Ghana volunteer’s journal – “How to live in Ghana”

How to live in Ghana

By Christopher Prater (USA)

First rule: don’t ever, for even a moment, think you’ll be fine without sunscreen. Because, let’s face it, you will be burned. Sometimes I just accept this.

Second rule: Never assume things will go as planned. I had a trip to Cape Coast cancelled ten minutes before departure. Last weekend I finally made it there, and the hotel we booked gave someone else our room.

Third rule: understand that the word time does not exist, nor has it ever, nor will it ever. Breakfast “time” can mean 6:20 but it can also mean 10:45, depending on the day and what your teaching schedule is. Lunch “time” exists in a window of 12:00 – 1:30, in a school that has only a 30 minute time slot for lunch, 12:30 – 1:00. Dinner “time” is always sooner than you want it. And finally, when someone says 10 minutes, they mean next year, or perhaps never while you’re alive.

Fourth rule: realize cultural differences. People are friendly here. Very friendly. Too friendly. They will show you their house before you know their name. They will want to call you before you have even blinked. And they will make a special 3 hour round trip to the beach to check out the night life possibilities for an upcoming weekend trip. Wow. But they also will impose, impose, impose, thinking they know every minute detail about you, every inner thought, every implicit motive, when in fact they do not. So of course, with the best intentions, they will frustrate you with their magnanimity.

Fifth rule: Organization has no place here…or at least at the school. Headmasters show up once a day, rules are ignored, teachers are late. If they weren’t so cool, I’d have to say something…

Sixth rule: Bring a friend or make friends fast.

Seventh rule: Never ever come to Ghana if you can’t stand religion, feel pressured by religious people, or get easily uncomfortable around anything to do with religion. “Are you a Christian?” has been the most popular question I’ve received, easily beating the pre-trip favor of “What is your name?” taken straight out of the Nepal trip. Prayer services are held daily and can be heard from any point in the country. Sundays don’t exist outside of Church. And students will drop their things to form a group prayer party in the middle of a study session at 8:00 pm (yeah, sometimes they are still at school).

Follow these rules and you’ll have a great time.

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