Friendly Ghana

Ghana volunteer’s journal – “A question of scruples”

Ghana Volunteering Journal of Taylor Swanson (of Canada)

A question of scruples

Hi everyone!

It has been awhile because everytime I come here John follows me and invites himself to read my e-mails and read everything I write…

People here are very friendly but at the same time they are also very intrusive- from John reading my e-mails to him pressuring me to buy an African shirt (the material from his friend, the sewing by his friend) – but of course, since everyone knows what is best for me, the accountant is now debating the quality of the fabric with him…In a country that is completely foreign I NEED guidance, but the fact that everyone is guiding me in a different direction is a little disconcerting – at the least, someone is being casually dishonest, at the worst, someone is unscrupulously lying… Having the best case scenario be that dishonest people are intruding on my life is not a comfortable position to be in…I feel like people are trying to manipulate me–everyone has an ulterior motive-yesterday John and Kabaaka started asking me if I could arrange a flight for them to Canada, if I could sign off on their Visas, If I could find them a place to stay in Canada, if I could find them work in Canada, if I could help them get Canadian Citizenship, If I could find them a wife…

That’s right folks, apparently I am some kind of Canadian pimp that can pass off my female friends to anyone I want… They gave me their contact info with instructions to distribute it to all my female friends… so if anyone is looking for a Ghanaian husband I can hook you up.

Last night there was a massive rain storm-it was so loud that it seemed like I was trying to sleep between the tracks at a very busy train station-I was awake between 3 and 5-not fun.

More Taylor Swanson Ghana volunteering diaries.

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.