After long flights from all across the US, Luxembourg, and Spain, followed by a two hour bumpy bus ride (or in the case of the later crew, a long and slow crawl due to mechanical difficulties), you all arrived at Henry’s home at the crest of a hill, surrounded by the plains and mountains of Krobo. You had no idea how close you would grow with the strangers you would soon come to think of as friends and family.
In those first few minutes, hours, and days, your senses were going wild; sounds of drums in the night and laughter from children in the park; sights of innumerable goats roaming about the streets, sheep running across the soccer field, and children smiling, wide-eyed smiles every day when you played with them at the park; tastes of Red Red, cassava, plantain chips, and all assortments of rices; and that fresh, sweet feeling of a cold bucket shower to wash away all of the well-earned sweat from each day.
In those first few days, your clothes and shoes became covered in a vibrant red dirt that just wouldn’t wash off. You wandered through a hectic market, jam-packed with people selling, walking, hawking, and talking. You wove your way through the crowd, and any time one of you may have started to wander in the wrong direction, a number of local ladies would call out to you saying, “No! Blefono (foreigner), your friends have gone that way,” pointing you in the right direction. Quite quickly you became a large family of sisters alongside one lucky brother. Through this whirlwind of cultural ‘newness,’ you came to know the little town of Asitey, where the drums play non-stop, as your home away from home.
In time, each of you found your personal groove. Some of you enjoyed those early morning runs, weaving down through town and up that hill that felt as if it had some sort of extra gravitational force, making it way more difficult than it looked. Others enjoyed morning yoga sessions on the roof, feeling the unique calmness that settles over the mountains in those early hours. You each played your own roles in the park as well, and I’m sure none of us will ever forget the infamous, Jeffrey, always standing up for and protecting you during soccer games! You impressed the local teenage boys with your soccer skills, proving that girls can really bring it.
Kortey was another local favorite, never failing to run around the park with a wide grin and pants that were constantly falling down to his knees. Others among you started a revolution of art, bringing ample supplies of paper and markers, sparking creativity. Children ran up to you to get some washable art drawn on their skin to show off to their friends. Still others played in smaller groups with the kids, or simply sat and chatted with them, exchanging stories of lives that had been quite opposing until this shared experience. The happiness that was ignited at the park was as vibrant as the red dirt that covered your clothes, but this happiness didn’t just cling to your outer shells. It sank in deep and was absorbed over time, leaving a permanent mark on your life’s story.
Our host family visits with Joshua, Andrews, Abraham, Hosea, Erica, and any local kids that we strung along on the way, taught us more than just the Krobo language. They showed us the nooks and crannies of the dirt roads that snake through the houses and compounds of the village. We learned about their lives and families, and we all exploded with excitement when they surprisingly showed up at the cultural dance night with their own performance.
Through the ‘Single Story’ TED Talk, you began to think about how to share not only one stereotypical story of Africa, but a multitude of stories that present this complex continent through a variety of lenses. Similarly, you began to understand the many stories that make up each of you as individuals, tying it all together in your capstones. You really opened up to one another, allowing yourselves to be vulnerable, coming to understand the struggles, triumphs, and successes of your new sisters and brother. None of us will ever forget the way that our local Ghanaian community made us feel welcomed and joyous. We all shared something special in this town of Asitey, and this experience is something that will live on among each of our fondest memories.
Some Highlights from the Trip:
-Morning jogging sessions up and down the mountains
-Morning yoga on the roof
-Art in the park: drawing pictures, coloring, and creating fun and washable designs on children’s skin
-Some students lost luggage, and others immediately offered to share their clothes and toiletries
-Hiking through the mountains at Boti Falls
-Making our very own Ghanaian beads at Cedi Beads
-Lettin’ lose and gettin’ down with some cultural dance
-Afternoon ab workouts
-Chatting late into the night until Sergio comes the the hallway and says, “Go to sleep! I’m not your dad!” 😉
-Our epic song competition where Jeffrey and Kortey got constant shoutouts
-Soccer in the park with the boyz
-Kortey and his super loose pants and crazy, contagious energy
-Caitlin and the Krobo Odumase Ghana Team