PaulaWoods' Travel Journals

PaulaWoods

 
What is the most interesting culture you've experienced?

Dine or Navajo culture

  • 28 years old
  • From New York, United States
  • Currently in Cape Coast, Ghana

Ghana Adventures

I hope this will help all my loved ones follow along with me on my journey through Cape Coast (:

C’est la vie in Ghana.

Ghana Cape Coast, Ghana  |  Feb 20, 2013
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Happy (late) Valentine’s Day!  I was surprised how many Ghanaians asked me what my plans were for the day…They were even more surprised though, when I told them we were having an “I hate Valentine’s Day” party…  A few of the girls and I “celebrated” with bad chocolate (there’s no good chocolate in Ghana  ) and a movie we couldn’t hear on my laptop (so instead we made did the voices for the characters)…  Oh and a TON of laughs of course (:  Definitely wasn’t our plan, but as I’m starting to notice, nothing ever goes according to plan here… I find myself saying…. C’est la vie in Ghana… on a regular basis.  It’s definitely a great lesson in patience, acceptance, and in entering situations without expectations. And regardless, I’d say that’s pretty perfect for the theme of the party…

I also FINALLY made it to the farm both Thursday and Friday last week!  Which was such a relief.  Most of Ghana is always lively; full of energy and volume.  You can always hear some kind of upbeat song playing, whether it be a taxi driver passing by or a church.  Even as I’m writing this blog at 11:00 at night, I can hear a familiar hiplife song playing off in the distance.  And I am positive there are Ghanaians dancing nearby.  Did I mention that EVERYONE can dance here?  Even the little kids, which is probably why they are so good when they get older… Anyways, my point here before I began rambling (surprise, surprise), is that while I love the energy Ghana has, it’s wonderful to escape to the farm sometimes.  It is so peaceful out there and you can actually hear the breeze moving through the trees and smell the rich soil and be a part of something so much greater than yourself; something so wise and nurturing.  It was a break from the craziness, and was very much needed in my life this week.

The farm has completed a great deal of work since we last visited.  They have the first fish pond completely dug out and water has begun to fill it.  I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but they simply allow the water to come up from the ground (along with what little rain there is right now), instead of spending money to fill it, which obviously is much more sensible and practical.  They also had several sections with rows of cocoa seeds planted in small black bags.  We helped continue filling bags and weeding etc.  We also continued hauling out brush from the main area which is the future site of more fish ponds, once the money is available.

We found out on Thursday that we get to add on an extra exciting project!  Every Thursday from now on, Jordan and I will teach short lessons at the local school about the importance of agriculture.  I think I mentioned earlier in one of my blogs that there is a negative stigma here about farm work.  It is seen as punishment, as it is used as such when children are young and misbehave.  We want to help them to understand, especially at a young age, that this is a valuable livelihood they are turning away from.  We envision taking some children as volunteers and helping them to enjoy the work.  Now, I have NO clue how we are going to command the attention of a TON of kids, or even how to get them to stop cheering Obroni at us (the word for foreigner here)… But I suppose these are lessons to be learned…Tomorrow will be the trial run (:

University has definitely been what I call “a cultural experience” here… The education system is definitely very different here.. I have had some very interesting lectures, especially in my African Cultures class.  We often get on the topic of Ghanaian vs American, since there are 5 Americans in the class. We have compared different aspects of each culture, such as values, myths, taboos, customs, traditions etc.  I have made some awesome friends in my classes and I love sitting next to them; they always want to know how things are done in America, and we exchange stories and comparisons of our cultures.  It definitely makes for some interesting class debates…

I think the hardest part about the education system here is the method of teaching.  Frequently, the professor reads off definitions or concepts word for word to the students and they copy it, word for word… Although we are often asked “what comes to mind” or what we think, critical thinking is not really encouraged here, nor is it a part of the curriculum.  I was also told that usually, exams are a repetition of the professor’s words on paper.  After attending AppState, where critical thinking is not only encouraged, but expected, its difficult to switch over to an entirely different method.  But it’s definitely been interesting to see where others stand and how they view the world outside of their country.

Life has its daily challenges here…Things don’t always, or often, go as planned.  But it’s all part of the process, and I’m doing my absolute best to treat all challenges with positivity and acceptance.  I’m trying every day to better understand the culture I am a part of, to see why things are the way they are, and to learn as much as I can about life here, as well as about my own…  Time is flying here…but I’m trying to embrace every moment to the absolute fullest.  If there’s one thing my momma taught me it’s to do just that. To never waste a minute…and to always, always, always follow your heart.

“Surrender and not knowing is a way to release our struggle.  Remember to trust that life has a flow and that everything that is happening, where it is positive or negative, is in fact completely for our highest good.  Sometimes, the not knowing is in our highest.  Take what you can from your life experiences and learn from them.  Whatever is left over that perplexes you, let it go to the Universe or your Higher Self to work through. Feel the freedom and the liberation that occurs as a result.”

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