News from Ghana: Arrival from Abroad and Orientation

Note: Delay in posts due to no access to Wi-Fi at night and at the University getting the program off the ground for orientation was full of logistics, so no time to post.

(Photos to be posted later)

Monday July 29: Had a busy day yesterday at the airport with the group arriving from both JFK and Amsterdam at different times. The JFK flight was two hours late, so we arrived at the hostel about 4:00pm. All were glad to be on the ground after their transatlantic flight. Nice that it was direct with just over 10 hours of flying time. From the airport, we piled into three taxis and traveled the short distance to the hostel where we settled into our rooms and ate dinner at 6:00. The JFK group was sleeping soundly by the time the Amsterdam group got to the hostel.

Tuesday July 30: 7:00 am breakfast (this will be the routine) – off in taxi’s to the University of Ghana Campus on the Aburi road – a 20 minute ride made so mostly because of the traffic, not the distance. Said to be walkable in 20 minutes, but from the view of things today, the walk is uphill, and while it might be a 20 minute walk, looks like you’d need to turn around to take a shower and start the day all over again. Walking home after class may be a better option. The University is the oldest in the country and our classroom is directly to the left of the main entrance in the Institute of African Studies building. There was no time to explore the campus today, but no doubt this is on the list, at least for this contributor. The botanical garden, library and the Museum of Archeology are three destinations recommended on campus. Ghanaian students are now on summer holidays, so while there are people/students roaming around, it is clear that the place is built for thousands. Cultural orientation including customs and norms is but one of the topics discussed. Tomorrow we are in for dancing and drumming performers from the School of Performing Arts, which is just across the way from our classroom building. We could hear great sounds wafting from that direction this afternoon, so our sense of rhythm is ready. As Yemi, our cultural informant said, “dancing is a social requirement here”. We left campus around 3:00 and headed to the tro-tro (public mini-bus transport) stop to take the short ride farther out the Aburi Road to the large open-air Medina market. Once we’ve wriggled our way out of the tro-tro, we regroup and head off in three directions with local program staff guiding us through the narrow alleyways. We also exchanged money at the foreign exchange and used the ATM machines for cash. You name it, it’s here. Humanity, young and old, sights, smells, and products are abundant beyond belief. I’ll let the photo’s tell the story here, except you’ll have to fill in for the smells. Taking photos of people can be tricky and they are not always receptive to having their spirit captured in a photograph and taken home by a stranger. They wonder why you would have the right to have that photo capturing their spirit. Around 4:30 we came together again and made our way back to the tro-tro stop and boarded one which took us directly back to the hostel. Much appreciated by all who had used up their reserve energy walking around the market and were running on empty. After some down time, we met up for a group meal in the hostel cafeteria with all the program staff, before turning in for the night. 6:30 will come early tomorrow. Reporting live from Accra, Ghana – West Africa, Debbie Hayward, Program Director, Study Abroad Ghana
Next post will include our rough agenda of activities and whereabouts as well as some context for the country of Ghana. Students will also be contributing to the blog, so stay tuned.


Awaiting Arrival of Group

Now we are headed to the week’s countdown before I will be heading to the airport here in Accra, Ghana to meet the group coming from JFK. They are due to land around 1:30 pm Ghana time on Monday, July 29th. Its an 11 hour non-stop flight from JFK and just a four hour time difference from EST in the States. I’m typing this at 7:30am and its 3:30am in Putney, Vermont. I will also go back to the airport to meet the group of students coming from the Netherlands. They will be traveling Amsterdam to London, then Accra. I have found many historical connections between the Netherlands and Ghana, as the Dutch were here as traders for well over 200 years. More on this in a later post.

The weather here has been very pleasant, with a gentle breeze blowing and just enough overcast sky to keep the scorching sun at bay. It is technically the rainy season however I think its raining in the Atlantic and not reaching land.