Monday, November 30, 2009

Yay for a Photo Blog!

So in two weeks I will be back on U.S. soil. This trip is coming to a close and I finally was able to get some pictures on my flash drive to show you all. Enjoy!!!

These are my homestay sisters in Accra. Akosua is on the left and Carmen is on the right. Akosua is 17 years and Carmen is 20 years. They are so fun and they made my stay so fun! I stayed with them the first 2 weeks I was in Ghana :)

While I was staying in Accra, I had my hair braided. They put extensions in and everything. It was the best! It's my favorite way I've had my hair ever! The ladies in the picture with me were my hair braiding team, who are now my friends. My auntie Janet is the woman on my right and she is the owner of the shop. Mary, Vivian, and Akosua are the others who helped. It took 5 hours to do! It was worth it though. I can't wait to have it done again before I come back!

These are some memebers of my homestay family in Kumasi. I stayed with them the second 2 weeks I was in Ghana. I also lived with them for another 2 1/2 weeks in November. This picture was taken at the dance performance that myself and the other American students did for our homestay families. The lady in yellow is my Auntie Rita. On her lap is Kwadwo (1 1/2 yrs). He was scared of me for a long time. Next to my auntie is Elizabeth (11yrs) and Kobby (5yrs). To my right is my sister Obiya (20yrs) and on her lap is Sharon (7 yrs). I love them so much. They treated just like a biological family memeber. I will never forget them!

After staying in Kumasi for 2 weeks, we went and lived in a village. It was the most life changing experience I've had in Ghana. While I was there, I met five little girls who captured my heart and changed my life. They are the sweetest little things with the saddest story. Their mother is a drunk who spends all the family money on booze. Even worse, she is the bread winner because her husband is disabled. She is very neglectful of her beautiful girls, who are mostly cared for by Comfort (the girl standing behind me). Comfort is not related to them, but she has taken it upon herself to help care for this woman's four daughters. Two of them are pictured here. As I said, Comfort (10 yrs) is behind me. On my lap are Sarah (4 yrs) on the right and Rose (2 yrs) on the left. They are so cute and I will continue to love them and support them from the US.

Ok, so throughout this whole journey, I have made lots of friends. But Natalie and I have kinda done almost everything together and supported each other. She hails from Portland, Oregon, but schools at Macalester in Minnesota. She's the best and I am grateful for her. As our friend Kokroko says, "she is my favorite friend". Here we are in Cape Coast for our friend Lisa's birthday. (Yes I had my hair done again, but it didn't last as long. It was kind of a lion mane - I loved it!)

One of the things Natalie and I liked to do while we were in Cape Coast was to get up at 5AM, walk to the beach, head for these big, beautiful rocks, and watch the sun come up. It was unreal! Especially because we were doing it at the end of October and early November. Here is a picture of me from one of those mornings, soaking up the gorgeous sunrise.

Also while we were hanging around Cape Coast, our group made a trip to Krakum National Park. They are famous for their 240ft canopy walk. The walk is on rope bridges suspended in between tall trees. Here I am doing the walk, just hanging out in the canopy.

Ok those should hold you all over for a while ;) Just kidding. Anyway, enjoy the pictures and I will post again soon!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November: The Season of ISPs

I am sooo bad at blogging sometimes. I wish I had a video blog. I think I would be better at that. Plus I am a ham...

Anyway, so for the month of November I have been living in Kumasi, Ghana doing a research project on the Akan Adinkra Symbols and their use in the arts. I've loved researching this topic because the resources are readily available, yet the common knowledge about the symbols is less than presence. Most people see these symbols everyday, yet they have no idea what they mean. It's been fun to discover how art has had a large hand in preserving the symbols, but also how it could progress and change in ways that could better educate the general population about their meaning.

But enough of that boring academic stuff. Here are some highlights from my stay with the Andoh family. Just so you know, there are tons of kids, lots of noise and laughs, plus the power goes out at least once a day:

*One day, I brought home a dvd with 30 michael jackson videos on it. Upon putting it in, myself and 8 of my siblings broke into a Michael Jackson dance party that lasted 1 hour.

*There is a drink here in Ghana, distributed by Guiness, called Alvaro. It's a soda that comes in pinapple and pear flavors. PEAR IS TO DIE FOR! I love it and I have maybe one everyday. My siblings find this funny and love to tell me that "Alvaro will kill you." They also convinced Kwadwo, my 1 year old brother, that my name is Alvaro. Needless to say, that is what he calls me.

*For the past few days I have been greeted in the morning my my brothers Kobby and Kwadwo wearing shirts, socks, shoes - yet no pants. (they are 5 and 1year)

*Kobby turned 5 a few days ago. Natalie, my American friend, and I bought him a small drum. He loved it. I beat it senselessly. The head broke in 5 minutes.

*My sisters and I sat out on the porch one night and made little purses out of scrap fabric and small zippers that I bought for 10 peswas each (that's less than 1 cent). It was a lot of fun :)

*I got my sister Christy 2 dvds of American hip hop. Needless to say, there was a second dance party - but this time it was in the shop she runs and replace the Michael Jackson with Beyonce's "Single Ladies"

Basically, I have loved my time here in Kumasi. I am sad to be going to Cape Coast tomorrow because it means leaving my family. But it's ok. I miss the US too. I will be back in 2 weeks so watch out! Peace!

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's been a while...sorry

Ok sorry for taking forever to blog next.

This one is going to be short because I only have 15 minutes left on my internet here at the internet cafe (welcome to Ghana).

Here is a fun highlight for ya:

So on October 16th, the Ghana Black Stars under 20 (years old) soccer team became the first African team to win the World Cup in the division. Now, Ghana people love soccer, or football as they call it. But they don't love it like we do in America.

They live it.
They breathe it.
They eat it for dinner.

Ok, so myself and some friends were at a bar, watching the game. They entire 90 minutes went without a score, as did the 30 minute over time. So it came down the the shootout.

Ghana = goal
Brazil= goal

...and so on and so on. It came down to Ghana making one final goal it win

and they did.


People were dancing, screaming, chanting, yelling, smiling, pounding on tables. The streets flooded with people - literally the whole city of Tamale decended on the main road. My friends and I left the bar to take to the streets and check it out. As we turned to our lefts, we probably looked like Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds because coming toward us was a sea of zealous Ghanians all lead by two men carrying a giant Ghanian flag.

So of course we joined the celebration! and oh boy did we celebrate :) I wove my Ghanian flag proudly as we danced and chanted and screamed like mad people!

3 miles
1 hour
and buckets of sweat later, we returned to our hotel exhausted.

Drifting off to sleep, I couldn't help but smile :)

Next Post: details on the Naama village trip and what else I did in Tamale

Also, for those of you keeping track, we are headed to Cape Coast on Thursday :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

We're off to live in the Village...

..the wonderful village of Ghana!

We are about to complete phase 2 of our tour around Ghana in Kumasi and head to the rural-no-toilets-to-be-found-awesome-adventure-time Village.

Kumasi has been so great! I love being here and I REALLY love my family. I will miss them so much when we go, but I know I will come back to see them during my month of research.

Tomorrow, we are throwing a big party for them! There will be a big meal and we are performing 2 dances. I am soooo excited! We've been practicing all week and I think it will be well received.

For those of you who are dying to know what I wrote in Twi, here is your translation:

Hello. How are you? What is your name? Where are you from? I like Ghana? (suppose to be Do you like Ghana but I messed up sorry!) Ok, see you later!

Ok, so here in Ghana, before you even get your name when you are born, you have a "day-born" name. There is a male and female name for each day. Mine is Ama because I was born on Saturday. I posted them below, so check them out, figure out yours, and leave it as a comment (the female name is listed first.)

Monday: Adwoa, Kojo

Tuesday: Abenaa, Kwabenaa

Wednesday: Akua, Kwaka

Thursday: Yaa, Yau

Friday: Afia, Kofi

Saturday: Ama, Kwame

Sunday: Akosua, Kwasi

Anyway, I won't be able to post while I am in the village, but well - there is no internet there. But expect a post full of funny stories, great friends, and lots of adventures when I get back.

Now, I would like to take this time to do an American shout out:


Talk to everyone one the flip side of the village :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Me pe Ghana

(I love Ghana - Twi language)

Twi is a great language for many reasons, but my favorite is that there is absolutely NO VERB CONJUGATION! (take that 6 years of spanish).

Anyway, I will soon be posting your first Twi lesson, but for now and the sake of time just work this into your daily life:

Ma kye o. E te sen? Ye fre wo sen? Wo firi hen? Me pe Ghana? Yo.....Ye Be Hyia!

translation to come :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From Accra to Kumasi

We left Accra yesterday for Kumasi, which is also known as the Ashanti region.

It is soooo much more calm then Accra. Holy smokes! I love it. We have resumed Twi classes and I love that. I feel like I am getting a hang of the language, but I still have a long way to go.

I'm living with a new family now and they are great. There are tons of people in the house and it's crazy and fun, even though the 18month old still doesn't know what to do with me.

I'm at the neighbors using the internet and I don't want to be long. Kumasi is off to a great start. I can't wait to keep learning and start dance classes :)

Ye da onyame ase (we thank God- Twi language)

Peace out slices!

**P.S. SHOUT OUT TO MY CAPITAL UNIVERSITY PEEPS! Miss you and hope all is well :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Don't you love life's quirks?

And when you live in Ghana there are many. Those quirks turn into stories which turn into memories, which carve their own place in your soul and shape you. Here are so of my favorite memories from my time here in Accra, as I prepare to go to Kumasi:

*Chro-Chros. Those pesky janky euro vans that escourt one anywhere they could possibly need to go. They are packed. They are hot. They are manned by drivers who take the law into their own hands. But I love them.

*Batik. The other day I learned to batik from a man named King David. We did it outside and it was wonderful. It was a dream come true and really fun. My final product is just one of many to come.

*The Ghanian police. When I was late and lost in Accra, the Ghanian police officer, who I asked for help, stopped traffic to find me a Chro-Chro. Props to them!

*The beach. So since Accra is on the coast, beaches are accessable to all. And if you like being heckled and asked to buy things every waking second - including being stalked down the beach- then Lambardie beach in Accra is for you. It wasn't a bad experience though. I got some sun, bonded with my peers, and ate a really great vegetable sandwich.

*Our Twi language skit. Basically making fun of Chro-Chros and children who stare at you all the time. Good times.

*My Auntie Macy's place. She has a small "restaurant" in a small corner of campus. I love it! I go there everyday, greet here and her mother, and enjoy the peace and quite of her little hide away.

*Getting my hair braided. I made great great friends, laughed a lot, watched the black stars dominate sudan, and laughed a lot (did I already say that). 5 hours well well spent.

*Getting beads around my waist. Women in Ghana wear them for beauty purposes. I am now a Ghanian according to my host sister. I love them. They are way better than ANYTHING victoria secret could ever put out.

*My host family. Basically, I love them. They are the best you could ask for, even though my 6 year old sister is crazy. Pray for them. Love them because I do, they are worth it.

*Alvaro pear. Trust me, it will ROCK your world.

*My peers. Everyone on this trip is so funny and beautiful. I couldn't ask for better company. God has blessed me with them, fo so!

*Bucket Showers. Nothing sexier then pouring semi-hot water on yourself

*DANCE. because it's DANCE!!! and not just dance, it's AFRICAN DANCE!

*Classes. I've learned so much and am so grateful for that knowledge. Our lecturers have been amazing. I am so grateful for them!

*Papa Attah, Yemi, Kokroko, Krachokye, and Ester. Our staff. Our family. Our source of humor and comfort. They are blessings.

There is so much more. I could go on forever. But that is a taste of Accra so far. See ya in Kumasi!

Nyame Nyira Wo (God Bless You - Twi language)