Robocop has your back!

I have been fascinated how Ghanaian women carry babies on their backs and also how they carry heavy objects on their head.
Today while visiting the market, I saw an unbelievably adorable child that wrapped her doll on her back to carry it…but upon closer review, it was not a normal doll..it was Robocop! I wish I had a picture of this girl, but I do have picture of how a mother carries her baby.
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Early in the day, we visited a primary(elementary) school. During a visit with the youngest grade(4-5 yrs), I took the picture below. At first, the students were afraid. Then, one brave soul came up and touched my hand. After seeing that nothing happened to that child, they all wanted to touch me. Awesome kids!
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In the afternoon, I played football(soccer) at the local field. I originally ran with some players from the local team. It turns out Ghana is very hot so running sprints on a soccer field is not ideal. Despite not being a team member, they let me practice with the team and only laughed when I did something really bad. While my appearance may resemble Wayne Rooney, my soccer skills do not:(

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I ended the day with a farewell feast with the host school. I left them a few gifts and they gave some awesome African style dress clothes( you may see on Monday). This time, they demanded that I ate the whole meal with my hands. Thus, I ate fish, Banku, and avacado without the restrictions of silverware:).

Host teacher Alex Dadzie

Host teacher Alex Dadzie

Obrooney or Rooney?

To clarify, the people mainly know that I am not actually Rooney. They are excited to see what they call a “Obrooney”(their term for white man) and that I also look like a famous footballer from a team that is extremely popular(Manchester United is very popular in Ghana because their games are played regularly on TV). It would be like if Berkshire had a visitor that looked like one of your favorite celebrities.

Powers out! As I’m writing this blog, I am not sure when it will see light because there is an insane thunderstorm. The last few days it looked like it would storm, but today it finally pulled through and in a big way. Power is out, as are wifi and water. It is quite scary as I’m now in a new hotel in Sefwi Bekwai writing this with my iPad being the only available light.

Sefwi Bekwai is about a seven hour drive from Accra(if you want to understand how big Africa is, go to google maps and route Sefwi Bekwai to Accra and zoom out of the map to see the whole continent and look at how small it looks despite being such a distance). The drive was a bit frightening, but also an adventure. We encountered grazing sheep blocking the road, two giant trucks flipped on their side from the uneven pavement, and games of chicken with oncoming traffic. The road would be beautifully paved for a long stretch, then it would suddenly change to uneven gravel that reminded me of a pothole-plagued Michigan road.
Finally, we arrived and were greeted by a welcoming party of teachers from Sefwi Bekwai High School. The Ghanaian people, especially teachers, are unbelievably friendly to visitors.

I was a lunch and dinner guest for local families. For lunch, I ate “red-red” which is plantains with beans and a spicy sauce. This may have been the best thing I’ve had so far in Ghana. I’m unsure why plantains are not popular in the US. For dinner, we visited a local college teacher’s house. We had groundnut soup with a rice ball. I also enjoyed this, but not as much as red-red.

Before lunch, our host teacher, Alex( fun fact..his childhood nickname was 7-up…. Another fun fact..nicknames are very common in Ghana)took us to the Ghana Bauxite mine. We viewed an in depth tour of the facilities for which they mine bauxite and aluminum. When wifi improves, I will post pictures that show this amazing process(Mr. Phillips and science teachers will really enjoy this).

While waiting to enter a cocoa farm, Rebecca(my travel partner) and I had an interesting altercation with local children. The children(likely between 5-10 yrs old) were hiding in the bushes watching us. We let them know that they could come out and meet us, but they instead ran away(likely unsure of what to think of the white man). Finally, they came a bit closer and I tried to get them to play stick baseball. They did not catch on so I went to plan B, stick sword fighting. The children really enjoyed this and began trying to ambush me( the video is below). Afterwards, I showed them a video of us playing. They laughed hysterically as watching themselves on my iPad was a riot to them. I can’t help but think that we left a longing impression on these children….I just hope they regard us as nice people…not ninjas:)

The monumental battle

In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to try a staple to the Ghanaian diet, Fufu. Fufu is made by crushing plantains and. In the picture below you can see me helping crush the vegetable. Fufu was very thick, starchy, and filling….and let’s just say it will not become a staple of my diet.

From the many responses…yes, I am enjoying myself, but what I’m gaining from this trip is much deeper than that. I will share with the class upon my return. I hope all is well!
To the classes following from Derby, I am glad to have your support!

Rooney strikes again..

Note if you having troubling viewing videos, use internet explorer instead of Firefox and they should work.

Today, we visited a Ghanaian school. I met a number of teachers and students for which I presented a copy of Mr. Fisher’s 04 Classic, Five Drafts Later. The school was quite different than Berkshire. For one, the students stay in one classroom all day and it was instead the teachers that moved from class to class. Also, the school, while having roofs, was basically outside. You may find the pictures of the computer lab interesting. I spoke to the students and they were extremely respectful…..until their teacher said I was Rooney. They then nearly lost it. Let’s just say I’m getting a workout from shaking so many hands.

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For the afternoon, the Ghanaian parliament(their version of Congress) held a committee meeting with us on education. We discussed laws that they have passed on education in Ghana. You can view the video below to see my memorable introduction. Getting to testify before the Ghanaian government was an experience I will never forget.

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Whad up, Rooney!

If you have not checked out yesterday’s material, I would recommend checking it out and you might have more fun responding to that(I also answer questions).

Today, we went to the market. I was the only white male there and felt like a celebrity. Everyone wanted to shake my hand and loved my name. One group of Ghanaians looked at me and said “Whad up Rooney.” Apparently, they thought I look like footballer Wayne Rooney from Manchester United…pictured below. Oddly enough, I own a Manchester United jersey but did not wear it:(

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I bought a few items at the market that I will show off when I return and also tell you about my terrific bargaining skills.

We also visited Independence Plaza. This is the historical location the president Kwame Nkruham declared Ghana an independent country from England in 1957. It was a big deal because at the time, Ghana was the first country to gain their independence on the African continent. You will also see the home stadium of Ghana’s national football(soccer) team, the Black Stars. They open the World Cup against the United States. Pictures below..

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I also met a new friend from Ghana, Ophelia. She informed me on a number of topics but I will share a couple. One, Ghanaians find it weird that we treat our pets like humans, but also eat hot dogs(many thought hot dogs had dog meat in them). Two, the most popular American stars are Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Celine Dione.
Keep up the good work and make sure you see yesterday’s update. You can reply to either blog. BTW, do I look like Rooney?

Ghanaians dancers > Miley

Scroll down for a quick view of pictures and videos.

Please remember to not use your full name when posting. This is a public forum. Tonight, we are seeing a traditional Ghanaian dance troupe. I am really enjoying it but I will let the videos and pictures tell the story below.

After viewing the first round of posts, I must say I am very pleased with the content so keep up the good work. Aerin and Lexie if the post says pending, you do not need to repost it. Also, AJ, please put more content in your post. Marvin, I did not hear from you so I hope your next post is very informative:). Questions….

Many students: Do you miss us?
Answer: Of course, but my experience in Ghana will only make this and future classes experiences even better. As well as a teacher, it is just as important that I am a lifelong learner.

Kylie: When a professional crier dies is their coffin a tear drop? My colleagues and I laughed quite a bit at this. They do not know of specific example, but it is certainly possible.

Here are some sample coffins…feel free to google “Ghana Coffins” for more.

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Jane: Do Ghanaians like their funerals or wish for American funerals? Ghanaians love their style of funerals. Let me clarify that they do not party if a child dies unexpected and tragically, but only if the person is old and lived a valuable life. They enjoy these funerals so much that some will spend nearly all their money on funeral dress and donation to the family. The closest thing in America would be a wedding. It may seem odd to us that a funeral is a celebration, but do you think Ghanaians find it odd that we have celebrities that spend millions on weddings only to get divorced three months later?

RO: What dances do they do at funerals? Funny story, the dance troupe seen in pictures and videos below perform at funerals. I would give an explanation but a picture is worth a thousand words…a video, maybe more.

Samantha and others: How is the food and have you tried anything new? The food has been pretty good, but different. For example, I had some good spaghetti today…but it was served for breakfast. I have enjoyed the Ghanaian dishes(fried plantain, peanut soup) more than the American dishes(French fries). One of the group favorites was Tilapia. The picture below shows that in Ghana, they do not bother removing skins, bones, or well…anything.

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Videos

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Pictures

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3/17/14

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Quick update…Ghanaian TV is very interesting. I found that they have CNN, but this morning it had turned into a different channel. A workout channel complete with the Insanity workout so I figured when in Rome..and proceeded to do the workout in my hotel room.

I just learned some very interesting information on Ghanaian funerals. As we learned before, funerals are huge social events to celebrate the person’s life. They often last four days where the first day is mourning followed by days of dancing, singing, and partying. Well…there’s more…. Bodies are often left in the Morgue for nine months while they plan the funeral(it takes time to plan such a huge event:). Also, some families hire “professional criers.” These people, as you might guess, are hired to cry at funerals so that the person appears more valued to the funeral visitors. They also have personalized coffins. For example, a shoemaker’s coffin is a giant shoe ,a fishermen’s is a giant fish, and a teacher a giant pencil. Leave this as my living will…..I want a Ghanaian funeral. What do you think, should a funeral be a celebration of one’s life or an event of mourning?

Be sure to see yesterday’s post!

3/16/14

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I have arrived in Accra! Thus far, we have left the airport and went to the mall to exchange money. Ghana’s currency, Cedis, is 2.5x the U.S. Dollar. Thus, I turned 400 dollars into 1000 Cedis. I suddenly feel wealthy.
I recommend to anyone that when they fly, talk to a stranger next to you. In my past two flights,I met a man that was featured on CNN for creating a video game system for disabled veterans and a woman that worked for John Dingell, the longest serving Congressmen in the history of the United States(he is the man I am pictured with in the photo by the book shelf). On today’s flight, I met a man from Liberia more fascinating than the two above. He told me that he was returning from visiting his sister in Minnesota(go ahead and map Minnesota to Liberia). Two days before he left, his boss called him and told him that if he made the trip he would be fired from his job. Since the trip was already booked and couldn’t be refunded, he went ahead and went on the trip and was fired for it. However when in Minnesota, he had an Aneurism. The doctors at University of Minnesota were able to save him with emergency surgery. He said he would have certainly died from the Aneurism had he stayed in Liberia. Thus, he lost his job by taking the trip to visit his sister, but saved his life! What are your feelings on this story?
Tomorrow’s update will have more pictures and Ghana specific things. I can tell you that the hotel room is fairly normal besides you cannot flush toilet paper and instead you place it in a mini garbage can next to the potty :(. Also, wifi is difficult but I will do what is necessary to keep this blog flowing with wonderful material. Please tell your C3 teachers to include my blog in plans this week. Hope all is well and you are showing Mrs. Durham that you are Berkshire’s best!