Hello again this is Jazmine again! when I first entered Ghana I knew I was there! I could just feel the heat like I was in a hot oven! I had to take of my layers of clothes because I just came from Canada were it was winter so that’s why I had so much clothes on! I can smell the nice fire wood burning! everybody is welcoming me and wanting to carry my language! The roads in the city kind of reminded me of the states because they had a play toll! Culturally all the young girls had there hair shaved off! I knew some Africans but I wasn’t expecting there heads to be shaved! I was able to fit in right away socially because everyone is so open but I thing me not being able to speak there general language chi is creating a barrier! But all in all everything is great!
Hello this is Jazmine Dickson and I am in Ghana at Kinder Paradise! My motivation to come aboard and complete my last year field placement was my family, friends and myself! I thought this would be a life changing experience to go to a different country and use my skills what I learned from Child and Youth program and gain new skills from the workers here! I hope I would be able to see a change for the better in the hope of kids! I hope I hope I can leave a positive mark in this children’s lives and they will always remember!
I want to urge all Centennial students to take part in the opportunities that Centennial offers with regards to GCELE’s and GEO Adventures – Do you know how lucky we are no other College I am aware of offers students these opportunities – Centennial pays for and organizes these experiences and is also supportive while abroad. Our world is dealing with the growth of globalization and our students will be more prepared to handle this then others – remember to mention when interviewing for jobs our GNED 500 class, no other school has this class or a Global Citizen Passport and that sets us out from the crowd, employers like this.
The GCELE program and GEO Adventures are young programs, so ask a lot of questions when choosing to take part, be sure you apply to programs that are applicable to you and your goals, they are not holidays but real experiences that allow you to grow as an individual and expand your knowledge base – if you want to drink all night and sleep in – Party on in Canada, this may not be for you… For those seeking a real life experience this is for you. I have been lucky to take part in both a GCELE to Peru last March 2012 and am in Ghana currently on a GEO Adventure – these experiences have changed me – I look at the world differently – It is hard to find the words but I feel different too.
The friends I have made are from all corners of the world and will be friends for life, people on these programs are somewhat like minded, so you already have something in common – you where all brave enough to say yes to an opportunity! The group I went to Peru with are really an extension of family now and the friends I have made in Ghana have made my experience, Africa is harsh and I thank god everyday I have my Ghana family, without them I may not have stuck it out, to be honest I had doubts the first couple weeks I could handle it here – but I am so happy I have stuck it out! The things in life that challenge us make us stronger this is very true about this experience I may have learned a lot here but mostly through making mistakes –sometimes those lessons are the most valuable… There is a African proverb I find very appropriate “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”
I wish all my fellow Centennial students all the best and hope you will consider these opportunities…
To check out the current opportunities go to these links
I arrived in Accra, Ghana 5 days ago… Nothing is as I thought but this is good news!
I was unsure who would meet me at the airport and was pleasantly surprised to be meet by 3 people – Waqas, Awo and Ano’s, which are the people I will work with and for while in Ghana. It was a very nice welcome! Welcome in Twi is “Akwaaba” – The major language here is English and Twi.
I was escorted to the house where I am staying for 1 week while I sort out my own accommodations – My housemates are great – There is one Canadian named Waqas and 4 Australians, Rachel, Cassie, Adam and Renee. I was concerned about accommodations but no more – I have hot water, which I did not expect – a comfortable queen size bed – a TV – A/C – a great kitchen and even a washer, which was totally unexpected… I am being spoiled I think as I understand most people here don’t even have running water in there house’s… I am happy to report my house mates have asked me to stay on for the duration of my time in Ghana, which is wonderful and I am thrilled! When you look at accommodation rates online in Canada they put the rates high but once you are here negotiations are common and the price can come down almost half the price you will see online. I am grateful for this surprise!
So far there have been many surprises but they are pleasant surprises!
One exception though is I have not been able to with draw money from the bank machines – This is very frustrating…
Other wise all is well and better then expected!
The friends I have made are all so nice and have been great showing me around – I have now learned how to take public transit – it is called a Tro Tro. It is not like a bus we are used to in Canada but it works fine.
The work I am doing is very interesting too – I am sure I will write more about it in the future but everyday I read the paper and look for issues that pertain to women and children. It is very interesting and a wonderful way to understand the issues that people are most affected by in Ghana.
How to make a variety of meals with only a stove top
How to speak a little bit of Twi
How to walk for hours without getting tired
How to urinate outside (LOL)
To put bug spray ALL over my body, not just exposed skin
That ants here bite and it’s very painful
How to cross the street, which sometimes feels more like the playing in traffic that your mother always warned you against
How to bargain the prices of EVERYTHING… I was told by my coworker that I can bargain better then most locals, sometimes it takes 20 minutes, but HEY I like good prices 😉
That there are truly kind strangers everywhere in Ghana – I have had people walk me to places and go way out of there way, got free taxi and tro-tro rides, people have given me free stuff (African clothes, fabrics, produce, food, etc.)
That it starts getting dark here by 6:00pm and is pitch black 6:30pm YEAR ROUND
That ‘sacked’ here means getting fired (not kicked in your private parts) LOL that was a funny discussion between me and my boss
That Canadians are not the only ones who say ‘Eh’
Men here like women who have some extra ‘meat’ on their bones. They believe that if this is the case, it means your family is wealthy because they are able to provide you with plenty of food
Ghanains like to laugh A LOT and humour can be a life saver here
The words ‘plastic bag’ here do not exist, they are called ‘rubbers’
Almost everything under the sun comes in black ‘rubbers’
Hitting children with just about any item that is close by is acceptable (comb, purse, shoe, wallet, stick, cane, etc.)
That I can survive without air conditioning, Yeah meeee!
How to hand wash clothes (although I HATE doing it)
That I will not die if I don’t use hand sanitizer 10+ times a day
That I can survive without hot water
My Ghanaian name – Afua (Friday born)
That you cannot survive in Africa without a back pack
That sometimes I just had to accept the fact that I had no clue what kind of animal I was eating and I just hoped for the best
That you don’t really need to lotion your body here because you sweat so much that your skin never gets dry
That freshening up here includes washing your face AND feet
That wearing bras are not necessary for girls and women (where have we gone wrong North America!)
That the used clothing market here is HUGE (I saw a man wearing a Tim Horton’s uniform shirt recently, I had a proud Canadian moment). They even sell used underwear, which they are trying to due away with due to the spreading of illnesses
That I can only eat so many canned sardines until I look at them and feel like I am going to be sick
That I can survive on a mainly vegetarian diet
That nearly EVERYTHING is cheaper in Ghana (food, fabric, hand made things, clothes, shoes, etc.)
That jet lag can last up to 2 weeks (2 days my bottom!!!!)
That take-out food is sold in small clear plastic bags and tied (you have to pay extra for take-out containers)
That if you don’t know better, locals will over charge you at least double (taxis, food, tro-tro’s, clothes, etc.)
That the majority of Ghanaians believe that anyone who is white is filthy rich
That I love local food, but only recently has it stopped making me sick
How to do just about everything with my right hand (using left hand for many things is not acceptable here)
Sadly, given the opportunity some people will pick pocket or steal from you. It happened to me recently, it’s the reality of being a foreigner in a 3rd world country
That you pay cash for EVERYTHING here, no one has debit or credit machines and if they do, they don’t work
This journey has certainly marked me for life and taught me so much about myself, others and the world around me. I would recommend everyone take a journey to a foreign country by him or herself if they want to figure out exactly who they are and what makes them ‘tick’. This global experience has had many up’s and down’s, many laughs and many tears. I LOVE GHANA and the people of Ghana. I do not think I really experienced Ghana until I began to befriend locals. Never have I met a group of people that are as funny, welcoming, eager to help, quick to speak their minds and proud of their culture as I have encountered here in Ghana. Yes, Ghana has many issues in their education system, in the ill treatment of girls/women, in the unemployment rates, the list goes on and on, but I have concluded that they are a people with heart. Their culture is based in Christian values and they fight hard to maintain those values in a world that has become dominated by secularism. As a Christian myself, it has been so refreshing being in Ghana and having co-workers pray for each other, listening to gospel music at work, encountering children who know the bible better then I do and seeing so many people honour the Sabbath day (Sunday).
Recently, the president John Evans Atta Mills passed away. It has never happened before in Ghana that a president passed away while in office. The city is filled with tribute to him in signs and ribbons of red and black all over the streets and cars.
When he first passed away, I was a little bit worried that their might be violence in the streets. However, as the days passed, I saw that people were very peaceful and simple dressed in black and red more. This is one of the things that Ghanaians pride themselves in, their peaceful nature. Ghana has never experience any civil unrest and the people of Ghana are easy going in comparison to other African nations.
So I have been thinking lately, how will I finish my Ghana adventure? This has been on my mind for a few weeks. I think for a while I was so homesick that I forgot that time is running out. I have decided to make the very most of my last 20 days. Here are some of the things I plan to do:
Take sewing lessons from my amazing seamstress
Take drum lesson with my newly purchased drum
Attend several cultural events this weekend
Go out for dinner with a co-worker at a highly recommended pizza place near my work place
Use the money I fund raised at Centennial from both staff, students and my family to buy school supplies at the market for needy school children
Donate the school supplies to at non-governmental organization – JayNii Streetwise Foundation, an organization that provides supports to street, orphaned and extremely poor kids in James Town, Accra
Go to the beach to complete my tan
Have my seamstress finish the clothes I am having made
Buy another suitcase to bring home all my African purchases (hoping they will all fit!)
Tro tro’s – they are cheap, they can get you anywhere and they come often
Being referred to as “the white one”
Having children chant “Obruni obruni obruni” in a sing-song manner
People greeting each other just because
Buying water and just about anything you can think through the window of a tro tro
Listening to roosters crowing daily
An African Proverb that I found in the newpaper recently:
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster then than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.”
First Visit to the Market
Last week I took a day off work to do some much needed shopping that I never get the chance to do. I headed ‘to town’ as locals call it (aka Accra market) with a local friend that I met at church. Thank God, she came with me! I did not realize that there were such HUGE outdoor markets… and we only went to 3 sections of it! We went to the fabric, electrical and food sections. I have not shopped like that since I have been in Ghana. It was actually a blast! I picked up a whole bag of beautiful fabric for around $17. I filled my backpack with vegetables that were also very inexpensive. I also took some of my fabric to a tailor and am having a dress made out of it, costing me around $6.
While I was doing some research at work this week, I read an interesting article about African prints in Ghana. I learned that the original fabric was brought over from the Dutch and that Africans have now made it there own, with all of the elaborate and beautiful prints. At the time in Africa, people wore animal skins instead of cottons. The article also stated that a man’s wealth can be measured by the type and quality of fabrics/prints his wife wears. I thought that was very interesting!
Second Visit to the Market
I headed to the market in town again on Saturday to pick up my dress and buy some African prints. Unfortunately, the tailor did a terrible job on my dress and she glued random hearts on it. Apparently, what people consider fashion here is very different from what we do. Therefore, I am having her fix it, let us cross our fingers that she does a good job, otherwise I was advised by my coworker to make her pay for the material. On a happy note, I am trying out another tailor by my house, hoping she does a good job!
I spent the long weekend (Monday was republican day in Ghana) in a beautiful lodge near Takoradi. I have never been on a vacation, been in the ocean or seen a sand crab for that matter. Upon reaching the beach I was startled by all the holes in the sand and the little critters crawling out of them (sand crabs).
While swimming in the ocean I realized exactly why it is called salt water, because the water is extremely salty, yuck! I spent 2 nights in a charming Eco-hut, which means there is no hot water, an outdoor shower, no electricity (except for at night when they turn on the generator), and no flushing toilet. I ate like a queen, went canoeing with some fellow Canadians and played with some children in a local village. I also went to see the football (soccer) match between Italy and Spain in a local village. This game was shown in what looked like a barn on a 20 something inch tv with 50-75 locals all crowded and yelling in the hot room. It was quite the ‘global experience.’ It was definitely nice to get away from busy Accra to relax and unwind for a weekend. Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the ocean for the first time was amazing. More and more I am realizing how privileged we are as Canadians, but how privileged Ghanaians are with all their beautiful landscapes and simple stress free way of life.