Title: Arrival Day!
Greetings from Anloga, Ghana! After making their way around the world, through airports, layovers, and many long flights, all 33 of our students for Session 2 at Anloga Home Base (July 18-August 7) have arrived safely! It has been a long day of traveling, but everyone is now taking some time to settle in to the Pin Drop Hotel for our earlier arrivals (our GLA Home Base and our home away from home for the next three weeks) or the Osda Guest House in Accra, where our later evening arrivals will stay for one night before joining the rest of the group at our Home Base tomorrow morning. Some students had an opportunity to meet and play a few games with some of the kids that live around our neighborhood, while others are resting up in preparation for a busy first full day.
The GLA staff team here in Anloga has been working hard preparing for the students’ arrival and trying to fine tune our schedule for the next few weeks, and we are all very excited to have everyone here with us now. We will be going through an Orientation tomorrow morning after breakfast that will include an introduction to Ghanaian culture, safety and security protocols, highlights of our service learning activities and adventure excursions, and a few other minor details (like staying hydrated in sunny Ghana!). After our orientation, we will be diving into an initial language lesson on Ewe, the local dialect spoken in this region of Ghana, and a drum and dance session to begin to get a sense of the rhythm and music that is such a profound component of the local culture.
We’ll be getting an early start tomorrow morning so we’ll wrap up this first blog post here. 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!!!
Author: Keith Wingeard (International Director)
Date Written: July 18, 2017
Title: First Day Festivities
Early this morning, the rest of the group that had stayed a night in Accra safely arrived to the home base at Pin Drop Hotel. After arriving, we ate our first breakfast together and began the long orientation that ended around noon. For lunch, we met with our host families, who are all members of the local community and shared a little about their backgrounds and daily lives. Following lunch, we were separated into our mentor groups where the real fun began. After setting our goals for the next three weeks, we attended a class on the basics of the local language “Ewe,” which was extremely difficult but we made some progress.
Many of us felt that the highlight of the day was dancing, singing, and playing instruments with the locals who gave us a glimpse of their vibrant Ghanaian culture. While the majority of us could not keep up with the rhythm and dance moves of the locals, we bonded with each other and shared lots of laughs. We then enjoyed free time playing soccer and hand games with the neighborhood kids who greeted us with big smiles and hugs.
Following dinner, we celebrated Madisyn’s birthday (one of the writers of tonight’s blog) Ghana style (aka with a huge bucket of water and powder being poured on her from a balcony). The last big event of the night was the funny naming ceremony where we all received our Ghanaian names that are based on the day of the week that we were born on. We were fighting to stay awake towards the end of the ceremony which also brings this blog to a close. We are excited to finally get some sleep and start a new adventure tomorrow!
Sending lots of love,
Your GLA kids
Authors: Madisyn Morse & Maya Mutalik
Written: July 19, 2017
Title: Teamwork Thursday
Good morrow cousin, is the trip so young? It hath been but a mere four rotations of a clock, and yet it feels as if our arrival occurred this sunrise.
And now back to normal blogpost language: After breakfast this morning we traveled with our three groups to our respective schools where we observed classes to plan for our first day of teaching the next day. We then had a break to play duck duck goose, futbal, or just hang out and meet the children. We then learned the tricks of the trade of brickmaking. After one short lesson, everyone quickly got the hang of it.
After a hearty lunch to regain our energy, the three groups split once again. One group stayed at our hotel to have a cooking lesson and get cornrows before traveling to belly flop into the amazing ocean and beach. One group took a canoe trip to the island to learn basket weaving and visit a shrine. The last group visited Father’s House, an orphanage for former child slaves.
Eventually we gathered back at the hotel for a small block of time to play with the children and then had dinner. We ate chicken with french fries made from coconut oil and a side of pineapple slices, a great meal to end a great day. Finally, we played a leadership game and read a story to help us further understand cultural immersion and cultural differences.
From our new home to yours,
Your GLA students
Authors: Eli Pollak, Miles Parker, Paige Monk
Written: July 20, 2017
Title: Ready, Set, Teach!
First day in the classroom! We headed out to our different school sites right after our amazing breakfast. Some groups taught their students first while others made the bricks first. Nerves were high going into the first lessons but everyone enjoyed meeting new friends and gaining valuable teaching experience. Most classes began with an actual lesson but eventually turned into games like duck-duck goose, four corners, and learning the Macarena.
After leaving the schools we came back home for a delicious (“evivi” in Ewe) lunch of avocado salad, tuna stew, egg stew, and oranges. Everyone then got ready to head out to the Anseco High School where we got to meet the local high school students. We got to know them by playing icebreaker games, singing competitions, and just random conversations. Saying goodbye was difficult, but we exchanged social media accounts so we can keep in touch.
We finished off the day with spaghetti for dinner and some group activities. Eventually it turned into a giant dance party and all the locals gathered to watch. We sang happy birthday to Barrett and ate some “evivi” cake. Now we are all heading to bed, excited for what tomorrow will bring. Over these past few days we have worked on being mentally and physically present and have realized that we will only get out of our experience what we put into it.
From our GLA Family to yours,
(“See you tomorrow”)
Authors: Hattie Fahnestock, Jacey Song, Hannah Poulsen
Written: July 21, 2017
Title: Ƒome (“family” in English)
This morning, we woke up resenting brick making for 3 hours. We were trying to figure out the best ways to be efficient with our mentor groups to get the best outcome. Even though everyone was sore and tired from yesterday’s work, the day turned out to be very successful; each group made an average of 100 bricks. The work was well rewarded with the big, smiling faces of the kids.
After some much-needed free time, we spent the afternoon with our host families. We split up into small groups to go to our host family’s houses. We learned their way of living as well as their hobbies; some groups even had the chance to learn Ghanaian games. We returned home for a hearty dinner of chicken, avocado salad, and mango. The night ended with an informational leadership activity. We learned the importance of open-mindedness and acceptance of others’ opinions (thanks to Ariel). Now we are off to bed for some well-deserved sleep!
From our GLA Family to yours,
(“See you tomorrow”)
Authors: Madisyn Morse, Mindy Curry, Madison Cass
Written: July 22, 2017
Title: Sunday Fun-day
Waking up slightly later than normal, we headed down to a splendid breakfast of French toast with an assortment of spreads, and with some locally fresh watermelon. Then, we got into our Sunday best, and headed off to a local church in the Anloga area. The church was jubilant, with lots of singing and dancing. We heard a sermon on humility, which was fitting for us. Then we sang in front of the church, beautifully, if we do say so, the songs “Amazing Grace”, and “Lean on Me”.
We headed back to base for a hearty lunch of the best spicy pasta and pineapple in all of West Africa. After having some free time to play ball with some neighborhood kids, we split into two groups and headed off to two local markets. There, we all picked through fabrics that we would take to a seamstress to have made into whatever we preferred, such as stylish grocery bags, practical pants, or elegant dresses. The vibrant colors of the fabric spoke of the rich Ghanaian culture.
Back at the home base, we lesson planned for the exciting week to come at our schools. Following that, we got into Chow Circle, and shouted out our fellow peers for participating passionately throughout the day, and nominated new leaders. Rushing into the kitchen, we were treated with fried rice, chicken, papayas and oranges. After dinner, many heart to heart conversations were shared throughout the groups. After a fulfilled Sunday Funday, we happily headed off to our home away from home beds. Goodnight—don’t let the bugs bite!
From our GLA Family to yours,
(“See you tomorrow”)
Authors: Kaylee Curry, Taylor Faiczak., Anni Liu
Written: July 23, 2017
Title: A-frican-mazing day 8
After waking up early and eating a hearty breakfast of eggs and toast, we headed to a morning of service at our respective schools. We spent the first part of our day making bricks, and improved upon our cooperation within our groups to set the pace for the week. After that, we broke off into our teaching partners and spent the rest of the morning in class with the kids. We then returned for a lunch of traditional Ghanaian stew, ‘red-red’.
In the afternoon, each of our groups headed to a different location. Julia’s group started their island tour with a boat ride and a visit to a shrine. They also learned how to weave baskets and mats. Solomon’s group visited Father’s House and played volleyball and soccer with the boys. Their interactions with the children there were eye-opening. Barrett’s group learned to make red-red and fried plantains from the kitchen staff. Some of them engaged in local style and had their hair braided by hairdressers.
Later in the evening, after a delicious dinner, we had a thoughtful mentor session to reflect on our day and the program so far. We then watched the first 45 minutes of the film Amistad for background on the Atlantic slave trade in preparation for our visit to the Keta Slave Fort tomorrow and Wednesday. With the movie we enjoyed some fantastic popcorn. After the movie, we headed off to bed after an eventful and exciting day.
Authors: Barrett Long, Julia Olson, and Solomon Doherty
Written: July 24, 2017
Title: Our Transformative Tuesday
After breakfast, we left the home base, headed to our schools, and prepared for an exciting day of work! We are all excited to say that most groups are now perfecting their brick making techniques and working together to come up with the most effective methods of building. Teaching is also now becoming second nature to all of us as we are getting to know the students in our classes and creating strong bonds with our teaching partners!
After a hard morning at work, we came back to a delicious lunch of yams, vegetable stew, and mangos (everyone’s favorite). Recharged and ready to go, we then headed out on our various afternoon adventures. Half the group had an emotional, inspirational, and informative experience at the Keta Slave Fort learning about the history of slavery in Ghana. The other half of the group had a relaxing and fun afternoon at the home base of GLA’s Building Healthy Villages program, Meet Me There. We learned about the sanitation and health issues facing the surrounding communities and the work that the non-profit organization, “Dream Big Ghana” is doing to help bring sustainable toilets to marginalized families and communities. We also got to enjoy a nice swim in the lagoon, play volleyball, go canoeing, and eat some delicious fries on the resort’s beautiful location!
The night ended with an extremely transformative leadership activity led by James and Fafa. We watched inspiring TED Talks on the dangers of generalizing an entire country or community, and learned about the importance of recognizing the problems that result from making assumptions based on our limited, individual perspectives. We all felt like we left the activity with new ideas on how we can use our voices to share Ghana’s complete story.
Authors: Maya Mutalik, Sarah Shaller, Jesse Fields
Written: July 25, 2017
Title: Whimsical Wednesday
Our group woke up bright and early today to enjoy a delicious breakfast followed by a great morning of service. Each mentor group worked extremely hard to build as many bricks as possible for their respective schools. After brick making, each pair of teaching partners began their new lessons for the day, full of excitement and energy. After a very successful morning, each mentor group headed back to home base for a tasty lunch of chicken and potatoes.
In the afternoon, we went back to our groups from the Keta Slave Fort and the Meet me There resort. This time, we switched locations to visit the one we hadn’t the day before. Yunah’s group went to the Meet Me There resort and enjoyed a relaxing time swimming in the lagoon, playing volleyball, and munching on the drinks and fries. We also learned about another GLA program that is working to build compostable toilets for the local communities. While this was going on, Elena and Mackenzie’s group went to visit the Keta slave fort. Although much more serious than the resort from the day before, it was incredibly interesting and we all enjoyed being in such an insightful place. The group was quiet and remorseful as we learned about the deep history of the slave fort and how they were treated there. However, after we left the fort, we continued on to a small resort that sat on the water. We sat around and enjoyed the view and the weather before returning back to home base for our evening mentor sessions and a lovely dinner.
After dinner we split into our groups one more time to listen to two guest speakers. Elena’s group had the opportunity to listen to Jeremiah from Father’s House talk about the child slavery and trafficking that goes on in Ghana. It was so sad to hear about such an awful thing, but we were all eager to know how we could help, and a long discussion followed after his speech. To end his time with us, he asked each of us what an issue in our community was, and how we could work to fix it. I think it opened up all of our perspectives to hear him talking about helping his local issues, and having so much success. The other group got to listen to Mr. Silas Aidem, a radio host, who educated us about the political and economic issues in Ghana. We learned about the different political parties, leaders, and the views of the Ghanaian people. We also discussed how we as leaders can help change the future by leaving a positive impact. We then headed for bed to get a restful night of sleep for the day ahead.
Authors: Mackenzie Conley, Yunah Jang, Elena Lloyd
Written: July 26, 2017
Title: Service, Seamstresses, and Speakers
Today we woke up and had breakfast at seven. We ate delicious chicken sausage, toast, pineapple and mangoes to give us energy for another eventful day of brick building and teaching. During brick making, the local directors were switched to observe the different brick building techniques. Today was a special day at school for the children. We played lots of games and sang songs to celebrate the last day before summer vacation. The kids were very rowdy and eager today due to the anticipation of break.
We had a big lunch of Chinese noodles which seems to be a favorite dish in the dining hall. After lunch, we had some free time in which we received our clothes from the seamstresses. We were even able to browse through the pre-made clothes they were selling that had bright fabrics that livened up the summer hut.
At two, the different mentor groups went to do various activities. James’s group had a cooking lesson and had their hair braided. Ariel’s group went to the island and learned how to basket weave. Ashley’s group went to Father’s House where they learned about child trafficking and slavery. Jeremiah, the head of Father’s House, went into detail about the history and current issues in the area regarding child slavery.
When all the groups returned, we were greeted with curry rice, chicken and apples for dinner. We then split into two groups to listen to the opposite speaker from the night before. Jeremiah was one of the speakers and he talked about the issues in Ghana regarding child slavery. He then went onto make us think about how we can address the problems in our own community at home that we see every day. Silas is a radio broadcaster and entrepreneur who spoke about the past and present politics in Ghana. He made us think about American politics and the impact of leaders in a society. We are all tired but excited for our departure to Ho tomorrow.
Authors: Payton Toomey, Isabella Johnson, Alissa Fairbanks
Written: July 27, 2017
Title: Heading to Ho
Today we woke up and had breakfast at six thirty. For breakfast we had toast, apples, and eggs. After eating, we loaded up the bus and headed towards Ho. We drove for three hours entertained by Keith and mentor James’ riddles. Then, we stopped at Kekeli Foundation to learn about how they help families with children who have disabilities. Their purpose is to help disabled children’s parents be aware of the accommodations available in the classroom. Also, once a student completes high school, this foundation helps the disabled individual to learn a trade for their future career. After telling us about their foundation, some of the parents told us stories about their children and their disabilities. After an hour, we said our goodbyes and thanked the Kekeli Foundation with a donation from Global Leadership Adventures.
Next, around noon, we headed to the Sky Plus Hotel for lunch. We had a variety of food including chicken, various types of rice, noodles, and French fries. After lunch, we got back on the bus and continued to drive to a place that specialized in batik-ing, which is the art of dipping stamps in hot wax and then stamping and dying fabric. After this, we headed back to the hotel and had free time until dinner. For dinner, we had the same options as lunch, but also pizza and ice cream. After dinner, we had our mentor sessions and they prepared us for the next day’s activities, which are going to a monkey sanctuary and a hike to the largest waterfall in West Africa. Today we didn’t do as many activities as usual; however, it was equally exhausting from traveling.
Authors: Corie Alvarez, Molly Cabatingan, Amanda Pignataro
Written: July 28, 2017
Title: Monkeys Galore
Saturday, we rose up early with the sun to visit the monkey sanctuary in Ho. The early start allowed us to hang out with the monkeys while they were active and hungry. They swung from tree to tree and climbed on our shoulders to feast on the bananas we brought for them. After chilling there for a while we got back on the bus and headed to a pizzeria for lunch. It was a fun and filling treat. Soon after, we were on our way to the biggest waterfall in West Africa. We started the trek to the base of the waterfall which took around thirty minutes. Along the way, we saw centipedes and all different types of plants and trees. We got to try raw cacao (which turns into cocoa) and our guide showed us coffee and cassava trees. Our hike was more of a walk and consisted of us crossing 9 bridges and small streams of water. When we finally reached the waterfall we were all sweaty from the walk and excited to get in the water. It felt like it was raining from the waterfall crashing down and spraying everything. We took our pictures of the gigantic waterfall and then jumped in. As we got closer and closer it began to feel like we were being pelted with sand but enjoyed it anyway because it was so refreshing. When we were all ready to leave we dried off quickly and walked back. At the end of the trail, we approached a market that sold anything from bracelets to paintings and more. Happy to have a chance to buy things for our families and friends, we sprang into action ready to shop. After we finished we loaded back onto the bus and rode back to the hotel in Ho. Some of us took a quick dip in the pool while others opted to shower. Later we ate dinner and after mentor session, we spent the rest of the evening relaxing pool side by playing cards and talking with friends. Overall it was quite a unique experience and definitely a memorable day!
Authors: Jules Kloner, Bri Arluk , and Katie Lambert
Written: July 29, 2017
Title: Return from Ho
Thankfully today we got to sleep in because breakfast wasn’t until 8 am. After breakfast, we headed out for our last adventure in Ho: visiting Kente weavers. We met Paul, a veteran weaver, who explained the history of Kente weaving and walked us through every step of the process. At the end of the presentation, we each got the chance to try weaving ourselves. Once everyone was done practicing weaving, we were able to shop and purchase ties, bookmarks, bags, and other woven goods.
Almost all of the afternoon was taken up by the drive back to Home Base in Anloga. During the ride, we got to listen to Keith’s playlists, learn riddles, or catch up on sleep. Unfortunately, the van got a flat tire about halfway there. But no fear, Stephen, Wiz, and the driver quickly changed the tire and saved the day. Back at Home Base, we were given lots of free time to hangout, unpack, or lesson plan for the coming week of service. It was nice to have a relaxing weekend getaway, but everyone was ready to get back in the classroom!
Authors: Sarah Shaller, Miranda Feinberg, and Kelsey Brown
Written: July 30, 2017
Title: Easing Back into Things
We started the morning off with breakfast at 7am. At 8:00, the groups headed off for a day of brick making and teaching. Our trip to Ho made it difficult to return to our usual routine, but soon enough we got back into the groove of things. After some hard labor, we changed and prepared for teaching. Due to the start of summer school, there were half as many students as usual so teaching was much easier. At 12:00, we left the schools and returned to home base for lunch.
After lunch, we had some free time to lesson plan and play with the kids. Then we split into two groups for the day’s activities. One group received dance lessons from two of the local staff, Wiz and Jerry. The other group was taught how to carry buckets on their heads and babies on their backs; this was taught by Seyram and Ewoenam. Both groups then switched activities. After some laughs and attempts at dancing, we gathered into our mentor groups and created a family tree.
To conclude the night, we watched several videos and a documentary surrounding leadership. One video was a TED Talk discussing the importance of acknowledging the small acts that make you a leader. We also watched a documentary called Girl Rising which follows nine different females across the world and their stories and struggles to receive an education.
Authors: Paige Monk, Addie Brewer, and Madison Cass
Written: July 31, 2017
Title: Spectacular Soccer Tuesday
We started off with a productive morning filled with brick-making and teaching. Then we came back and had a delicious lunch. Some of us took part in a tournament for Kan Jam, which is a Frisbee game, which was started by Miles and James and they also became the champions of the first-ever Kan Jam tournament in Ghana. We then departed, in our matching GLA shirts, for a game of soccer against the local high school. After a tough battle, GLA lost 6-2 to the high school students. After we said our goodbyes and ate some ice cream we came back to home base. We had a scrumptious dinner and then Dodzi came to talk to us about the value of education and his story of how he worked to get the education that he deserved. We then headed to bed so we could get a full night’s sleep.
Authors: Yunah Jang, Miles Parker, Taylor Faiczak
Written: August 1, 2017
Title: Chiefs and Keith
Started the day off at 7 am with a great breakfast and then headed off to service. The usual hard work came from each group so everyone was more than ready for lunch in the afternoon. For lunch, we ate the local favorite; red red stew, rice, and plantains. During the break, there was an optional mosque visit to participate in a prayer ceremony. The students who attended really enjoyed the opportunity to experience another religion in the Volta Region.
At 3 o’clock we left to go visit with the Keta Chiefs. Having the chance to learn more about their roles and responsibilities within the community as leaders were very interesting. Everyone participated in asking questions and the Chief’s humor was really appreciated.
With our days coming to a close we squeezed in a few minutes to play with the kids before starting Chow Circle. For dinner, we ate the delicious spaghetti, Bolognese. Then we went into the leadership activity to discover our “true colors.” The personality test helped us find who else in the group reflected themselves similarly.
Keith finished off the night with a phenomenal Peace Corps presentation. Hearing his experience inspired many of us to consider and respect the PCVs who are or already have served. Overall fantastic day!
Authors: Hattie Fahnestock, Anni Liu, & Kaylee Curry
Written: August 2, 2017
Title: Our River Adventure!
We started the day off with a delicious breakfast. Each group headed out to their schools, excited to teach and make bricks! After a hard morning of work, groups headed back to home base to eat lunch. Once we finished lunch, we were off to the river tour.
We drove to the river and then all boarded two motorized wooden boats. The ride was about 30 minutes to the island. It was a very relaxing ride until Steven threw the volleyball in the water which made us turn around a few times until we could get it back. To get to the island, we passed through an area where the river met the ocean. The currents and waves were very strong. When we got to the island, we put our stuff down and got to explore the island. We got to play volleyball, swim, relax on the hammock, shop and slackline. It felt like a tropical vacation spot.
When we got back to home base, we ate a delicious dinner. We had mentor group where we came up with ideas for the talent extravaganza and practiced our acts. Afterwards Keith led an activity which had us answer three questions about ourselves and share them. Then, we had the opportunity to ask all the mentors questions about themselves. We then all went to bed because the next morning, some of us would go to watch the sunrise.
Authors: Isabella Johnson, Mindy Curry, Jesse Fields
Written: August 3, 2017
Title: See Y’all Soon!
Many students got up bright and early for an optional 5:00 am sunrise viewing at the beach. Those who went enjoyed their unforgettable view and those who decided not to go enjoyed sleeping in. Today marked our final, formal day of service! After our usual breakfast routine, we headed off to our sites to start our last bags for brick making and teach our final lessons. Many pushed themselves extra hard in a pursuit to finish off strong. Two out of the three groups even beat their team brick making records, making the day one to remember!
After lunch, we went to Anloga market and did a fun scavenger hunt to help us engage with the locals! There, we also got a glimpse of the costs of common Ghanaian foods and goods and practiced bargaining for the best prices. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing games and having long discussions with our host families for our last visit together.
The night ended with a special surprise of coke floats and a presentation from two Peace Corps volunteers in Ghana! They shared their experiences and helped us gain a better understanding of life as a Peace Corp volunteer.
As our time in Ghana comes to a close, we are super busy saying our goodbyes to the amazing children we taught, coming together for our community talent show and bonfire, and getting ready for our farewell banquet with staff and friends. There is no doubt that there will be lots of tears as we get ready to leave, but we are excited to share with you the unforgettable memories we have all made.
Lots of love and see you soon!
Your GLA kidz
Authors: Maya Mutalik, Corie Alvarez, Amanda Pignataro
Written: August 4, 2017