Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year Everyone

Here we are close to the new year and alot has happened already. We have finished learning two dances. One better than the other, the one we know is called Gahu and the other is called tokei. We also learned the kidi, kagan, rattle, and bell parts to Gahu. Its been an amazing experience. My ewe is coming along, everyday i find i learn new words. Soon though will be an ending of this year and the begging of a new one. Im so happy to be here, in this country. Everyday i find myself learning new things about this culture. Happy New Years everyone, and may all your resolutions come true.....
Peace one love

Monday, December 28, 2009


Soooo, I was the luckly first to get sick on the trip. I was very fourtunate to get sick when i did because it started on Friday which was the first day of our 3 day “break”. The weekend was a break from our classes but not from new and exciting information. On Satarday we saw an exciting soccer game where the Dagbe team played against the Watee team from a nearby village and we won whcih was very exciting. Then later that day we got to watch a Babobo drum and dance which deffinately surprised all of us. The enthusiasm and passion that the locals had for the music was quite a sight. Many of them were yelling and screamming at the top of there lungs and i really got a good sence of the love and dedication these people have for their traditions and music. Then later that night i got a little dehidrated and fainted. It was a weird experience. On Sunday I woke up feeling so much better which made my day. Later that day we got to watch the Kinka association preform Kinka and some other songs. I really enjoyed this because they had big Atchimowu’s and the conversation between the two while they imporvised was incredable.

Sean Vallant

Friday, December 25, 2009

Jack and I have been following your postings with great interest and can't wait to join you in a few days. It sounds like you've all made an incredibly smooth transition to Kopeyia and are loving the village, the music, the new friends you're making, and the balmy weather. We'll be arriving in Accra on Sunday morning, spending that day with friends, and then hopping a tro tro for Ewe land on Monday morning. I'm so excited to return to Ghana and to introduce Jack to all its wonders. We can't wait to hear the amazing music you're all learning and to jump into drumming and dance with you. Christmas here is grey and cold, so arriving in the tropics will be very welcome! We send our greetings to all and wishes for a wonderful holiday with your new friends.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Hey everyone,
its been a very interesting experience so far, its christmas already and i cant belive that its almost the new year. I have continue to have classes at the art center. Yesterday though it hit me that i am not in America anymore, people were talking in Ewe and i really was confused. I dont know but sometimes i feel sort of out of my element, here. Well i am excited cause tonight we are going to cook dinner for the cooks as a present for them. I love to explore more and learn everyday while im here. I hope everyone has a beautiful brand new year and may all your wishes come true...
Peace One Love

words cannot describe

Today is our seventh day in Ghana, and I feel like I have been here for ages. Kopeyia is the village that we are staying in and it is so wonderful, there is such a strong sense of community and connection among the inhabitants, it is like one big family, which I love. We are staying in what is called the cultural center, which has far exceeded my expectations. They have made it very comfortable for us, we have real toilets and showers and nice comfortable beds with fans in all the rooms. I never expected all of this considering that a few years ago they didn't have electricity at all, but it is very nice. Every day we have two, two hours lessons, in the morning we learn African dancing and in the afternoon we learn drumming and all the other instruments. The lessons are really tough, the teachers really expect a lot of us, but I am learning so much and improving every day. I always thought I was totally tone deaf but I know that isn't true, because I am starting to get it, it just takes me a little longer. The teachers here are so patient and kind and they are helping me so much. Aside from the lessons I have been learning so much from our Ewe friends from the village. I have started a "language exchange" with a boy from the village named Jackson. He prepares lessons for me and then spontaneously quizzes me,  the language is very difficult so I am really glad to have his help. Even though most people here speak some English I think that it is so important to make an effort to learn the local language, and I think the people here really respect our effort to learn (even though I have only retained a few phrases so far).  Every day there is so much to see and do and so many wonderful people to talk with, I love it here and am so grateful for this amazing once in a lifetime  opportunity.  

Have yourself a balmy, rhythmic little Christmas!

Well, we've been here a week as of tomorrow, and I think everyone has settled in. Our lessons are going well - four of the group are studying Gahu, a social dance, and three of us are studying Togo Atsia - a very difficult "master" piece that has been keeping us on our toes. At night, we practice or play music with our friends here - Wisdom, a 17 year old young man with immense talent and patience, has become a good friend to all.

I see the students learning so much about relationships and village life in Ghana, something that I never could provide from a classroom. What a blessing.

So we are all healthy and happy, and looking forward to another week non-winter. Be well and more soon!


merry x-mas!

Its almost been one week since we showed up here in Kopeyia and it feels like we've been here a month. Im really starting to get the feel of Ghana and am understanding their way of life. Yesterday we traveled to Ho where we saw a borborbor performance troop. It was fun to travel outside of Kopeyia and see more of the country. The performance troop incouraged us to play and dance with them, it was a real experience. I liked Ho, I wish we could have spent more time there, but It was about a two hour drive back to Kopeyia, so we were in and out. This morning we went down to the market to buy some food that we needed for making dinner tonight. We are treating our cooks to a christmas dinner tonight. We thought it would be a nice gift for cooking for us every day. I heard tonight is a big party night so I think I'll head down to the beach tonight and go to a bar for some live music and drinks.
Ive been taking a lot of good photos and have gotten some nice shots so far. Photography is kinda my thing so Im hoping to make some kind of photo story book of my entire experience and travel here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

santa's big red coat wouldn't bode him well here

It's December 24, just a regular Thursday here; were we in the US, the stockings would be hung, children scampering about more than usual, radio's everywhere would be blaring the most god-awful music from every direction as mothers run about the supermarket fighting over the last can of Bisquick. Though my families tradition isn't quite as hectic as this, the lax atmosphere here makes that scene seem like the apocalypse. subtract 65 degrees and we may indeed dream of waking to a White Christmas tonight, but the prospect of an all night Gahu dance here in the village seems like just as good of a thought...
I've never learned as much in this short of a time, less than a week in and we're over halfway through a completely new piece, Togo-Atcha, and spending our nights with Wisdom pounding out Borborbor rhythms one at a time. Visiting Ho yesterday, a town about two hours northwest of our new home, gave us a sight of the countryside and one of Ghana's larger cities. Watching villages flash by in the backdrop of a fiery setting sun punctuates the beauty of this region. Even the car horns, which get used quite often here, don't carry the aggression that they possess in the states.

Hope you're all enjoying Christmas,

P.S. Judju, hope you're doing well (and havn't driven the family too crazy yet, I still need to have some fun with them when I get back).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ghana a interesting experience....

So when i first got off the plane, i encountered alot of new things on my way to where I am today. I got to see not only the citites of Ghana, but as well as the country side. This place is really amazing because of the people i have met so far here. They treat us like a part of thier families and they also remind me of alot of my friends that i have back home. They are really welcoming and warm-hearted people. I have experienced many different adventures so far. I am currently a part of an weaving, and dancing, and drumming, Art program, that has help me futher my knowledge of the Ewe culture. My favorite part is dancing, it makes me happy. I also got a chance to go to Ho a city where we saw a Babobo group play live, they were all in sync. This experience has been amazing so far, and yes indeed i am here, and I am safe... lol.....
-Athena (Tina) Matos

Monday, December 21, 2009


Just kidding. I am absolutely loving it here in Kopeyia! Just a few of my favorite memories...

Yesterday we went walking down to the beach. It was beautiful, but hard to believe that we were looking South! Everywhere you stepped you could see sand crabs making their way towards the crashing waves. A couple of the friends that we made here gathered piles of sand in their hands and hauled it at the helpless crabs to slow them down to make them easier to catch! It was such a riot! I also made friends with one of the cooks whose name is Mary. She is a lot of fun to joke around with! After dinner last night, we were hanging outside under the gazebo. We brought over the drums and everyone in the village came out to sing, drum, and dance! The girls put on a little dance called Kpanlogo, and I taught Mary a little bit of swing dancing! Today we went to the market; it was very busy. I bought some cloth to make a dress out of, which I am very excited for. One thing that Emmanuel, the director of the Center, said to us the first day we got here was that whenever people travel to a new place they are searching for something, they have a "question mark". It is such a great feeling to know that through all the wonderful staff and amazing people that have embraced us here those question marks should soon be washing away!!!

one more thing

me again..

A converstation with Emmanuel as we spoke about how the music has changed over the past few years: (paraphrased, but you get the idea)

"you can't change the music you play, if you want to make in faster or slower thats too bad; if you change the music, you change the whole song, it becomes a different song all in itself. the only thing you can change is the dance. music is the language, you cannot change it; if the word is "come" and you change it, it means different, it becomes something else, it becomes "go." you can change the dance, though, just as you can change how you "come." you can walk, you can skip, you can crawl.. but the word "come" is always the same. that does not change."

finally here

So far I feel like i've been here for weeks.  The people here are so friendly and welcoming, they make me feel at home.  Getting here was tiresome but it is totally worth it, ive made a lot of friends in Kopeyia.  My most memorable time since I've been here has been at the beach.  Emmauel took us to see his 10 acre farm located right by the beach.  he grows chili peppers and other crops that i forgot the names of, but mostly peppers.  There we were treated to fresh coconuts and papaya.  After the coconuts we went down to the beach where i was promised to be able to swim out to a mango tree to get some fresh mangos.  i didnt see any trees out in the water so i asked him where it was and he pointed to the ocean and said, "you just have to swim a little further and you will see it"  what a jokester.  We didnt have any mangos but we had a lot of laughs.  Im having a great time

hello everyone

well i dont really know how to explain everything that we are experiencing here in words. It is has been the most incredable experience of my life and we have only been here for 2 days. I have never been so in love with a music scene like this before. Even though I have taken Ghanian drumming with Joss for a year and a half now, being in Ghana and surrounded by the music in its culture has changed my view on music and life.

Sean Vallant

It's HOT in Ghana!!!

OK. 89-90 degrees is a great break from the extreme cold that has hit the northeast; however, the group has found out just how exciting it is to eat, sleep, drum, dance, and everything else while sweating profusely.

We arrived safe after a mildly chaotic flight; a direct flight is wonderful, from JFK direct to Accra, but the chaos of loading everyone on the plane was really amazing to watch. We actually left 1 1/2 hours late, but since we had a strong tail wind we arrived in Accra on time, 7:30 the next morning. The Dagbe center had 2 cars waiting for us, and they took us direct to the center, about a 3.5 hour drive. The road was really great till the town of Achimota (you can find it on Google Maps) and then it was red dust and potholes the whole way. (Katie managed to fall asleep while bouncing in the back seat; I have to learn how to do that!)

Since arriving that night, we've played drums with the folks of Kopeyia, gone across the street to watch a huge Pentacostal Christmas "convention" (a service with drumming and song that lasts all day/into the night), gone to the beach, toured Emmanuel Agbeli's farm to see how our sprinklers will work, had both dance and drum lessons, went to the local market, and much more. Hopefully I'll be able to post some photos at some point, but for now we're lucky to find a good internet spot that has a reasonable connection very close to the village.

Speaking of which, the village and Dagbe center are amazing, and much has changed since I last visited years ago. They have electricity; they ALL have cell phones (so those of you worrying about whether or not we can contact you if need be - oh, we could, and so easily!) So we are absolutely comfortable.

Tomorrow we continue our lessons; Wednesday we visit the town of Ho to watch a performance of a very beloved music called borborbor. We are happy, healthy, and having a great time. Except for some certain students who are trying to dash our hosts and convince them to write their blog entires for them.... STOP THAT!!

See you all again soon. From now on one student will post per day....



so i guess wh're here now, the dust is setteling in after one hell of a bumpy flight and an even bumpier drive across pothole-ridden streets and roads, it is wornerful i must say. imaging getting a back massage as you fly between pedestrians and trucks laden 20 feet high with widgets, doo-dads, and whatchmacallits... that was the introduction to Ghana.
living in Kopeyia: sot aroun a gazebo filled with drums that sound as happy as the people around us drinking as much water as you can to sustain yourself in the humid heat. watch lizards scamper about with children, bobing their heads to the music and keeping cool in the shade. welcome to a place where you ask the time and the best responses are "afternoon...ish." welcome to a new place, welcome to a home.

too good to be true...

Today is out third day in Ghana, and I feel like I have been here for weeks. So far this experience has been so amazing it is difficult for me to put my feelings into words. Ghana has been everything I could have imagined and more. The people, the music, the clothing, the food, the smells, the culture are all so wonderful. I have grown to love Ghana over the past semester just by learning about it in class, but being here the culture has really come alive. We are staying at the Cultural Center and the staff here couldn't be more wonderful. They have gone out of their way to make us feel comfortable and at home, and for this I am grateful.
It is difficult for me to choose an aspect of Ghanaian culture that I like best, but I must say the strong sense of community and family here is something that I adore and wish was a more prominant aspect of my own culture. Even though we are not from this country we were welcomed in as part of the community without any hesitation, which has made this place feel almost like home to me. I have already learned so much and there is still so much more to learn. I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity and I can't wait for the adventures and relationships that I have yet to experience.

Friday, December 18, 2009

the day before

Im finding out that this is not the easiest time of year to travel. I Left St. Mikes wednesday afternoon to drive home in the middle of a snow storm. I left school in such a rush to try and beat the weather, that I forgot my group t-shirt up at school, Joss is going to kill me! Sorry Joss.. It was good to come home for a day before my departure so I could say goodbye to my family and friends, and get all of my stuff together and ready. It just hit me in the past two days that I am going halfway around the world. I started my malaria medication and Im already feeling the side effects, the dreams are vivid.
Im just finishing my packing as I am writing this. I keep feeling like I am going to forget something else, but my list says Im all set. I can't wait to get on the plane and be on my way.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Predepature flight to New York City on the way to Ghana

Today was like any other day but it wasn't really ordinary. My plane to New York City was late and not only that, i would have almost missed this trip had it not been for the fact that i had my schedule of events with me and i had told the flight people, i had to meet you guys at one. It was bad, we waited for a hour and a half on flight 27 and then we found out that the brakes were frozen, so we had to go and either go to a hotel or wait for another plane, i was lucky. I got the chance to wait for another plane, and now I'm home after a little while. I am feeling so many emotions now, and after this experience i have a new outtake on life, i hope everything will go okay for us, and thanks for following us.....

Thanksgiving and Ghana Sprinklers

Hey guys just figured out how to use this, it was interesting getting to come and meet Professor's Price's friend and his daughter. They gave me a box of black sprinklers that we are going to use to bring to a farmer. We talked about not to be friends with goats and more interesting things, i am so excited.....

time to get ready and go...

Tomorrow we will be getting on a plane to go Ghana, I can't believe it. It seems so crazy to me that today I was skiing in 0 degree weather and in a few days I will find myself overwhelmed with heat in a completely different region in the world. Now that the stress and chaos of finals has subsided I find myself flooded with so many new emotions, nerves, uncertainty but most of all excitement. It is hard for me to know what to say in this blog entry, besides, I can't wait for the adventures that await me in this unknown place. I also just want to say how grateful I am to have this opportunity and how appreciative I am for all of the hard work and effort that is making this possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The only thing certain is uncertainty…

It’s getting down to the nitty-gritty. I’m cherishing these few days before we leave because nothing is like the excitement of heading towards the unknown. I think it is safe to say that after a full semester, foggy finals, heavy planning, and lightly packing, we can breathe a sigh of relief and get ready to travel to another part of the world!
Recently, I have been reflecting on a community dance class that I attended in early December, led by Johnny Scovel. He taught us some Haitian dances, most of which are influenced by West African dance styles. I was amazed to find that many of the women in the class had been dancing for about fifteen years. I was glad that I accompanied them, let my guard down, and had fun. One woman even gave me a sarong to make me feel like a part of the group. It improved my dancing, of course!
At times I didn’t understand what I was doing or if I was executing the dance moves correctly. While I may have found this frustrating it caused me to reorganize my apprehensions. A most important thought, that I am sure I will be reminding myself of while in Ghana, is that music is meant to involve people with their community, promote social interaction, and encourage participation. I’m ready to become actively engaged in my surroundings and not worry about the fact that I will not always understand what symbol or message is being conveyed. Having completed our Ghanaian Arts and Culture class I am confident that being immersed in what we have been studying will make this a very special endeavor yet!

Stay tuned!