It’s hard to put Ghana into words. It was the first port we have stopped in that has seemed very different than the United States. In the few lectures
before arriving, they prepared us very well as to what we should expect and
different characteristics of their culture. What I realized however is that until you experience Ghana, it’s hard to understand. We spent a lot of time talking on the ship about the attitude we needed to arrive in Ghana with. One of our professors gave us the best advice that stuck with us throughout our journey: “Don’t go looking for ways to change Ghana, but look for ways that Ghana can change you.” With that advice I went with a group of 30 SAS students on an unforgettable journey.
The first morning in port I boarded a bus with 30 SAS students on our way to a village called Senase. With our bug spray, toilet paper, and malaria pills packed we were ready for anything. We signed up through a man named Fred who other SAS students had recommended. He is our age and a few years ago met some SAS students who were looking for a good place to eat. He brought them to a restaurant and ended up sitting down and getting to know them. He invited them to visit his village the next day and that
was where he told them about his interest in tourism. Since then, he has had a group of SAS students every semester and has done an amazing job. He is a pretty remarkable young man. He is studying abroad in Turkey right now and is given one trip home a semester and ended up choosing our three days as his time at home.
We took a bus ride to Kumasi, which ended up taking a lot longer than usual. Our professors had warned us about the bad roads but I had never seen anything like it. Basically it was a wide dirt road that people drive wherever they feel they will scratch the bottom of their car the least. There aren’t any lines on the roads and it was the bumpiest car ride I have ever had. We would bounce up and down in our seats and it lasted for a few hours. Luckily our driver put on alligator movies for the entire 8-hour bus
ride, which made for some good laughs. We ate lunch in Kumasi and headed back on the road until we arrived at Senase. We had a home cooked Ghanaian meal from Fred’s Aunt and family. I made sure to take pictures of all the food we tried there! We were assigned a home for
our home stay and brought to those homes shortly after dinner. It was around 8 pm and usually people in the village go to bed earlier because there isn’t much electricity. I stayed with another girl Katie in a one bedroom home. It was interesting to see how differently they live. It sure was an experience not having a bathroom or running water.
In the morning we realized why they go to bed so early. At 4:30/5 we were woken up not only by the roosters but the goats outside. I thought there was a goat in our room for a minute because it was so loud. We walked to the outhouse and then went to have porridge for breakfast with the group. After breakfast we went to have a welcoming ceremony from the Chief Elders and the Queen Mother. They had a girl dancing and people playing the drums when we arrived. We shook everyone’s hands and had the ceremony. Before we left they told us we had to dance for them. It was pretty embarrassing us dancing because they are all such good dancers. Right after that we got split into groups. We spread out to the different schools throughout the village to visit. My group went to a school with 900 students. Right when we started to walk up, all of them rushed out of the classroom screaming and running to greet us. It was amazing. It took awhile for the kids to calm down and go back to their classrooms but after that we met with the superintendent.
An organization called Global Grins was started by two SAS alum and they provide toothbrushes to people across the globe. They depend mainly on people volunteering to hand them out when they study abroad or travel. They donated 30,000 toothbrushes to our voyage so everyone was encouraged to hand them out throughout Ghana. We brought 3000 with us to the village and handed them out in the school. We also brought gifts and school supplies that we handed out as well. The kids were excited and came up to us afterwards telling us how they brushed their teeth. We spent time just hanging out with the kids during their lunch break. When we walked back somehow they all came with us. We each had about 10 kids hanging off of our arms when we got back to our meeting point. I kept wondering what happened to school for the day. Later in the day we had dance lessons from a man who was teaching us a Ghanaian dance. It was difficult between the 100-degree weather and all of the kids from the village watching us. We practiced for about 2 hours until we finally had the dance down. That night we went to dinner and then Fred took us to a bar area in the next town over, where we could sit down and talk about the day.
The next morning we woke up bright and early again to goats. We had porridge again and said our goodbyes. One of the Chief Elders thanked us for our donations and the water tank that they would be putting in this week. We set off for another school to do our performance. Fred gave us all outfits for our dance and we performed in front of everyone. We weren’t exactly perfect with our dance – I know because unfortunately someone got it on tape. It was a fun experience though and something I won’t forget. After
finally getting on the bus after talking to all the kids again we sat down and
watched some more alligator movies on the way to Kumasi.
Girls in our performance outfits!
We had some time to visit the market in Kumasi, which was crazy. It was so busy mainly because it was a food market too. After we ate we got back on the bus and finally got back to the ship. We all went back and
showered and crashed shortly after.
The last day I went to Accra with my friend Gabby to the art market. We took the bus arranged by SAS and then crammed 6 of us in a taxi to the actual market. It was funny because the people in my taxi were two of my
teacher’s wives and their two children. Only on SAS will you be in a taxi with your professor’s family. The market was a lot of fun and had a lot of cool things. It was a little overwhelming trying to bargain the entire time and how much people try to get your attention. They would try in the weirdest ways too. I can’t tell you how many people talked to me about Obama and a few guys even talk about giving you a cow because that’s what they do for marriage proposals in Ghana. I left the market at the end of the day with the few things I wanted and without a husband so I would say it was pretty successful.
The first day on the ship was Neptune day where we crossed the equator. We ended up going a little out of our way to cross 0°/0° we crossed the equator and the prime meridian at the same time. The ceremony was exciting and consisted of us getting green stuff poured on us, kissing a fish, and a lot of people shave their heads. I can’t say that I shaved my head but I participated in everything else.
Crossing the Equator and Prime Meridian!
Now we are on our way to South Africa to continue our amazing journey in Africa!