending on where you're going.
In a group of 3, we approached a Tro Tro- trying to get it to take us to "power house". With 1 cedi in hand, we had no idea how much it was supposed to cost or what to do when we got there, we were just told to go- as the U-Pals stood to observe us. It was John who had asked the mate (the one who opens the door and collects the money) if they were going to go by Power House...we got denied...and the Tro Tro sped away... not only were our U-Pals laughing, the other nearby strangers were struggling not to chuckle at our failed attempt to do something so easy for them. Finally we made it
You can clearly tell that Ghana is a developed country that just has random gaps in the system
on a Tro Tro and gave the mate our 1 cedi... not even thinking about getting or asking for change... apparently losing out on 10 pesewas.
Once at power house...we did not see anyone who knew in sight and so we just stood their dumbfounded... lost in Ghana... finally other foreigners- our group appeared off in the distance and we were relieved. And off to find the places that we were told to continued, by asking passersby on the street we accomplished the scavenger hunt with ease under the hot heavy sun and made it to our lunch destination. Exhausted already, on the second day in Ghana... I have no idea how we have made it a week already.
The following day (Monday) I got picked up by my host parents. Jamie and I ended up being roommates and share a room at the house. We have one big closet, a mini fridge, a desk, two beds, some ants, and a bathroom attached to our room. The house consists of our host parents, who are retired civil servants, their son and his family (wife, 3 kids, and mother-in-law), a grandson, another family (mother, son, and aunt), and a
Vehicles come in all styles and years...
I somehow got lucky by being in North Legon (just north of the university) because Mr. Gyesi's wife (a graduate professor) and Janet drive by my house on their way to drop of their children before going to the office, so whenever I can I have been getting a ride from them- avoiding the Tro Tro system and spending money.
So far, only Ashesi and CIEE classes have started and University of Legon's classes’ start next week (I have to pick 2 classes…most likely a dance class and a sociology class if they fit my schedule correctly). The Entrepreneurship class at Ashesi is like a capstone course to everything I have learned at Babson thus far. The CIEE classes include Twi (the local language) and Globalization, which includes an internship. My internship is at Princess Diana School in American House in East Legon. I have to take shared taxis, another new concept to public transportation, where there is a parking lot for taxis, and you sit in a taxi until it fills up with people to go towards the direction that it says it's going, and you can make it stop on the way to the last
Right before the toll booth on the way to Ashesi, there's a side road that has the usual small side shops on the street
destination or get picked up by one in the same manner. When I finally got there I learned that I will most likely be teaching English to students in equivalent grades to 10th and 11th grade and helping out in the Kindergarten class.
Now, I know this post is lacking pictures and is late, but I haven’t had the opportunity to take pictures just yet, as I leave most of my technology locked up in the office at the University because I have no need for it as I am slowly getting back into the days when technology didn’t control my life. I have been reading and writing more, something that I have missed more than I imagined. Being in Ghana is definitely a wakeup call to the simplicity in life and human interactions that we end up missing out on due to the boom of the internet and technology.
Ghana’s first lesson for the week: We are all one under the sun, no matter our skin color; we are the same in the inside – Don D. (from La Beach in Ghana- an artist)
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