Tuesday June 26, 2018
Hello from Anloga, Ghana! After making their way around the globe, all 32 of our students have arrived safely. Students were met at the airport by GLA Staff, stopped at the Accra Mall for lunch, and then traveled the 3 hours back to Home Base by bus or van. After taking some time to settle in at the Pin Drop Hotel (Home Base), students got to know each other by playing games. After dinner the students have gotten to know each other and several of the staff who will be with us this summer, and then are heading to bed for much needed rest!
The GLA staff team here in Anloga has been working hard preparing for the students’ arrival by doing site visits, planning activities, and sampling the Ghanaian food. We are all very excited to have the students here with us now. Tomorrow, we will have an Orientation after breakfast that will include an introduction to Ghanaian culture, safety and security protocols, and highlights of our service learning activities. After our orientation, we will be participating in a language lesson on Ewe, the local dialect spoken in this region of Ghana, and a drum and dance session.
Future blog posts will be authored by our student leaders and will include pictures from our busy days as well so be sure to check back often for updates on all the amazing adventures we are having together in Ghana!!
Wednesday June 27, 2018
Fie from Ghana!
Since you probably weren’t in the Ewe language class, fie means good evening. Today was the first full day here at our new home for the next three weeks, and it was a busy day for staying on-site for the day. We also took a brief walk to the beach that’s not far. Everyone made it through their jetlag and got to breakfast before starting our safety and health review. We discussed cultural norms, and then we had our first actual glimpse into Ghanaian culture. We were split up into our three mentor groups and were sent our separate ways (still within home base) for a plethora of activities. One group started off with a mentor activity, which included a Model UN style debate, while the second group was at an Ewe language class, and the third group was partying during their drum and dance lesson.
Some of us have more rhythm than others, but we all had a pretty good time. Way to start off the program out of our comfort zones. Because we’re lucky enough to be living in a local community, after our cultural activities, the courtyard of our homebase was full of local children ready to play with us and our cameras. While some played an intense game of Frisbee, others were doing piggy-back races and practicing handshakes. After a hearty meal of couscous, stew, and pineapple, we were given our Ghanaian names by Grandma, who is 8 centuries old, so she knows everything. After a long day of learning and playing, lights out at 9:30 isn’t going to be a problem. We will try to post regularly!
Until next time,
Akuga (Jessie) and Korkuvi (Maxton)
Thursday June 28, 2018
Hey to all of our friends and family!
Today, June 28, was our second full day in Ghana! To begin our day, we had an early start at 7am. We had a wonderful breakfast, and following breakfast, the student leaders of the day went over the schedule, with quote of the day being “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen” spoken by John F. Kennedy and a word of the day which was ”change” in the local language Ewe. We proceeded to our community service sites. While split up into our mentor groups, each of the three groups went to three separate schools, where we learned to make bricks and observe classrooms. Although we did not teach today, it was really interesting to observe how schools in Ghana function. The kids were all very excited and gracious to have our company and we felt the same about them, as the Ghanaians have been so welcoming to our group.
After 4 hours of hard work at the schools, we returned to home base to meet up for an amazing lunch. This lunch was very special as we were privileged to eat with members of the community that we will be spending more time with tomorrow. It was very fun and nice to eat some of the traditional food! Shortly after lunch we split into two groups and ventured out into the beautiful local markets. Half of us went to the Anloga market and half went to the Keta market. There we selected different fabrics that were unique to the Ghanaian culture to be taken to a seamstress to be turned into different types of clothing like skirts and headbands. We concluded our day with a delicious dinner and lesson planning for our first official day of teaching tomorrow. We can’t wait to wake up bright and early and start working in the community!
Thanks for reading!
Shriya, Avery, and Abby 🙂
Sunday July 1, 2018
Today we traveled to Ho after breakfast. the drive was about two hours. Once we arrived we got snacks for our hike tomorrow at a local grocery store. After everyone ate lunch at out hotel, we split into two groups to go batiking,which is basically dying fabric with wax, and making your own print.
We also had an opportunity to buy some jewelry and other things from the places we were batiking. Tonight we had a salsa lesson from some of the mentors and everyone danced. So far we’ve had a great time at Ho and are so excited to go to the monkey sanctuary and waterfall tomorrow!
Monday July 2, 2018
Today was a great day for us here at GLA! We started our morning off with a little bit of a sad good-bye as we said goodbye to some of our fellow GLA peers/friends. Then, we hopped on the bus to go visit the monkey sanctuary. This was very very cool, we got to feed the monkeys bananas right from our hands. At first, we were all afraid of the monkeys, but after just a few minutes we warmed up to them. A few monkeys even went on people’s heads and shoulders. Everywhere we looked there were so many monkeys reaching out for some bananas. What a great start to our day!
Following, we went to a local waterfall which was absolutely magnificent. In order to get to the waterfall, we hiked for about 45 minutes up a scenic trial. After our long and strenuous hike, we all got to take a dip into the magical water. It was so refreshing after our hike. We took great pictures that we know will last a lifetime. AFter a quick dip into the water, we hiked back another 45 minutes. Towards the end of the hike, we visited a crafts market that sold amazing things like: bracelets, paintings, sculptures, clothes, and so much more! After everyone bought a couple souvenirs, we headed back to Ho where we’ll spend our final night. Weather cooperated, and we had a blast!!
–Carmen and Jenna
Tuesday July 3, 2018
Today we woke up at Ho for our last morning in the city. We had the opportunity to try Kente weaving with some local experts to assist us. They explained the historical background of the culture and how they personally became involved. Each student was able to try their hand at weaving a piece of cloth. They were paired with one of the experts who showed them how to personalize the colors used in their weave. The people we were working with helped us out and finished the pieces off while we looked through the souvenirs: ties, jackets, coin purses, etc. After returning to home base in Anloga, we did some group activities to bring us together and get back into the routine. Also, we had a fun birthday celebration with Sara! Off to bed now!
Wednesday July 4, 2018
Happy Fourth of July! Today was another exciting and eventful day, the first full day back in Anloga after the weekend away in Ho. Starting the day off, students broke into mentor groups for morning service at their local school. It was nice to get back into the routine and to see the children again after being away. We worked hard making bricks and teaching in the classroom with our partners. After finishing the morning service, we came back to home base and were greeted with a yummy traditional feast, although some students opted for coco pops (chocolate cereal). After lunch, we were split into two groups for the afternoon’s festivities. Group A was off to the historic Keta Slave Fort, and group B headed to another GLA home base to learn about creating sustainable toilets and to relax by the Lagoon.
Being in group A, we enjoyed the tour of Keta Slave Fort, and learned about the traumatizing conditions of slaves in Ghana. We learned about the reasons behind European export in West Africa. It was cool to gain a new perspective on Ghana’s past, and appreciate the beauty of the historical architecture. We took some time to take in the experience by stopping at a nice waterfront resort for a refreshing drink. We played some games with our mentors and then had a group discussion about what we learned. After leaving the stunning resort, we arrived back at Home base for dinner.
Our fellow students in group B expressed their love for the Meet Me There activity at the other GLA base and they really, really enjoyed swimming in the Lagoon. We wrapped up the day with a series of fun activities which helped us get closer as a team.
By Manu, Charlotte and McKenna
Thursday July 5, 2018
Today was an eventful day in Ghana. We kicked it off with an early breakfast outdoors, followed by our usual service work: brickmaking and teaching. Every group hit a record number of bricks made, which was exciting news for everyone! After service, a seamstress came to home base and delivered the custom clothing we had ordered along with other hand-sewn bags, headbands, and shirts etc. We then split into our 3 mentor groups to do different cultural activities.
The first group visited a local island and explored the remote fishing community which inhabits it. There we met a priest who can see into the future, and heals those who are physically, or mentally weak. He also helps you spiritually if you are struggling. We were immediately surrounded by children and some of them even stayed with us the whole 3 and half hours and fell asleep in our arms. The second group visited Fathers House, an organization which rescues child slaves and homeless boys, it was founded in 2007 and currently houses 20-30 boys aged 1-20.
We played soccer, drew in the sand, and simply enjoyed every moment we got to experience there. The last group got to cook red red, a traditional Ghanaian dish consisting of a tomato and bean base. To end the day, a couple GLA alumni, Henry and Jessie, joined us for dinner and presented the stories of their past experiences. This was their third time back in Ghana and they explained how they fell in love with the culture, people, and food. All of us could begin to relate to. We also spent some time going around explaining our favorite/memorable moments and it was truly eye opening that we are already halfway through the program. It was inspirational. Today was a day to remember!
-by Sophia, Sarah, Lucas
Friday July 6, 2018
Today began as usual with each mentor group going to their schools for service. Although we were expecting rain, the clouds cleared and allowed for a full day of brick making and teaching. The service was broken up by spending time with the students during recess and learning their traditional games. After one of the best meals so far, including home style potatoes, chicken, and pineapple, we were given some time to digest. For some students, this meant going to the beach, for others taking a nap or hanging out at home base. Later in the day, we all regrouped to visit students our own age at the local high school.
This offered a brand new experience of forming friendships with high school students in the community in a more casual and natural environment. Following a few ice breakers, we got to know each other better by doing an exercise which revealed the similarities between teens around the world. As we got more comfortable with each other, a spontaneous dance party broke out and showcased the variety of dances we all know from our various countries. It was interesting to see how dance and song crossed international borders and was used as a bridge between the two cultures. This was a high point for many of the GLA students on the trip because it provided us with authentic friendships that we can maintain through social media or other means.
We arrived back at home base for a delicious dinner that re-energized us for the thought provoking activity that followed. Each group was given instructions to adhere by the customs of their culture, which directly contradicted and clashed with the derived culture of the other group. This led to a discussion regarding student’s own cultures, stereotypes, and how to avoid them in the future. After a long day, students are journaling and preparing for sleep before another exciting and packed day in Ghana! A special hello to the entire Fales, Tilson, and Wigder families, we love you and miss you!
Saturday July 7, 2018
Today was an exciting day! We got to have a late wakeup. Due to no school on Saturdays, today was a day designated to make bricks. All the groups made the most amount of bricks yet on this amazing trip, at a total of 314 bricks. Today was full of sweat, hard work and determination. After a hard earned lunch, we were split into 2 groups for our afternoon activity. While some engaged in an educational, meaningful tour of the Keta Slave Fort, others had a relaxing dip in the lagoon at Meet Me There. Later that night, we got to hear two local guest speakers. Half the group learned about the history on Ghana, while the others learned about the Fathers House and child slavery. Now ending the night on an inspirational note, it is off to bed. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!!!
Sunday July 8, 2018
We started our day with a great breakfast and many students attended an optional service at the Global Evangelical Church nearby. We were immediately welcomed into the church and introduced to the entire congregation. The service was full of singing, dancing, and a lot of fun to start off our day! After church we came home for a fantastic treat of spaghetti for lunch. We then split into two groups to learn traditional Ghanaian dance, how to balance objects on our heads, and how to carry babies on our backs like the locals. After participating in these wonderful activities we headed back to see our friends at Anlo Senior High School.
At the high school we played an intense game of soccer, danced, played basketball, ate some ice cream, then said goodbye to our newfound friends. Then we came back for a wonderful dinner before switching groups to hear the speakers from last night. One group learned all about Fathers House and the child slavery issues in Ghana, while the other group learned cultural insight about Ghana from a local chief of the Ewe tribe. Overall it was a jam packed, exciting day!
-Sydney, Abby, and Layren
Monday July 9, 2018
Hello, today was another exciting day in Anloga! We started bright and early with breakfast and were off to our schools at 8:00 to start our brick making for the day. We switched mentors for the day and were able to use the techniques from the other groups to improve our own group efficiency. We taught today as usual and then returned to home base for another delicious lunch. We separated back into our respective service groups to do some cultural activities.
One group stayed at home base for a cooking lesson and appointments with local hairstylists. The other group visited a fishing island and learned about traditionalists and the last group went to Father’s House, an organization that focuses on rescuing boys from child slavery on Lake Volta. We came back together at home base for chow circle and dinner, followed by a well-deserved and much appreciated movie night. Everyone migrated to their bedrooms early to get some needed shut-eye for another big day tomorrow.
-By Manu, Jessie and Andrea
Tuesday July 10, 2018
Today has been an exciting and educational day in Ghana! Mentor groups headed out to service after breakfast for a productive day of brick making and teaching in their schools. Each group worked their hardest and came back to home base ready for lunch and then some free time. Students made friendship bracelets, went to the beach, or did some laundry. Following that, one of our very own mentors, Fafa, taught us about the organization she co-founded and what they are doing to rescue young girls from child slavery. Everyone then drove to meet with two local chiefs who told us about their lives, what it means to be a chief, and answered questions that students had. After dinner back at home base, students listened to Dodzi, one of the local staff, as he described the education system in Ghana and his own experiences with it. All students are currently going to bed tired but ready for the next day!
Wednesday July 11, 2018
Greetings from Anloga!
Our 21 days are starting to come to a close, meaning that our time in the classrooms and with each other is also coming to an end. We split into our mentor groups in the morning again, heading straight to our schools to continue our brick making, which is slowly becoming a contest of which mentor group can build the most bricks. We then went to our classes and taught our lessons, with some people’s classes being more rowdy than others. After the seamstresses visited again and we did some shopping, we split back up into our mentor groups to go to either an island tour, Father’s House International, or to stay at home base for a cooking lesson, hairdresser visit and wifi. After we were all reunited after dinner, we started our reflections on our experience so far. With our goodbye letters to our friends being started, everything is getting all sappy and sentimental. Only a few more blogs left!
Thursday July 12, 2018
Today was a very special day here in Anloga. One of our students, Jessie, turned 18 today. We had a great breakfast and today was our last full day of teaching. We all worked very hard with our kids and we are very sad to have to leave in a couple days. After service we had a lunch and went on a river tour!! We had a long scenic boat ride for about a half hour and it was lovely. We got to see a ton of beautiful sights. We arrived to a remote island where the ocean meets the river and we spent a couple hours there. Some kids swam while others drank sodas and just sat in the sun or played volleyball. The island was beautiful. The palm trees were painted beautiful colors. The sand was filled with tiny conch shells. Everyone had a blast. We are all starting to realize that we are leaving soon and everyone is soaking in every moment of this trip. After we got back to home base we had dinner and started planning for our talent show. Jessie soon after had a big surprise and had buckets of water dumped on her for her birthday. Which is a Ghanaian tradition. We had cake and ice cream to celebrate. Today was an overall lovely day. Cant wait to see what tomorrow brings!!
-Sophia, Talia & Lucas
Saturday July 14, 2018
Today was a great day! It was filled with our last time brick making and seeing our favorite kids! In addition, we visited all of our friends schools and we were all able to see what one another has been experiencing! After our dinner, we made our way to the beach for a nice bonfire. We all had a great time and went back to home base for the talent show! Many great acts performed and we were all able to have a great laugh. The program is coming to an end, no one wants to leave, the bonds that everyone has created its something that we never expected happening at the beginning. The group that all the students have made its incredible, we are all very happy that everyone got along nicely.
-by Miguel, Bella & Ashley
Greetings from Ghana!
Today was our last full day here in the extremely beautiful Anloga, Ghana. We have all made memories here that we will never forget, as we have become one big family that calls Ghana our home. We started our day with our last breakfast which was followed by us breaking into our mentor groups for our final discussion. We reflected and wrote letters to future GLA students on our journey and gave them advice. This was followed by a whole group activity regarding culture shock and reverse culture shock, which many of us may experience when we head back home. After, we had lunch and had time to pack. Later, we had a local performance group teach us the local dances and music styles.
The performances were amazing and everyone was on their feet dancing away. Followed by this was our banquet where we all dressed up in our finest Ghanaian clothing for a lovely last meal. We were then each given a handmade traditional scarf with our names embroidered on them as a final gift from our stay in Ghana. Next, we watched a slideshow that consisted of photos and videos of our time here. It made us all tear up watching the unbelievable memories we made here. This will be a trip we will never forget. Finally, we had some free time to say our last goodbyes to our new extended family that we made here in Ghana before we all head home tomorrow. GLA has definitely changed our lives for the better! It made us grow as individuals and develop valuable skills that we will use throughout our lives. Words cannot explain how much this trip meant to us, and we all wish this could last forever. We end our final blog by saying until next time!
Sara M, Shriya M, and Jenna S.