Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for..........

G is for..........Ghana.

G is also for Guest. My wife had a unique experience that I thought would be interesting reading for A-Z. So without further ado, here's the better half.

I recently spent two weeks in Accra, Ghana, as part of the U.S. State Department’s Teachers for Global Classrooms program.  The program is designed to help teachers build a globally focused curricula and develop their students’ global competencies.  I had an incredible experience visiting schools and learning about the education and culture of Ghana. While two weeks in a country does not make me an expert by any means, I had some insights and experiences I thought I would organize by Gs.

Greetings:  A common greeting in Ghana is “akwaaba” which means welcome.  Many meetings with Ghanaians began with “You are welcome” to which I would reply “thank you.”  This flip of the order of these expressions at first gave me pause and then a new appreciation and understanding of words I take for granted.

Government: Ghana gained independence in 1963 from Great Britain and was the first African colony to do so. On March 6, 2012, the 55th anniversary of that bloodless revolution was celebrated across the country. The president, John Atta Mills spoke to thousands of Ghanaians in the capital.


The celebration also featured the branches of the military.  Throughout my stay in Ghana, I thought about how the military was featured as I was repeatedly told by taxi drivers, teachers, salesmen in markets that Ghana was the most peaceful country.  It was such a consistent message seemingly borne from horrific neighboring conflicts in Togo, Cote d’ Ivore, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Goats:  I saw a lot of goats in Ghana.  They were quite ever present in the city and in the country.  They would wander all over town, but I was told they would find their way home every day.  They were smallish goats, used for meat but not able to produce much milk.  On my last day in Ghana I saw goats eating grass and plants in the middle of a traffic wedge.  I don’t know if the photo does it justice.


Right after I took this photo I saw a hatchback taxi carrying two men in Muslim attire in the back seat.  Behind them in the storage space were two goats.  They were looking out the back window like they belonged there.   

Globalization:  I was very interested to see how Ghana fits into the increasingly interconnected global economy.  The school where I spent most of my time was in the port city of Tema, 16 miles from Accra.  Tema is the largest port in the country.  I was thrilled to get close to the actual port and blown away by the shipping containers, such a tangible sign of development and our globalized economy.


Additionally, the containers served as stores for countless shopkeepers throughout Accra, Cape Coast, and Tema.


Garbage:  Another sign of progress(?) and an increasingly globalized economy today has to be the increase in garbage.  As with many developing countries, there is an incredible garbage presence that closes in on living quarters and natural resources.


In Ghana, drinking water is packaged and sold in plastic pouches and sold all over.  One school I visited had started a recycling initiative with these pouches.


Grace & Gratitude:  My trip to Ghana left me with impressions of incredible beauty, resilience, and complexity.  I feel like this photo captures these impressions better than any words could.


15 comments:

  1. Great post! Though I'm still a bit bummed about that World Cup game...

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    1. Thanks Hektor! I hear you on the World Cup.

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  2. Wonderful post. What an amazing experience to visit Ghana.

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    1. Thank you Carrie. I feel so fortunate to have spent time in such an amazing place.

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  3. What a thought provoking and interesting "G" post. I LOVE it! Thanks for sharing all of this information with us. It's interesting that goats were around everywhere.

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    1. Thanks Marquita! The goats were really something. I didn't make it to any of the animal preserves in the North but it was interesting to see "common" animals in a different way.

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  4. A fabulous post, incredibly thought provoking. Such a fantastic opportunity.

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    1. Thanks Laurita. it was a real gift to have time to learn from Ghana and the Ghanaians I met.

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  5. What an experience. Very enlightening for me too.

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  6. Glad you got to visit (I need to look into this program for myself). Everyone I have met from or who has visited Ghana has fab things to say about it. As a Nigerian-American, I find it interesting that people are so shocked at the "you are welcome" coming first. I love it and greet all the Nigerians I know in this manner. Perhaps, I will start doing it with all people since I want to start treating people more like gold and let them know that they are welcome around me.

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  7. That last photo is so beautiful. I really enjoyed this post, thanks.

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  8. Sounds like a great experience and a great initiative. It seems the Ghanaians are very proud to be peaceful and avoiding the conflict that has ravaged their neighbours. The "you're welcome" thing is interesting too.

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  9. What wonderful, thought provoking pictures. Thank you for sharing them.

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  10. What an amazing country. Thanks for a glimpse.

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  11. What an incredible experience. The photos are so descriptive. Love the message in the final one.

    Play off the Page

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