Friday July 20, 2018
Hello from Anloga, Ghana!
With some rain today, we haven’t been able to post our first full blog entry yet! The staff has been eagerly awaiting the students’ arrival and we are so excited to have this team here. All students arrived at the airport safely yesterday and we are now together at our homebase, Pin Drop Hotel. From here on out, blog entries will be written by your leaders of the day. They will take lead in their own way through the day, and be in charge of communicating with friends and family with a blog post here every couple of days, including some photos too! We have spent time learning about each other and the program schedule and goals during orientation, and look forward to fun times to come! Stay tuned!
Saturday July 21, 2018
First official day in Ghana! We got up and ate pancakes for breakfast. Then, we had an orientation where we went over our group rules and expectations for our time here. We talked about local cultural norms and greetings. Following this, we went over the code of conduct. We then got to go out into the village and play with the local children. Many of us played soccer and duck duck goose.
Later, we split into mentor groups (these are our service/smaller groups). In these groups we decided on a group name and created a banner. Then, we had a Ghanaian dance and drum lesson with local teachers. We also had a Ewe (the language spoken in the Volta Region) language lesson from a teacher. We had another free time with the kids, playing games and getting to know each other.
In the evening after dinner, we had a “naming ceremony” from an “elder” (who was actually one of our local mentors with theatrical talent) where we were each given a Ghanaian name based on the day we were born. Everyone got a beaded bracelet with their Ewe name. Overall today was a great day and everyone is getting to know each other really well!
-Allie and Rina
Sunday July 22, 2018
Hi friends and family! This our third day here in Anloga, Ghana and truly got to experience the local culture. We began the day by going to a church service which is about a five minute drive away from Home Base. We danced and sang with the locals in the church for over an hour. Luckily, from day 2’s dancing lessons we were able to look somewhat less awkward while dancing! As we left church, we were greeted by local children and had the chance to meet the head pastor of the church, Pastor Gershon.
Secondly, we were split into groups of 2 or 3 and paired with host families from different parts of the Keta District. We had lunch with members of the families and played games and learned about each other’s traditions and customs. After lunch, we separately headed to our host families’ homes. At their homes we explored the neighborhoods, farmers markets, played games and discussed Ghanaian culture with the children and parents. Finally, we ended our night with the famous Ted Talk ‘A Single Story’ by Chimananda Adichie which was followed by the discussion regarding stereotypes about Africa and America.
-by Mara and Mason
Monday July 23, 2018
Hi friends and family!
Today was the first day of service—filled with sun, sand, and excitement! We started off the day with a hearty breakfast of French toast and apples. Then we split up into mentor groups to go to service. Although the schools were different, both groups participated in brick making. In order to make beneficial and sturdy bricks, there is a lot of hard work that needs to be done. Initially we thought that brick making was complicated but it only consists of sand, cement and water.
After making bricks in the hot sun for an hour and a half, we changed into our teaching uniforms and observed the classes. These classes range from kindergarten to sixth grade. Although it was completely overwhelming, all the kids and staff welcomed us with open arms.
In the afternoon we spent the day at our nearby beach, only a mere 15 minutes walk away from the Pin Drop Hotel. At the beach we played a variety of games including the value line game. It was a little too dangerous to swim, but we all had fun playing on the shore. We spent the evening preparing for our teaching adventures tomorrow. Each student has a pair that they will teach with and the lessons are catered to the grade. Overall today was a great day and we are looking forward to tomorrow!
Another update coming soon!
– Leaders of the day (Allie and Chloe 🙂
Tuesday July 24, 2018
Hello friends and family!
It’s been a beautiful day here in Anloga, Ghana. Today was our first day teaching in the classrooms. It was a wonderful experience filled with laughter and learning. We woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at the beautiful hour of 7 am, ready to take on the day. Our breakfast, as usual, was filling and delicious. After breakfast, we departed to our schools where we completed a hard hour’s work building bricks and having fun. We were jamming to music as we shoveled cement and sand. Afterwards, we fled into the classrooms and began our lessons. Some classes played hangman while others learned the Cotton- Eyed Joe. From learning about geography to playing Simon Says, the children and all of the GLA crew had a wonderful time.
After service, we returned to base for a hearty lunch. The cooks treated us to many local dishes that were both spicy and delicious. After that, we broke up into 2 groups, both talking about slavery and the impact it has had on the world in the past and now. Afterwards, one group went canoeing to an island while the other visited the slave fort located in Keta. The group that traveled to the island wove baskets and visited a local shaman. The group that visited the slave fort learned of the history that took place at this Danish-owned fort. It was a very impactful and powerful trip that will stay with all of us for the rest of our lives. We returned back to the base for a scrumptious meal, played a few games, and planned for the next day’s lesson. We are so excited to see what the next few weeks will bring!
xoxo Ashley and Rachel Z., signing off from Ghana.
S.O to Missy and Melissa, our beautiful moms. We love you! Xxx
Wednesday July 25, 2018
Hello friends and family!
Today was a great day. Firstly, we began with service: building bricks
and teaching the students at the local schools. Both mentor groups
produced the same amount of bricks today, reaching an all-time high of
93. The excitement in class was high today due to school getting out!
All the students were energetic and enthusiastic.
Later this afternoon the students either visited the slave fort or
took a boat ride to the local island. Our mentor group spent the day
at the slave fort and later visited a local restaurant for drinks. We
played some crazy mind games together, one of which literally no one
understood. Lunch today was especially unique, featuring a local dish
called “cassava” (basically squishy, sticky mush – but delicious!) and
Both groups were able to enjoy unique experiences on their excursions
– one group visited with a sacred priest, the others participated in a
cultural ceremony (which included being painted with baby powder).
Tomorrow’s schedule is promising, we will be visiting a local market
and designing custom, authentic clothing.
Corinn and Rina
Thursday July 26, 2018
Thursday had a full day today during service and visiting the market. Here’s our Latin dance party this evening!
Friday July 27, 2018
Today we started our journey to Ho. Once we reached the city, we went
to the Kekeli foundation, which is a small organization dedicated to
helping children with special needs in the Volta Region, and hopefully
throughout Ghana. It was very interesting to see how disabilities are
seen in this part of the world. In Ghana, it can be very difficult for
those with a disability to be accepted in society, which is what the
Kekeli foundation hopes to fix.
Then, after lunch, we visited Village Exchange Ghana, where we learned
how to make Batik, which is a traditional cloth. We each made our own
designs, and will be receiving them once they are all dry. Next, we
came back to the hotel and had a bit of pool time before dinner.
Additionally, we enjoyed the air conditioning and the WiFi that the
hotel has to offer. In the evening, we discussed where we are from,
and wrote poems which commemorated our identities, and we were able to
learn about each other some more.
–Dan and Justin
Saturday July 28, 2018
Today we spent the day in Ho and Hohoe. We started our day at 7 am, then left for a two hour journey to the monkey sanctuary. There, we walked into the forest and fed the monkeys bananas; sometimes they jumped onto our backs to grab the bananas. We then traveled another hour to lunch, where we waited for a LONG time to get our food. In the afternoon, we headed to the waterfall, where we hiked to the base of the large falls. Before jumping into the water, the mentors warned us about the possibility of contracting a bacteria that burrows in the skin, which can be found in some bodies of water. Most people swam and had a great time. After hiking back down the mountain, we briefly shopped at a craft market where local artists displayed their creative talents. Afterwards, we returned back down the mountain to the hotel. The sunset view of the forest together with the music in the bus was a great bonding experience. By dinner, we were all exhausted and ready for bed.
-Phoebe and Roark
Monday July 30, 2018
Dear family and friends,
It was back to service this morning after our fun weekend excursion to Ho! We were all a little tired. We started with brickmaking, and then teaching the first day of summer school! There weren’t too many kids at school because it was market day, so we combined some classes for some extra fun!
This afternoon we visited a local boarding high school, where we had interesting conversations with the students. We played a series of fun introductory games that allowed us to learn more about the students. We ended with ice cream and dance festivities which consisted of mostly the students dancing and us attempting miserably. We did show them a bit of our culture through the cha-cha slide though!
Tonight we discussed the word “culture” as a group – allowing us to expand on the differences we’ve experienced/recognized between Ghanaian culture and our home cultures so far. We delved into deep, meaningful conversations in which every member was able to share their opinions and how they’ve been assimilating thus far.
We ended the night with lesson planning and preparation for day 2 of summer school tomorrow!
Wish us luck for another exciting day of service and fun!
-Corinn and Maeve
Tuesday July 31, 2018
As we continued to get back into our community service routine after the weekend in Ho, we woke up at 7:00am and headed to brickmaking and teaching. As usual, the kids were very excited and happy to see us, though there were significantly less of them as regular school has ended, and summer school has begun.
After service, we headed back to Home Base for a delicious lunch, and then split into two (eve) groups. Group A went another GLA site that sat on a lagoon near the ocean about 30 minutes away from our Home Base. We swam in the lagoon as well as played ping pong, bought smoothies, and relaxed in the sun! The students at that GLA site were making composting toilets for local communities. Group B made some tasty Red Red, a cultural dish involving red tomatoes and red palm oil. Then we took a trip to Fathers House, a home that takes in former slaves and provides them with a home. The children were super cool. We played volleyball and Uno then walked down to the beach to enjoy the beautiful seaside. We thought we saw a shark in the distance. It was wild.
Later on in the evening we were graced with the presence of the chief who discussed the history and culture of Ghana. He talked about their cultural traditions that they have kept over the years along with many traditions that have evolved over time. Over all today was a good day and we are excited to continue with our service.
-Mason and Jeffrey
Wednesday August 1, 2018
Today was a great day in Anloga which started out with an early breakfast before service. The breakfast was served with delicious fresh mangos from the local market. However, the SuSu group experienced a minor setback when they arrived at their school and realized some of their bricks were broken from the “rain.” After brickmaking we enjoyed a fuller summer school class.
Once we returned from service, the seamstresses greeted us with our vibrant clothes, made from the fabrics we picked out a week ago. They also brought additional items for us to look through. It was amazeballs to see everyone’s custom-made Ghanaian wear. After everybody ate lunch, we departed to our cultural activities. Like yesterday, some went to MeetmeThere and the other group went to Father’s House and did a cooking lesson at homebase.
When we returned, we ate a mouthwatering dinner to end the day. After dinner we had an honorary visitor speak. His name was Jeremiah and he informed us of his work at Fathers House. He can be found on Instagram if you want to follow him!
Your Leaders of the Day
Jessica and Isabela
Thursday August 2, 2018
Hello friends and family!
We started our glorious day off with brick making followed by teaching. Both groups were incredibly pumped up and are one step closer to 2,200 bricks, which is our goal for the entire trip. After a delicious lunch, there was an optional visit to the local mosque. All those who went were impacted and gained a new perspective on the Muslim religion. After that, we were culturally immersed in contemporary Ghanaian dance lessons, led by the local staff.
We also learned how to wrap children on our backs along with learning how to carry loads on our heads, as the locals do. We had a wonderful and exciting dance party where we danced with the local kids as well as with each other. After dinner, we had a group discussion where we recalled our most memorable moments. This was very important as we all highlighted the most meaningful parts of our trip so far. As we reach the 2 week mark, we are all beginning to realize the impact our work has had on the local community as well as how fast the time flies. We are so excited for what the upcoming week has to bring!
-by Rachel Z. and Naya
Friday August 3, 2018
We started off our day as usual with our service. We have made so many bricks over the past two weeks and we are so close to shaving Alex’s beard! Also, we have been making progress in the classrooms and making stronger connections with the kids at school. To finish up our morning, we came back for lunch and were treated with some Red Red (local stew made with black eyed peas) and plantains.
To kick off the afternoon, we heard from our very own Fafa about her organization called Mother’s Heritage International, which is dedicated to rescuing girls who are forced to work. She is incredibly passionate and we all hope that we can find a way to help. Next, we went to visit the King of the Anlo State. After getting the ancestors’ permission to be welcomed, we heard from the king. It was very special to have an experience that even the locals may not get. It was very interesting to hear from the chief of chiefs and he was very grateful for our service in his community.
In the evening, Dodzi spoke to us about education in Ghana and about his personal life. His story was really moving and shows how valued education is here in Ghana, and further highlighted the differences between Ghana and our homes abroad. It’s crazy to see how quickly our time here has passed and we hope to make these final few days the best ones.
–Dan and Chloe
Saturday August 4, 2018
We started our day with service, it was our 6th day so we were all quite tired but managed to push through when we put some music on! We then played games with the children that had turned up for school on a Saturday. We returned to home base for lunch with two people from the Peace Corps organization. They then gave a very interesting talk about their experiences after lunch.
After that, we went to the high school to play a football match with the team. It got heated and it is unclear who won the match in the end. It was Allison’s birthday so we all drenched her in water, which is a Ghanaian tradition. We said our goodbyes and returned to home base for dinner, cake, and some talent show prep!
Sunday August 5, 2018
Hi friends and family!
Today was an amazing day! We started with a late breakfast at 8 instead of 7, and thoroughly enjoyed the extra hour of sleep. After breakfast we had an exciting photo scavenger hunt in Anloga, the city surrounding our home base. We had a list of things to take pictures of within the community, and we worked in teams finding all the different items. A few things we needed to find in the community included a cassava plant, a goat, a well, someone carrying a baby on their back, and a stack of bricks not made by GLA participants. We had to talk to the locals to find what we needed, so it was a great way to further immerse ourselves in Anloga.
After a hearty lunch of chicken and Ghanaian jollof rice, we hopped in our vans and drove about 45 minutes to the Volta River. From there, we took a short boat ride to a nearby beach where we spent the afternoon. Usually the beach isn’t insanely crowded, but today a festival of some sort was occurring and the beach was packed. Students swam, played volleyball, bought small souvenirs, relaxed in hammocks, and had so much fun! The sun was setting as we took the boats back to our vans, and the river looked so beautiful.
Dinner was delicious, especially because we were all super hungry and tired from our beach day. We ate quickly, then reconvened to do some self-reflection/group reflection as we near the end of our trip. Mentors asked us to consider where we have felt at peace here in Ghana, connections we’ve made with locals, and most importantly, how our service here, brick making and teaching, will have a ripple effect on our lives after we’ve returned home.
We ended the night with some free time and brief lesson planning before teaching tomorrow. We’re excited for more service since there are only three days left!
Your leaders of the day, Maeve and Naya
(P.S. Shout out to Alexa – I love and miss you momma!)
Monday August 6, 2018
Hello Friends and Family,
Today was another wonderful day in Ghana. It was also a very special day because Rachel Z turned 18! Our group woke up at seven a.m. and enjoyed breakfast together. We were then off to service, where we made bricks first and then taught in the classrooms. As per Ghanaian tradition, Rachel was soaked with water multiple times throughout the morning. After service we returned back to our home base where we ate a delicious lunch. At lunch, we sang Happy Birthday to Rachel. Afterwards, we enjoyed some free time before playing Jeopardy, when our knowledge of Ghanaian culture and history was put to the test.
Our afternoon was spent with our host families. We were all very excited to see our host families again. When we returned, we ate another delicious meal, and enjoyed some birthday cake. Rachel was again soaked in water by the GLA staff and some of the students. After dinner we all got ready for the talent show. Dan kicked off the show by rapping a song by Drake. Rachel W and Phoebe also rapped a British song. Rachel Z and I (Ashley) performed a skit emulating the Bachelorette with some help from local staff. Corinn, Maeve, and Mason snag the cup song. Jeffery did a cartwheel. Mason did a solo performance singing another song; and, Ellery also sang. Local staff demonstrated their dancing while our international staff performed a salsa dance. After the talent show we all had a dance party.
All in all it was a wonderful day. We can’t wait to savor our remaining days in Ghana!
See you soon!
Ashley and Mara
Tuesday August 7, 2018
Today we continued to make bricks and surpassed our goal of 2,200. We have currently made 2,220! We did our last day of teaching and the children were so sad to see us go even though we still have tomorrow for our final day of brick-making and games with the children. We had a delicious bean lunch. Yum Yum! We took a final trip to the market to get any final gifts. Then we visited each school that GLA has worked at and we saw how our service has affected the lives of many people. During this adventure, we took a detour to a local barber and said goodbye to Alex’s beard. He looks like a young Jane Austin. We then went to our home and ate some yummy din-din. We wrote letters to future GLA students and gathered in a candlelit circle to share our appreciation for each other. We then had an epic bonfire on the beach and looked at the stars. Tuckered out, we walked home and all went to bed. 🙂
Today was our last day of brickmaking in Ghana. L After brickmaking at our schools, we proceeded to take part in a Field Day where we played numerous games with the children. Our favorite included drip, drip, drop. After lunch, we all participated in a game where we reflected on our GLA experience. This involved using three different categories; our comfort, stretch, and rip zones. A statement was read and everyone stepped into the suited group. Soon after we discussed the reverse cultural shock that may occur when we arrive home, and following that, we began to pack our suitcases! Prior to dinner, we watched a drum and dance show which was filled with lots of energy and many amazing dance moves. We then had a Banquet, which comprised of many delicious dishes and some nice fan ice for desert; Justin will miss the fan ice. Finally, we watched a slideshow of images compiled during our three weeks in Ghana. That’s concludes our journey, hopefully see you again Ghana!
-By Justin Blieden and Rachel Winters