Volta Region Mountains

Volta Region Mountains

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lights, Cameras, Action!

Because I live in one of the more prominent neighborhoods in the country, most of my neighbors run very successful businesses. And all the people in my neighborhood know very successful and famous people! Last night I was introduced to theater actor who runs a theater academy in the city. He was impressed when I was telling him about my school here and some of the crazy stories at school and my time here so far. He was impressed because he thought my stories would make perfect story lines for his students at his school! I am now an official volunteer/intern at this school! I will spend the weekends, and some days after school there! On my first day there, I basically got familiar with the area and the programs that they offer! Then I showed him the home video that my best friend and I made, just the two of us. They were very impressed with my editing and that I could re create the story line with just two people! Sara, we are the bomb  I will be editing a lot of their recordings because they use the same editing program that I used. So, they were impressed with that! Then I was pitching ideas for TV shorts that have to do with Ghanaian ways of livings, but adding a comical twist to them. It was easy for me to give ideas because everything here is different and all fresh in my mind! And it is easy for me to notice what the Ghanaian culture makes frenzy over! If any of them get made into a digital short or anything, I will share them with you! A documentary of theirs is getting put onto a national channel here, and I helped them edit it today! They are also in the process of making commercials for an audition they have coming up, so I get to help with creating the commercials and help at the auditions! I really lucked out! They also said that if they make a skit that involves a white girl, I could play the part! I will also be teaching the junior group with acting exercises. So, I will get to work with six year olds! I’m excited about that! Here is their website if you want to check it out: www.kboatengacademy.com

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Canning really does exsist!

So, today in my first period class, math(s), a man with a skinny stick starts walking past my classroom with an angry look on his face. He came to my class and started yelling to the class because no one swept the hall way. The boarders were supposed to. He told all the boarders to go into the hall and then he yelled at them, then started hitting them with the stick!! He hit them on their hands, legs, and butt. I wanted to go out there and and take the stick from the man and hit him! An eye for an eye! I was so disturbed by it. The classrooms are set up as one long hallway, and then class rooms off the one side of the hallway. There are shutters on both sides of the classrooms to allow a cross breeze to come through. So, when the man canned pretty much all the girls, I could see and hear everything perfectly. My jaw dropped to the floor and my eyes were wide open. The math teacher (this completely awkward little guy haha) came over because he saw my reaction, and he said to me "don't worry, you will never get hit", and I was thinking in my head, NO ONE should be getting hit!!! Then the girls came back, some crying. I felt so bad. I've heard that they cane people here, but I didn't believe it! Now I do. I would just like to make it clear: CANNING IS STILL UTILIZED AS A MODERN PUNISHMENT.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I’m Christian now? Wait, what just happened?!

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL….not at all what I expected…I got the culture shock that I asked for…let me tell you that. Let me back up. I’ll explain my day. I wake up at 6:30am so that I can leave the house by 7:00am and get to school by 7:15am. The gates lock at 7:15, so I have to walk fast. Then I get to the school and I see some one that is in my class walking to class as well (I went to school for a couple days last week to meet my classmates and find my classes). So, I’m walking to my class room and all of the boarding students are doing their chores i.e. sweeping, raking, scrubbing, dusting, etc. (the boarders wake up at 5am everyday to do chores…). Then I get to my classroom and some of the students are there already, they all greet me! They are all extremely nice and welcoming! But every single person told me that my uniform was too big and that I need to iron it. I was getting tired of hearing it. It’s not like I could do anything at that moment. Then they told me to take of my necklace. My necklace is small, but it has names on it: mom, dad, aidan, kellen, alec, sara, and sunny. And when I had to take it off, I almost broke down crying. I felt like I was officially giving up my life in Seattle. It was early and all the attention was on me, and ya. I was just stressed. But everyone was just being nice and welcoming me and cluing me in! Then we had to go to Morning Assembly (this happens every morning for 30 minutes before classes start (school starts at 8 and ends at 2:20)) and everyone lined up according to grade. They put me in form 2, so all of the older kids boss the younger ones around. If a from 4 girl tells a form 2 girl to “shut up and come here”, that form 2 girl better get over there! The older students can hit the younger students AND make them do chores! Anyways, during the assembly there was a preacher, and he was saying that god is good, and that we live through God and stuff. I don’t have a religion so I was just going along with it. Then when I got back to class, the teacher decided to not show up (the teachers live on campus…how do they not show up?) so all of the students were asking me: do you have a bible? What religion do you follow? Do you know how to pray? Do you even pray? Where do you go to church? Do you know the story of Adam and Eve? Do you pray when you wake up/go to bed/get food? And all of these questions. I said no to all of them of course haha. They were shocked! They didn’t even believe me! I thought I had lost all of my friends at that moment, they were disgusted with me. They thought I was going to hell. Then they all offered to give me their bible because I need “help” and God brought me here for a reason…I did not take it! I said “oh no! I can’t take your bible! I would feel so bad!”. But in the end, some girl gave me her ‘A Prayer a Day’ book…the class made me read scripts from the bible, out loud. Then they made me summarize what I had just read…WHAT IS THIS!! THIS IS SCHOOL! NOT BIBLE STUDY! Then they asked me if I listen to Kanye or Beyonce or any of those singers, and of course I do! They said “you are worshiping the devil by listening to that kind of music”…OMG. Then they said that if I don’t pray, then I won’t wake up the next day…hey, I have been good for almost 17 years…I’m still waking up every single morning. Even if I don’t want to. I’m not against religion at all; I’m completely respectful towards it! If someone wants to believe in God, then go for it! I will watch. But this one little girl (she’s 15, but tiny) comes and sits next to me and wants to pray. She held my hands and told me to close my eyes and repeat what she says…sketchy huh? After 5 min, she says “You are now converted to Christianity”. I WAS IN COMPLETE SHOCK!!!!!!!!!!!! This kid just scammed me into a religion! Now everyone only talks about religion to me and reads stuff out of the bible and tells me what to say. They even wrote me a thing that I’m supposed to say when I go to bed and wake up. When they asked me the next day if I read it, I lied and said I did, I’m definitely going to hell. But the thing is how I can go to hell if I don’t believe it! Then they asked how man was born, I said “from an evolution of the species of apes over billions of years”, WHY WOULD I SAY THAT! I should have just said “God loves”, and I could have saved myself from a 30 min lecture on how man is here and what not. Why won’t the Teachers show up! But some teachers did show up, and the classes that were taught that day were: Science, English, general living, and history. They have a block schedule, so the classes change each day. One thing I noticed about what they learn is that the schools don’t teach them about the world, just Ghana in itself. And every lesson is backed with a moral. These kids have no idea what a geyser is, because they don’t have them in Ghana. They don’t know where Denmark is, because it is “irrelevant”. They don’t know about cultures in other countries, because they don’t have the same culture in Ghana. And the English class is basically a bible with spelling mistakes that the students need to correct i.e. is the “g” in god capitalized? The school is a cult!! And I’m the devil that needs to be reborn and saved! Everyone is trying to help me because they all want to go to heaven. Everyone also wants me to go back to Seattle and convert everyone, and go to church. That is NOT going to happen! I’m not going to force someone to change! All of the girls and guys look the same because the hair has to be less than ½ a centimeter long. So, everyone is bald pretty much. The only ways you can distinguish a guy from a girl are the clothes or earrings. There is no creativity or individualism at this school. The students sleep, do shores, go to “school”, eat, do chores, “study”, bathe, then go to bed. Then, today at school, I had one class, math. And the teacher came late. We spent 50 min learning how to subtract, and then divide that answer by 2…i.e. 45-44=1. Now ½=0.5…it was so frustrating! And I wasn’t taking notes on it because it was so simple! Then the teacher kept asking if I were confused…and I just kept saying “no sir”, a million times. Then we had a 35 minute break, we have 3 throughout the day. Then we had an “opening assembly”, which means too many teachers didn’t come to school today, so they have a 3-4 hour assembly consisting of gospel songs, holy songs, church choir songs, readings from the bible, and announcements from the headmistress. By the way, stealing, lying, cheating, raping, disrespecting your teachers, and breaking the school rules are bad. Just in case that wasn’t logic to the everyday person, I just clued you in. Late in the day a famous soccer player came to the school, everyone went crazy. I had goose bumps from the shrills. It was exciting though! He went to this school, so he came to share his stories with us. Also, when a teacher comes into the classroom, the students must stand up until they tell you to sit. And when they call on you, you must stand up from your seat to answer the question, with your left hand behind you. The left hand is disrespectful here. By the way, the food is really good! They have like a mini market strip, and you can get whatever you want! And the cooked food is all homemade! Yesterday I had Ghanaian fried rice. And today I had a Ghanaian spring roll. The food is really good, and they make it in front of you. Only the day school kids can get food at the strip, the boarders need to eat in the dining hall. But we all just eat in the classroom. I get plantain chips every day, they are the best! But anyways, sorry the form of this really long blog. It is really messy thrown in with some random tidbits. There is just so much going through my mind that I just kept writing. I hope this makes sense…haha if you have any questions, go ahead and ask! After reading this, don’t think that I hate school or Christians or anything. I’m having a great time here, and I am just completely shocked that people are THAT religious, and that religion is practiced in school, and that there is no world view. Love and miss you all!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Written Language? I don't think so...

So, here in Ghana I have learned that there is not a written way of communicating. Mostly everyone can NOT read or write! Ghana's cultural dialect, Twi, is not officially recorded anywhere. To teach their children Twi, they created something called "Pigeon". It is the mix between Twi and English. English is the official language because Ghana used to be a British colony.

You know how texting lingo, you just shorten words or use numbers as words? Well, Ghanaians just text as they hear the words. That is the reason why technology is not as advanced. Because typing what you want to find in the Google search box is impossible! Because they don't know how to spell! Crazy!!

Friday, January 22, 2010


So, I officially start school on Monday, but I have been there the past two days to get my classes set up and get my books ready. My school has 2,000 kids in it and 75% of them are boarders, the other 25% (including me) just go to day school. The school campus is huge! There are two cafeterias, all set up with yummy Ghanaian food. There are certain buildings for certain subjects. At this school, there are different ‘majors’ that you would test into. There are math, science, language, literature, and the vocational arts (which include home economics and visual arts). I heard that the science and math subjects are extremely boring, so I decided to do something more hands on and something that relates more to the culture. Therefore, I chose home economics. They put me in form 2, which has the equivalence of a sophomore In the USA. When they showed me around, they showed me the model home, where they teach students how to clean the house and make the beds and what not. And then they showed me the sewing room, where you learn the science of textures and then sew. Then they showed me the food and nutrition room. Here they explain the different methods of cooking and I will also learn how to cook Ghanaian meals! I will be focusing on food and nutrition. I am really excited! I will also be taking a science class, PE class, math class, home cleaning class, and some abbreviated classes that I don’t understand. When I was introduced to my class today, I was swarmed by 32 school girls grabbing me and wanting me to sit next to them! They have all told me their names 50 times, but I feel bad that I can’t remember them! They all ask me “I’m your best friend, right?” haha, and I say “Of course!!”. They also asked me if I have been to East High (the high school in High School Musical…)!! I told them that the school exists but the school is not real, it is just a movie. They also can’t wait to see me in my school uniform; they think it will be hilarious to see a white girl in their uniform. I am the only white person there. Everyone is so nice! The staff and students! They all talk to me in Twi, and I have no idea what they are saying. I’m excited to be a full time student again on Monday! Their semester started 3 weeks ago, so I have a lot to learn!!
Also, I am so happy I know French. All the neighboring countries speak French, so a lot of the merchants only speak French. So, I have actually gotten a lot of practice! And all of the shampoos and stuff I buy in the legit grocery stores are in French. So I know what I am buying. And when I speak French, it is exciting and respectful. So, why not!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I don't know what the title should be...

So, today Kuma (my host dad/brother) was at work, so I hung out with Valerie, Kuma's friend. She works from home and goes into La Bone to visit her shop. She works at a clothing store. Everything is hand made and hand dyed, it's cool! Then I went out on my own for the first time to try to find flip flops (or as they call them "slippers"). I'm so stupid, I only packed one pair of flip flops. This one guy tried to get me to pay 35cedi for a pair! I told him I would give him 5cedi. He didn't go for it. But my bargaining skills paid off when I bought a painting thing. I was proud of myself. I was proposed to today. This guy loves me. I passed him a couple of times and he says "Celea!! I love you!!", I just say "ok, I have to go..." haha. He made me a bracelet. He saw me later and asked where it was (because I was not wearing it). I felt bad. Haha. It's a fun town! very busy and exciting. I feel very safe walking around alone. I'm going salsa dancing later with Kuma and Valerie and their friends, should be fun! and embarrassing!

Everyone was in a good mood today because Ghana won the "football" match last night! I watch so much soccer...yay. The world cup is coming up!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shocking but pretty AWESOME!

Accra and Ghana is so cool! I've been adjusting to so many different things! Even looking out my window is completely different. Here are some things that I keep remembering...

1.We went to church on Sunday, it was 2.5 hours long...I have never been to a church service before, so it was very different. There was a lot of standing, kneeling, praying, and sitting. I just followed what the locals were doing. Everyone stared because I am white, but I'm used to it now. People take pictures, and I just smile. I just go along with it. It is the best way to deal with stuff. When they call me Oboni (in twi:white person) you just smile and say hi. People here are just curious and want to meet you.

2.The water safety and other health concerns are kind of a joke. You cant control anything. I take my malaria medicine, and that's all I do. People laugh if they see you wearing sunscreen or putting bug spray on. The water is of course is a concern, but "You adapt to it". I use it to brush my teeth and wash my hands, it's not a HUGE deal. The stuff I bought in America can't control half of the things that I am warned about. I.e. the city is dusty. Not smoggy, but legit dust in the air. It gets in my eyes and in my throat. And if you leave your clothes out to dry, it can cause infections on your skin, due from the dust and sweat mixed together. But I'm not really worried.

3.The electricity goes off unexpectedly. The power just shuts off...it's kinda fun though, it's like a surprise! It turns on eventually, apparently they are shutting off the power in Accra from 8am to 5pm one of these days. I don't know haha

4.The food is different. It's not terrible. But I NEED sugar and salt. They don't use either ingredient in their food. I usually eat rice, chicken, seafood, vegetables, noodles...all topped with a SPICY sauce. I don't like spicy food...YET!

5.Everything you buy on the streets comes out of a Pouch. Water, ice cream, milk, etc. It's fun! You just bite off the corner and suck it out haha

6.Every guy wants to marry you. I am white and somewhat blond, paired with blue eyes. I just greet them, and tell them I have to go. They leave me alone if I talk to them for a couple of minutes.

7.Language Barrier and accent is very difficult to understand. I am learning Twi, it is exciting! French is spoken here and is on a lot of signs and buildings, and there is a guy who is Belgium French, so we have talked a little. I love french.

8.There are "nick-names" for everyone depending on what day they are born. I was born on Monday, so my name is Ajoua. If a Ghanaian asks what your name is, and you give them your Ghanaian name, they are very impressed! Except...one time I was talking to these little village kids that were watching me, and I said "Me din de Ajoua! Bra!" = "my name is Monday, come over here!". But the 'j' in my name sounded like 'sh', which changed the word to "prostitute"......now I know why they ran away............

9.The weather is HOT. And it changes every day. But is always hot. I'm ok with it though. I would rather sweat than shiver. My wish came true. It is extremely humid here.

10.The drivers are CRAZY. There are no rules and people drive on the side walks. The stop lights don't work, and when they do, they are optional. It's kind of fun, but kind of scary. I'm pretty sure our bus hit the car in front of it, and they just yelled at each other from their seats then drove off.

11.There is no water pressure. The shower just drizzles. It makes showers annoying, but I'm getting used to it. Also, the nozzle for the toilet is on the opposite side, so that trips me up haha

12.The music is fun! There is some American music mixed in, but for the most part, it is techno-contemporary.

14.EVERYTHING is dirt cheap here. I'm going to get a nice church dress made for me soon. I choose the fabric the style and everything about it! I can even get matching shoes! all for 25 dollars! "couture!!"

15.There is no such thing as time here. We are constantly late, like 2 hours late. To everything. It's normal, but it bothers me and stresses me out. I'm always early. This will be a bad habit...

16.Ghanaian s have ZERO patience. They don't follow rules either. They rush to everything, and don't like people blocking the way, but they walked annoyingly slow, it's very confusing. They only time I saw order and patience was at church.

17.People apparently aren't registered. And there is not a "data system" like in America. People don't have forms, registrations, or proofs of purchase. They speak English, but their culture is oral, not written. They expect foreigners to be smarter technologically and critically.

18.Ghana is 'phase 3'...phase 1 is America or Europe, phase 2 is Asia, and phase 3/4 is Africa...which means that Ghana is not up to quality. But people from phase 1 say that about phase 3 countries...so of course they are going to say that Ghana is in trouble! I think it is fine. If people grew up this way, they would know no different and think their country is just fine. It's just the way of life.

Anyways, this is long, and I need to get going, I'll update you the next time I find internet! By the way, they have wifi here, so, it's not the most undeveloped country in the world. I don't want to proof read this...I'm lazy and uncomfortably sweaty, I need to walk around. So, I apologize for grammatical errors! Until then!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New York Orientation

So, today after a 4 or 5 hour flight I arrived in New York! I had instructions to 1. Claim my luggage and 2. Head to the AirTrain and catch a shuttle to the hotel. Ya..these instructions were not as straight forward as they sound...It took me 45 minutes to get to the shuttle center...lol. But a girl with yellow tags on her bags was waiting there, so I knew I wasn't alone! Then as we were looking for New York City, we realized we were in Queens haha, fun stuff! Then we got our room assignments and chilled out. My roommate hadn't shown up yet. Then 45 min later, Amy opens the door! She is a junior also, and lives in Idaho, and will also be going to Ghana! Then as the rest of the group arrived (10 of us total. 5 to Portugal. 5 to Ghana.) Then we just did orientation stuff i.e.lectures, safety tips, preparation activities etc...

Then we all just got to know each other! Everyone is very nice! But everyone has an accent except Amy, me, and this one guy from West Seattle haha. It's amusing! Everyone else is from New York, Chicago, and Texas. There are two girls in my group that are doing community service in Ghana. They will be assistant teachers at primary schools, and living with a teacher for the semester. The one girl lives near me in Accra, so I might stop by one day and check out the school and the little kids!

Well, That's what I did today! Not too exciting, just familiarizing myself with people and customs! Tomorrow is going to be a long day with "work". That's what our AFS volunteer said..haha. Then we are all heading out to our final destinations! Our orientation in Accra is supposed to be a lot of fun! We are going to take tours and see landmarks, I'm really excited! Then after a couple of days, I will start school! Much more to come!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Looking Forward

My name is Celea and I reside in the greater Seattle area. I am a junior in high school, and in a few days I will be on a plane to Ghana for the semester through the organization, AFS. I chose to send myself 7,354 miles away from home to explore this country for its community, language, and all there is to learn that comes with its culture. I plan to gain knowledge and appreciation in the people that I meet, experience the many different cultures, become fearless to foreign foods, and make life long friends. I am most excited to attend a local school and experience the difference in education and teaching style. Most people think that I am going to school in a hut...I assure you that I am not. My new school looks very exciting, equipped with computers, uniforms, activities, sports, clubs, and a strict list of do's and don't's. It should be very different from my Blue Ribbon High School, but I have a feeling this school will be just as enriching. I can not wait to start my adventure! I will become extremely saddened as the next few days go by, but once I'm on that plane, I am going! This experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am ready to take it on!

To my friends and family: I will miss and love you all!

Until next time!