The worldwide Augustana College experience

Ago! Hello from West Africa!

So we made it safe!  My first international flight has been a success.  Unfortunately I only slept for about an hour on the entire 11 hour flight, but I survived!  From the moment we stepped off the plane the experience has been fantastic!  I immediately felt a wave of heat and sun, and we headed into customs where we stood in line in the wonderful heat for approximately an hour before getting through.  Luckily, no one got held up, though, and we were able to take our first steps out of the airport and into Accra, Ghana!

One of the first areas of “culture shock” we were able to experience was our trip to the market.  We have been to two different markets already, and they were both quite an experience (though one more intense than the other).  As soon as you step foot near the market, people are right next to you, talking to you, hugging you, grabbing your hand and leading you to their shops; it is an extremely friendly place, but people are much more comfortable being very close to one another when they are having a conversation.  Different, but something I am starting to get used to!  

I have already met some wonderful people here while walking through the streets and the markets.  I have found out very quickly that when you meet someone new, they legitimately want to learn as much about you as they can just as much as we want to learn about them.  A few of us had about a 20 minute conversation with a nice man named John who was selling some of his artwork and wood carvings in the market.  He was absolutely hilarious, and after allowing us to take a picture with him, he looked at it and said, “Oh my gosh… I’m black!” and proceeded to laugh hysterically, along with us, at the joke he had just made.  I attached the picture so you can see our lovely friend!  Even though we didn’t buy much from him, he made us promise that we would come back and visit him sometime in the three weeks that we are here, which we will be sure to do! 

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to do a bus tour of the city, see the National Museum, visit the Kwame Nkruma Memorial, and the Art Museum.  The National Museum was very small in comparison to what we have in the U.S., however there were many extremely interesting things there!  We learned about the history of some of their traditional dances, and saw many of the artifacts and artwork that the people of Ghana used to make, and many of them still make today.  One of the artifacts I found most interesting was a type of stool the Ghanaians use.  Each one is hand carved with elaborate designs that symbolize things such as power, religion, or different families.  (picture attached).  We also learned that some stools are made smaller with long “backs” that are made to be used as weapons if necessary. 

So far, my favorite experience has been the salsa dancing night we had last night!  Every Wednesday night at the hotel we are staying at, a local radio station hosts a night of Salsa lessons, music, and unbelievable dancing that goes on for about four hours.  I, unfortunately missed the lessons, but I decided to go anyway and at least watch (secretly I was hoping to get in on the dancing).  There were hundreds of people here, and all of them were AMAZING salsa dancers!  I got asked to dance buy a nice guy named Rowland, and though I have absolutely NO CLUE how to salsa, he taught me, and after three hours of straight dancing… outside under the moon in the wonderful Ghanaian heat… I can now say that I am basically a pro!  By this I mean I can do the steps, and throw in many spins and awesome moves as long as the guy knows what he is doing!  

Can’t wait to see what else is in store for us as we continue on this amazing journey.  Hope everyone is enjoying the snow!  Today it is 94 degrees and feels like 104 with humidity… Love it!

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