Monday, November 9, 2009

Belated Update

Hello everyone,

This week has gone by so quickly!

I’ve been enjoying my time with Michael and Suzanne, of course. They’ve been very busy, but managed to take me to the beach on Saturday J as well as Aburi Botanical Gardens. The beach in Tema was beautiful, despite the unfortunate amount of litter! Michael and Suzanne were disappointed at the amount of plastic bags floating in the water and Styrofoam cups half-buried in the sand. The waves are very strong! Instead of swimming, I went out with Michael and Aba (five-year-old daughter) and we just waited for wave after to wave to hit us, throwing us back towards the shore. Aba is so tiny, with small bones and big eyes. She’s so light, I had to grip her arm to keep her from being washed away! The Ghanaians were complaining that the water was cold – Aba was shivering – but as a Canadian, it was wonderful! Very refreshing! Afterward, I sat under the shade of a little beach hut with Suzanne and Afua. I’m not even trying to tan, I’m too busy avoiding sunburn.

During the week, I’ve been driving into Accra with Suzanne and Michael, to their office there. From there, I’ll either stay at the office and do some “homework” or go out. Felicia is in Accra this week, staying with her cousin, so I’ve met up with her a few times. Felicia took me to her cousin’s salon yesterday, and I spent the whole afternoon there. I got my hair washed, flipped through magazines, and I got my hair braided! I figure – how many times will I be in Ghana? I might as well make the most of it! I like the braids, more than I thought I would. It feels different to have a mass of thick stiff hair on my head, but it’s okay. At one point I had three girls working on my head, and I just sat and watched as their fingers flew at an amazing speed. This morning I was told I look “very beautiful and very Ghanaian.” Ha

We went to the Accra Mall, and it is so strange. Walking into the giant Shoprite supermarket, with long aisles and Christmas decorations and uniformed employees – I felt like I could easily have been back in Canada. Or somewhere in the USA. It’s strange how the world is getting more similar! It is also an interesting mixture of people at the Shoprite. I see more white foreigners there than anywhere else. After being the “obroni” in Asamankese, it’s funny to see white people. I even saw a family of white Amish walking through the mall, complete with bonnets and everything!

Quote from Michael: “Wherever you travel, don’t live among Canadians. If you do, you will still be in Canada.”

Very good point. At first, being the only intern in Ghana was a little daunting. But it’s been good for me. I like having Ghanaian friends, living with Ghanaians, eating with Ghanaians … Being at the Shoprite, I realize it’s human nature to cling to the familiar. Seeing the foreigners there pushing their shopping carts, buying foreign food and sporting foreign fashions with their foreign friends … And they’re willing to pay a higher price for the “familiar” – that place is expensive!

But I’m glad I haven’t had the option of retreating from culture shock. At first, the local market was such a buzz of activity – selling strange food and speaking a language I can’t understand – that I wanted to get out of there! But I’ve been forced to adjust. From learning a few Twi phrases, to how to take a tro-tro on my own, it’s been a gradual process of adjusting. I know there is still a lot to learn, and more ways I could participate – but from my experience so far, the extra “stretch” that comes along with jumping into new things is worth the challenge.

I travel back to Asamankese tomorrow – already! Although I don’t want to leave Mampong, I do want to get back to Asamankese and get back into the program. Since many of the students couldn’t attend Friday session, they wrote the test on Tuesday under the supervision of the pastor’s wife. So when I get back I’ll be busy marking tests, and I’m interested to see how the students did and if there are any clear trouble spots. I also want to see their book creations on Tuesday!

Side note …

I had a conversation with Suzanne, discussing whether a man or a woman has a harder life. Suzanne thought, despite women’s pains of childbirth and inconveniences of pregnancy, men still had a hard task and a lot of responsibility. Besides that, she added quite seriously:

“If you’re a stupid woman, someone will marry you. But – really – who is going to marry a stupid man? If you marry a stupid man, your friends will make fun of you. You’ll just say, ‘Great. Here comes my stupid husband.’”

I laughed. And we concluded that both men and women have their difficulties.



  1. FIRST comment this time!! I can't believe I beat Ange! Great to hear you're getting some rest time between sessionals. Also glad to hear that you're anxious to get back! We miss you SO much, but happy to hear that it has been such a rewarding experience - you'll never be the same! We're enjoying your introspective look as you have different experiences. It makes us think too!

    Keep well,
    MA & PA

    PS Hope your dad didn't get stuck with a 'stupid' woman! HA! We also enjoy hearing Micheal & Suzanne's comments - funny at times, but also makes you think.

  2. Ah nuts! I missed it. I never know what to comment after "MA & PA"... they really sum up my thoughts so well!

    So I will respond:


  3. A quick North American update...

    The CMA's were on tonight (country music awards).. and remember how Carrie Underwood "stole" the female vocalist from faith hill? and there was that big drama with faith hill saying "WHAT?!?" anyways.... guess who won female vocalist of the year tonight!? TAYLOR SWIFT... Carrie is no longer the reigning champ!