Tuesday, July 27, 2010

a few thoughts

  1. My mom and brother come to join me in Ghana. TOMORROW. I am SO excited!
  2. I leave my host family tomorrow. I am so NOT excited.
  3. I stop “living” in Ghana tomorrow and become a tourist.
  4. While living here in Ghana, I have slowly noticed I am becoming Ghanaian. Note these points:
    1. I have a tailored dress made from traditional African cloth
    2. Ghanaians commented to the seamstress as she was making it that they want one- same fabric, same cut
    3. I have my hair braided, complete with fake hair, the African way
    4. I stare at Obrunies in amazement when I see them
    5. The first word that comes to my mind when I see an Obruni is Obruni, not white person
    6. I can say a few important phrases in Twi
    7. I know what Twi is, and the correct way to pronounce it (ch-w-ee)
    8. I ride the tro-tro like I’ve been doing it my whole life
    9. No, I will not pay 4 Cedi to go from Circle to Accra Ridge in a taxi. (My white skin sometimes deceives drivers into thinking they can cheat me)
    10. My host mother says to me more and more each day, “You are typical Ghanaian.” and “African Woman!”
  5. This experience in Ghana has been amazing. I only wish I had more time. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010



Duh = The

Dat = That

Biscuit = Cookie

Tender = Thunder

Pawpaw = Papaya

Clean = Erase


You are welcome = Not a reply to “thank you,” it means that you are literally welcome to Ghana.

You are invited = Not to a party, as I first thought. It means you are invited/welcome to eat their food.

It’s finished = They don’t have anymore [bread/biscuits/pineapple/etc] at the market.

The down one = The bottom one

I'm coming = Hold on/Wait just a minute

Sentences I’ve heard that a month ago would have sounded ridiculous or not understood:

“You are welcome. How do you find Ghana?”
Everyone wants to know if you like Ghana, and that’s how they phrase it

“Don’t clean the down one! I haven’t finished copying it.”
Heard all the time at the school referring to work on the board

“So I grabbed an orange off her head...”
            People here carry and sell everything from off their heads.

“Can I have a satchel of water?”
            Yeah, I drink water from a bag.

Its really funny when the translation needs to be going the other way as well. If I ask a child if they are done, or tell them they need to erase something, I am met with blank stares and sometimes a “…what?” When I first got here I was helping Princess, my 6-year-old host sister, with her homework and was trying to tell her to add “the” to one of her sentences. She looked at me confused, so I tried to enunciate the “th” sound thinking that was the problem. Only I realized that was making it worse when she said “I don’t understand.” Finally I wrote out the word and she goes, “Ohhh! Duh!” Haha. Gotta love the accent barrier. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cape Coast Weekend

This trip actually occurred a few weekends ago. Remember the American friend I met at the Accra mall? Well the day after we met she called me up and invited me to go to Cape Coast with her that weekend. She was in touch with the missionary couple that lives down there and they invited to her stay with them.

Background: Cape Coast is a city about 3-4 hours west of Accra. It was the first capital of Britain’s Gold Coast colony, and is now the capital of Ghana’s central region.

Lindsie, that’s my American friend, had to work Saturday morning, so mid-afternoon I took the hour tro-tro ride to Achimota, the area of Accra that she works in. From Achimota we were going to catch a bus to Cape Coast. Our ticket said that the bus left at 3:30 pm. Note that time.

We were driven to the bus station by a guy Lindsie works with (his name is Emmanuel, yes that is also the name of my host brother and a ton of other guys here in Ghana), and arrived at exactly 3:30…only to realize we were at the WRONG station. We jumped back into the car, along with some random guy at the station that was going to tell us where to go, and sped off to the correct station. When we got there, no one could give us a straight answer as to where our bus was, if it even was there. Finally, we find out it left at 2:30 pm. Cool guys, thanks for putting 3:30 on our tickets…

But have no fear! Cape Coast was  to be gone to that weekend! Emmanuel drove us somewhere to pick up a tro-tro. Luckily, this tro-tro we ended up getting was much nicer that the typical tro-tros that commute within the city. We actually were not jam-packed against the people sitting around us, and the seats were big enough for us to sit [somewhat] comfortably on!

We met a couple friends in the tro-tro that taught us some common phrases in a few different Ghanaian languages. (There are 78 languages in Ghana).

After about 3 hours in the tro-tro, Lindsie and I were dropped off in Cape Coast. We were the only two alighting there, the rest were going another hour. It seemed that we were dropped off in the middle of nowhere, but apparently it was the taxi station.

Elder and Sister Saunders, the missionary couple we were staying with, was soon there to pick us up. They took us back to their apartment, which was like a dream come true to me. Air conditioning. Filtered water. Hot water. American food. What more could I want?

Sister Saunders made us a delicious American [Mexican] meal of chicken enchiladas. I don’t think I can describe to you how incredibly happy I was. I’ve never understood how hard it is to eat foreign food, until now. No McDonalds even exists here. So to see and smell and taste American food for the first time in two weeks was absolutely heavenly. Lindsie also made pudding. aka CHOCOLATE. At this point I was pretty sure my life was complete.

We arrived late on Saturday, so we didn’t do anything else that night. Sunday we went to church with the Saunders in a village called Abucrumpa (the first few times they said this town name I could have sworn they were saying Abercrombie). We first stopped at the mission home to exchange their car into basically a tro-tro so that we could pick up about 10 people.

So Ghana’s national language is English, right? Right. Does that mean everyone here speaks English? Absolutely not. The Abucrumpa branch was entirely in Fanti, one of the four main Ghanaian languages. Ok I lied. It was fast Sunday, so the children that bore their testimonies bore them in English. Think about how the children in the states normally bear their testimonies. Its completely different here. These Ghanaian children instead recite verses. “I take my testimony from Matthew 12:25…” And then they would say the verse from memorization. It was really adorable and amazing.

After church we piled back into the tro-tro mission van, dropped everyone off at various stops, then went back to the Saunders. They had invited over a recent convert family for lunch. The man’s story is pretty neat. Here is the summary:

Paul was a minister of another faith in his small village. But he always knew that the actual true church of Christ would have a prophet and 12 apostles. He searched, came in contact with the church through a friend, but never though much of it. One night as he was praying, the phrase “Latter-Day Saint” came into his mind. He immediately sought out the church. He was baptized in March. Ordained in April. And baptized the rest of his family in May.

Paul and his family were very sweet and kind. Paul was hilarious too. We had an American meal and kept saying that if they didn’t like it then they didn’t have to eat it and Paul over and over said, “I go to America. I need to learn.”

The sister missionaries came over after lunch and I was able to participate in a lesson about Temples to this convert family. It was a neat experience. The family was so very humble and eager to learn.

Lindsie and I then accompanied Elder Saunders to take Paul and his family back to their village. The drive was an hour down an extremely hilly and bumpy dirt road in the middle of what seemed like a forest. It was quite the drive. The village was incredible. It was the type of village you think of when you think “Africa.” The people lived basically in mud houses with aluminum roofs. The houses were the size of my living room in my apartment at BYU. It amazes me that people actually live that way. They must be a very special people the Lord knew could not only handle it, but be happy as well. I respect them very much.

That was basically the extent of my weekend in Cape Coast. I did meet another sister missionary companionship later that night. I also enjoyed an ice cream cone, popcorn, and more pudding.

P.S. I know that I have not described what a tro-tro is yet. But I will. I just really want to show pictures, and my inability to put pictures on my comp right now is making that impossible. Just be patient:)

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Yesterday I had a girl’s night [post to come with more details] with my two American friends here. The night brought us to the Accra mall, to the movie theatre upstairs, and in front of the broadcast studio for one of Ghana’s radio stations. The three of us were quite amazed because it had glass all around it, so we could see the DJ’s in there with all their equipment. They also had the station playing on speakers outside the room.

Being the silly girls we are, we just stood in front of the glass and stared. Then all of a sudden from the speakers, aka the radio, we hear;

“Hello to the Obrunis outside!”

And the DJ started waving to us.

So yeah, we were mentioned on Ghana Radio.

So basically, I’m famous. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Typical Day in Ghana

6:45 am—wake up to my annoying travel alarm clock.
            —take a [cold] shower.

7:30 am—eat breakfast, usually bread, and recently bofango (er something like that, I just mostly made that name up) which I just discovered. They are somewhat similar to doughnuts, but I think its more like a deep fried something.

7:45-8:30 am—catch a tro-tro to the junction by the school (notice the wide range of time, many tro-tros pass me during this time, but all are usually full).

8:00-830 am—walk from Junction to the school, about 10 min walk down a dirt road

8:30 am-2:00/3:00 pm—teach and assist in the school! I love those African children.

Between 2:30-3:30 pm—take the tro-tro back to Kwabenya (that part of Accra I stay in), usually go to Lizzy’s (my host mom’s) shop/restaurant, eat a little something, hang out and read or go back to the house

4:00 pm—Usually hit up the internet that I now have in my room. Designated time for skyping family and friends…er…friend. Before I got smart and bought a modem, I used to go to the internet cafĂ© at about this time.

5:00-10:00 pm—I do various things. Hang out at the shop. Try to come up with lesson plans that I don’t actually get to use at the school. Write blogs. Read. Eat dinner (these days its Indomie, aka Raman Noodles. It used to be chicken and rice. My picky taste buds aren’t a fan of most Ghanaian foods). Go on the internet more if I’m bored. Hang out [watch soccer/movies] with Eunice, my host sister.

10:00 pm—This is the time I plan to be in bed by, but somehow it never happens. I’ll keep wishing though, and stick it here at 10 pm.

Friday, July 9, 2010

American Friends in Ghana

Last Thursday, July 1, was a holiday her in Ghana. I went to the Accra mall (30-60 min drive from where I stay) with my host brother Emmanuel and his friends. While he was hanging out with his girlfriend I decided to do some window shopping. As I was walking along, minding my own business, I saw across the way the missionaries! (Mormon missionaries for those not of my faith, or Latter-Day missionaries for my Ghana friends). This was a miracle. I had been trying in vain to get a hold of the church for almost two weeks. I practically ran the missionaries down screaming (okay not really, I just walked to up them, but that doesn’t sound as cool) and explained to them my situation and that I wanted to come to church on Sunday. They were not the missionaries of my area, so they gave me a phone number for those missionaries. Then one of the Elders said, “We just met another girl in ShopRight from Utah. Do you want to go and see if she is still there?” Uh hello! I’ve seen about a total of two white people in two weeks, and ZERO Mormons! Take me take me!

So we went back to ShopRight (the only place around here that sells American food) and luckily she was still there! We exchanged phone numbers and I started feeling so much better about life here in Ghana. It was just nice to have a little connection with someone! And that connection led me to a trip to Cape Coast, and some more American and Mormon friends. That story will be saved for a later post. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Uniqueen Academy

Uniqueen is the school is work at. It is a nursery (pre-) school and kindergarten. The school is two rooms, built from stone and concrete, with a metal slab for the roof. The school owner, Eunice, has build the school from the ground up. She is an amazing woman, read her full story about the school here: http://www.uniqueenkindergarten.com/storey.html. Seriously, the story is worth your time.

I work mostly with the kindergarten class. They have it split- KG1 and KG2, but they are in the same classroom and do things together some of the time. KG1 is about 5 children, and KG2 has 9.

The children are adorable. Almost everyday when I arrive at the school I am greeted with the chant “Auntie Katie, you are wel-come, Auntie Katie you are wel-come!” Then as more children come into the school they greet the teacher by either a curtsey (girls) or salute (boys) and say “Auntie please good morning.” To which I, or a teacher, will reply “Good morning, how are you?” And the child, “Fine, thank you, and you?”

The way they do school here is drastically different than in the states. It is actually may be similar to what we did years ago. When the children read, they read in unison as a group. When they are misbehaving, they are whacked by the teacher. They write, write, write all day long. Even the three-year olds. They have their little notebooks; the preschoolers write numbers, letters, and even short words; the kindergarteners write sentences, addition, subtraction, and even some multiplication.

I’ll be honest, my philosophies for teaching children are drastically different than how they do it here. It has taken me a while to be okay with the fact that I am not here to change Ghana’s curriculum or ways of teaching. While what they are doing is far from developmentally appropriate, they are doing what they can with the knowledge and resources that they have.

Hopefully I will be able to put up pictures of the school and the children soon! 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

blast from the past...or a couple months ago.

Remember how I posted about that road trip a while back? Well I realized that I never posted about where we actually went. So here’s a quick post about that.

Sun Valley

We arrived in Sun Valley, to my buddy Jeff’s family cabin, on Friday and stayed until Monday. The weekend consisted of bowling, hot tubbing, hiking, eating, napping, puzzle making, movie watching, and shopping. Enjoy the pictures! (P.S. I started to edit them online, but since internet costs here, the end ones did not get any edits)



Attempt at the “Hot” Springs…Failed


Just Having Fun

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