Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Readjusting to Life in America

It took a little while, but it seems I've finally readjusted to American culture once again. The strangest part has been trying to keep the energy and general character expansion and learning I experienced in Ghana going back at home in suburban Massachusetts. Being immersed in another culture, and having limited time to learn, I felt pressured to be constantly present and to seek out every opportunity to see or hear something new. We had structured lessons every day, and ample opportunity to seek out further lessons. There were chances to experience going to markets, religious ceremonies, and funerals, less than a half hour walk or drive from Dagbe. Now, at home, I hope I can continue to hold onto the attitude I had in Kopeyia in my daily life here in the States.

I'm finding it even more difficult than I imagined to explain my experiences in Ghana to friends and family, even though it seems like yesterday I was teaching songs to the group(as depicted above). I'm glad to have recordings and photos to help, as it is almost impossible to explain the different music style we practiced at Dagbe.

Like others mentioned, it's weird having almost unlimited electricity, water, and food right at my disposal once again. Going into a grocery store a few days after I returned was very strange, I found myself yearning for the chaos and personality of a busy Ghanian marketplace. I have a renewed disgust with TV ads and general consumerism I see around me. However, I do have a renewed sense of appreciation for how lucky I am to have the comforts I do have, and have motivation to continue studying music, both in practicing cello and maintaining the songs I learned in Ghana.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Back to the Old Grind

So I've been back for a few days now and boy is it a different experience. Gone are all of the roving animals and the curious children. There are no spots to go to and you never hear the sounds of drumming in the distance. Everyone is so shut off from one another and saying hello is a thing of the past. But its green here and I can drink the water. I get to play guitar whenever I want and have steady internet access. I guess you have to take the bad with the good. All I know is that there is good in every part of the world and what little time I spent in Kopyeia was some of the best of the good I have ever had. I am starting to see it bleed into the way I carry myself in public and how I perform at work.

I am at school for the summer and am working pretty exclusively with technology (can you say reverse culture shock) and the people who use it on campus. In the past I found it a lot harder to interact with co-workers and customers. However, being in a place like the village where everyone is your friend has made it easier to truly feel that about the people I meet. I think this attitude is what I will take with me most going forward.

You cannot go through life shut off from people. Rather you need to meet them with a smile and an open palm. Life is too short to lock yourself away behind closed doors. I have never realized this more than now. To all of those who made this trip possible, who traveled with me, and all those people I met along the way I want to say thank you and that you have a place in my world forever.


Monday, June 1, 2015

It is hard to believe that I am already back in the states. After 30+ hours of travelling (I had an additional two flights home to Ohio), getting back into the swing of things has been a little harder than I thought. It's hard to think that I just spent the past few weeks making new friends, and now only time will tell when I will see them again, it feels like a dream and I'm not sure I'm ready to wake up. Although social media and technology has meant I am able to keep in contact with much of the Kopeyia staff, I am already plotting a return trip.

The states has been a little overwhelming to return to: the guarantee of electricity, the surplus of options at the stores, not having a small fear for my life every time I get into a car. However, I have been learning to allow my experiences from Ghana to flow into my life here. I've noticed that I picked up several habits that will take a while to go away, if ever. I constantly hand and receive things with my right hand, and expect to shake hands whenever I see someone. I won't lie though, the air conditioning has been a welcomed luxury upon returning.

I am so glad I finally had the opportunity to visit Kopeyia and see all that this country has to offer, even if I only saw the tip of the ice berg. Until next time, Ghana.


Adjusting back to America

Life since being home feels a little weird. Here, everything is bigger and much more fast. It can be slightly overwhelming.

Shortly after coming home, I went to a country music concert at which three big names in the country music world performed. It was different to see everyone do everything in unison like robots. In my head, the only thing I was comparing it to was a Ghanaian funeral which at the moment was a weird image because the two things are so different.

It is weird to see people driving here. Being from the Boston area, I had been accustomed to the driving the rest of the country hates so much before we left for Ghana but some people's driving still had scared me slightly. Since coming home, everyone's driving seems so calm and reasonable even though it has not changed at all.

While I was in Ghana, I happened to step on a sea urchin so walking around has been.... interesting lately. However, after going to the doctor's today, we have began to take it out, a process that will be continued at a later date. I am very thankful that only the larger pieces need to be taken out and that I will be able to walk normally again soon.

I think one of the hardest parts of being home is that people keep asking me how Africa was and if I saw any safari animals as if that is all the continent of Africa has to offer and the only reason a person would possibly travel there. After they ask their questions though, the people zone making it hard to educate them with your answers.

Back in Bellows Falls: Day 3

          I've been back home for three days now, and the 2 1/2 weeks I spent in Ghana seem like a sort of dream. Did I really meet those people? Did I really do those things? Was it really that short? It's a feeling that's impossible to explain, that maybe some of you who've had similar experiences can relate to. On the flip side, everything having to do with my life here in Vermont seems like such a long time ago. Yet here I am, back in the swing, back to work, back home and it's odd. It's not so much reverse culture shock, as I always new America was weird, and I wasn't in Ghana really long enough to totally acclimate. It's more so like something a Brazilian indigenous person once said about flying, that when you fly you travel faster than your soul can travel, and it takes it a wile for it to catch up with you.

          It's hard to sum up my experience: how it was, what it was like, what I did. Sometimes I felt really overwhelmed by the whole thing, sometimes I felt really comfortable and at home, sometimes I felt like there was so much to learn and so little time, other times I was unsure why I was even there, a lot of times I just felt tired and sweaty. I met a lot of amazing friends and teachers who taught me a lot about the music, but also about hard work and dedication. A statue of the founder of the Dagbe center reads "Whatever you do, do it well" a statement that really resonates with me now that I come home and try to figure out what's going on as I go forward with my life. Outside of the people themselves, Ewe music never ceases to amaze me, and getting such an up-close and personal look at it only made me want to learn more, not just about it specifically but about indigenous music and culture in general and how it forms and travels and hybridizes and morphs with time. I could certainly go back to Dagbe a hundred times and just be scratching the surface.

         The one thing I regret about the trip is there were a lot of times when I didn't feel like I was as present as I could have been. I'm a pretty neurotic person, whose has a lot of inner turmoil especially recently surrounding a number of things. I spent a lot of time in Ghana, as is true in the US, turning over a lot of stuff in my head and being in weird moods. Luckily, there was enough downtime during the trip that I was able to do what I needed to do to recenter myself for the most part without really missing out on anything. The trip even served as an excuse to deal with a lot of these issues and I certainly gained some great insights and learned a lot about myself.

         There were also a lot of moments when I felt totally peaceful, and lost in the moment. A few times that jump out to me are the last funeral we attended, the serene afternoon basket weaving sessions, and goofing around at "the spot" with our Ewe friends.

         All in all I haven't had much time or brain space to digest the trip, as I've been thrown right back into things here and right back into my old thought patterns and hang ups. But I'm sure as time goes along, and I reflect on the experience more and more, I'll uncover a lot of insights I got from the trip that I have yet to notice. One thing I do feel is thankful for all of the great friendships made and deepened, and everything that people both Ghanaen and American did to make it an amazing experience.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

The "gang" on performance day!  We left for Elmina the following morning; the students did an amazing job dancing, drumming, reciting Ewe, singing, and being a part of the Kopeyia community.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Last night in Kopeyai

Before the trip started, Joss said that right around the time we left was when we would have finally begun to feel comfortable and settled in here. I now know what she means. Tonight is our last night in the village. We performed what we'd learned, watched some amazing performances from our teachers and some local kids and had a great meal. My only regret is that I didn't learn more about these amazing people and their amazing music. I suppose it's just insentive to come back someday. I feel so deeply thankful for all that everyone here has done for us and all they've given us. I've met some incredibly inspiration people and some people that are just plain old fun. It's sad to leave, but being the homebody I am, I do feel like I'm ready to head back to old Bellows Falls, though I've got a few days to go.

Final Thoughts

Hey so this is Jess not Ben.

Unfortunately tomorrow morning we will be departing from Dagbe. We have made some good friends and memories here and it is a really bittersweet close to a great almost two weeks.

Today we presented to the village of Kopeyia what we have learned here. I participated in three dances, one of which is a social dance and occurs everywhere you go. Tonight we had a feast with the staff members and it was amazing to be able to interact with them a bit longer.

Wrapping things up was hard but it was interesting to see how much learning you can fit into a very short time. Not only the short amount of time that we have been here but today itself. I was taught how to weave kente with multple colors horizontally today whereas previously I could omly weave one string at a time.

Something I find very interesting about here is that although the children are children, they are also very muture in a few ways and given a lot of responsibility that Americans do not give their children. The atmosphere here is much more relaxed, trusting, and friendly than that in America. It will be insanely hard to adjust back to a very fast-pased and anti-social lifestyle that we go by in America.

'Till Next Time, Kopyeia

My time at the Dagbe center has come to a close. I simply cannot believe it. In a little over 16 days I have experienced a completely new world I was not expecting. So here are some thoughts.

I am usually not the kind of person that can make friends in a short period of time. This trip has proven otherwise. The group of people I have been travelling with are some of the nicest people to have around for an extended period of time. There was little to no drama and everyone was so supportive of each other. The staff at the center also proved to be an excellent group of incredibly caring and talented people. They push you but without making you feel inadequate. Too often back home I feel that professors make mistakes seem like the end of the world. But here it is simply something that can easily be fixed so that you can do your best. I think this attitude is what I will miss the most. On another note I believe I have learned a little bit more about myself.

I have learned that I am capable of stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I see this most in the dancing we did. I expected to come here and really hone my drumming skills but instead found myself working on (and excelling) at dancing than at drumming. I will definitely bust some of the moves I have learned here on American dance floors.

So this is goodbye to Kopyeia for now. However, I know it will not be my last.

So long for now,

Final days before the concert

Hello again everyone. This is actually Ben, if anyone is confused, my account is one of the only ones working on this internet connection for some reason.

Today the group and a few staff members went to the market, which is a maze of stands full of linens, food, and other necessities and crafted goods. I had a good time haggling for beads and bracelets, trying to get past the "yevu price" for goods(yevu=foreigner). Afterwards, we went to the beach for a swim. The rest of the day we hung around, were made fun of by the village children in Eve, and geared up for our concert tomorrow.

It's sad to be at the end of the trip, especially now that we are comfortable with being here, and becoming close friends with many of the staff members at the center and others in the village. It will definitely be strange to adjust back to technology laden fast-paced life in America. The highlights of my experience here in Kopeyia were the ceremonies, especially the funerals we attended. As you may have read, these events are huge social gatherings, with dancing, eating, drinking, and merriment, alongside specific rites surrounding the passed persons. The most recent one we attended had two massive dance/drum circles, one for the "Kinka Association", where everyone was wearing green and playing Kinka, a traditional Eve song with a distinct bell pattern. We saw many acquaintances we had met at other funerals, and danced with them and exchanged greetings. I had the honor of dancing with the Chief.

Another thing I'll be taking away from this trip is a new understanding of music from people who practice it as a way of life. A crucial part of Eve music that has been reinvigorating to my interest in playing music is how different it is from Western music. Although many parts of pieces can be felt in two or four beat patterns, it is best to let go of these counts in your mind when performing the music. Bell patterns might have 3 or seven hits in a "measure", but I found that understanding them as continuous let me feel them more accurately. Background drums and shakers might come in twos or fours, but also have a flowing feeling, especially as lead parts often bend and weave between what we might think of as conventional timing in the music. Learning songs with my teacher Mensah has also given me a more intuitive idea of singing, especially in harmonies. When Meaghan and I asked him to instruct us on harmonies, he told us just to sing them, and practice until they naturally sounded decent.

I'm sad to be leaving Ghana and I hope I'll be back again soon, but I am definitely looking forward to eating some familiar food and sleeping on a mattress that won't be drenched in my own sweet halfway through the night.

P.S. I began posting this before the concert and we had a blackout just beforehand. So I'm writing now after a successful performance! We got applause, not laughter, from the villagers and friends attending, meaning we did a decent job dancing. I performed ten songs I learned, and Lauren recited the Eve alphabet and other phrases she learned. The staff members had some amazing dances which Joss caught on video.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Time and Speed

After spending enough time in Kopyeia I have come to notice some interesting aspects about the mundane things in my life that are much different here. I am of course referring to the phenomenon of Ghana time and Ghana speed.

In the U.S. we are essentially obsessed with time and how to use it effectively, as if it were some scarce resource. We build schedules around a 24 hour system and we have phrases like “to be early is on time and to be on time is to be late.” Ghana time doesn’t work that way. For instance, we were told that a funeral will be happening at 1 p.m. and that we cannot be late. We were told this at 1:18 p.m. If you are given a time here it is anywhere between the given time and 1-2 hours later it seems. Ghana time is very slack in comparison to the sometimes neurotic approach back home.
Ghana speed is the tempo at which things are done. For us, this is mainly the speed of the music we are playing and dancing. What I have noticed about this is that its nature is that of extremes. The music is either done deathly slow or blazingly fast. There does not seem to be any in between (of course like all things Ghanaian there may be a degree of subtlety I am missing.)

Ultimately, Ghana time and speed have taught me to not be obsessed with quantifiable time and that if you are going to play music – or do anything for that matter – do it to the extreme and don’t hold back.Good advice, don't you think?


Final Thoughts

Meaghan here....

This week has brought us many more events that I could have ever anticipated when looking at our original itinerary. On Saturday, we had planned to go to the beach, but the rain decided to pay us a very welcomed visit that morning. After the storm, the humidity lifted and we felt ready to face the world outside of the Center. For us, this meant going to our third and final funeral of our trip.

The other two funerals we had been a part of were nothing like what Joss has described or shown us in class, as the circumstances surrounding those who has passed were not ordinary. Saturday's funeral, however, was just as I imagined, only so much larger. There were four different groups playing music, two of which were very large. There were some places where you could stand in one spot, but depending on which way your back was turned could join a different group and musical style. The atmosphere was festive and everyone was using this funeral to truly celebrate a life. I have found that the funerals in Ghana are so much more cheerful and strangers like us are not a confusing occurrence, but welcomed guests.

I have found that this trip has flown by for me. I think what has impacted me more than anything on this trip is that I have seen so many small similarities between my culture and Ewe culture. Kids all act relatively the same, begging for attention and acting off around one another. Goats will always be cute. There are ways to communicate that aren't through verbal language, but with a smile that can mean so much more than an empty "hello". As everyone practices drums and bells and singing, it brings me back to the chaos of practice time at the music camp I attended as a kid. I have found that maybe the world is not all that large.

There are things that I will certainly miss when I'm back in the states that cannot be replicated: being surrounded with all of the talent and music found in Dagbe; automatically turning my head when someone yells "Yevu!" ("Foreigner!" or "White Person!") and knowing they mean me; being surrounded by a language I cannot understand, save a few words; and most of all, the friends that I have made here. There has been so much encouragement and support from the staff of Dagbe that have fostered an environment that I immediately felt comfortable in, and I cannot thank each and every member enough. It is hard to think that in just two short days I will be in a different part of the country, and then preparing for my trip home, but I have a strong feeling that I will be back.

Friday, May 22, 2015

I know a lot of people were curious about what kind of food is eaten in Ghana, so here is what our meals typically look like.

Breakfast: bread, peanut butter, bananas, coffee, hot chocolate
Lunch: rice, spaghetti, or cassava with semi spicy red sauce, pineapple, and occasionally mango
Dinner: pretty much the same as lunch with a usual addition of chicken, and oranges instead of pineapple

From time to time we do get something different, such as beans, plantains, or a spinach sauce.

A day both exciting and mellow

Today started with an hour long dance class, as opposed to our usual 2 hours. None the less, after it was over, I was probably the sweatiest I've ever been in my entire life. We ran through the two peices we will be performing for the village on Monday afternoon and they both look pretty solid.

After that we were told to rest, because we had a big afternoon ahead of us. I took the opportunity to do some laundry. At Dagbe, we do laundry the old fashioned way, by filling up a bucket soaping up the water and rubbing our clothes between our hands. Although washing clothes by hand is something a lot of Americans cringe just thinking about, it can be very relaxing. Today, when I was just rubbing down one of my dirty socks, all alone in the back of the center, nowhere to be and in no hury to do anything, I felt about as calm and relaxed as I have this entire trip. And now I have clean things to wear!

Starting at around 1 we went to our second funeral. But this funeral was special. Joss' Mom died a couple of years ago and she never got a funeral. Joss thought that giving her an Ewe funeral would be a great way of rectifying that. With the help of the Kopeyai cheif and a local preist, Mary's soul was layed to rest today along with the anscestors of a local family. Like all Ewe funerals, it was a blast. Unlike in the US, where going to a funeral can seem like an onerous obligation, here everyone loves a good funeral, and there's an open invitation to anyone who wants to show up. There was some amazing music by the Kinka society, lots of dancing and revalry, and even a surprise apperance from the school brass band.

We all danced our butts off and were all happy to come back to rice with beef and red sauce with orange slices. Now we all plan on a nice quiet night of Uno playing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Arts in Ghana

Hey! Jess here not Ben

Here in Ghana I have been focusing my time in the afternoon classes on basket weaving, kente, and batiking.

Basket weaving is actually much simpler than it appears and it is cheap. Baskets are made from a local plant whose leaves are cut apart to give the frame of the basket and the weaves. Starting the basket is pretty hard however. Once you lay down rods into a circular shape, you have to begin weaving the basket and it is hard to make the weaves tight while keeping the rods in the posititon that you want them in. After weaving a few rows, you simply bend the rods upward and continue weaving until your basket is done.

Kente however, is much different than basket weaving. With the loom, stings are attached to ropes to put in between your toes. You press your foot down and pass a sting horizontally between all the vertical stings and then press your other foot down and reapeat the process over and over. However, after awhile, your shoulders and back begin to ache and it is hard to do for much more than five minutes at a time.

Batiking is amazing. There are many different methods that can be used to batik. You could use a stamp to press hot wax onto a cloth or you could sprinkle hot wax onto your cloth. To die it, you can either submerge the entire cloth in dye or fold your fabric and hold part of it in dye and then hold the other part in another color die. If you are going to submerge the cloth however, and you want your cloth to be more than two colors, you will need to restamp hot wax another time after the dye dries and then dye the fabric again. After your cloth is finished, you take the wax off the fabric by submerging it in boiling water and then placing it in cold water after and scrubbing away the wax.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Nightlife in Ghana

Hello All! Meaghan here, not Ben :)

Settling into life in Ghana has been surprsisingly easy, although very hot and humid compared to the weather we left in the States. The lessons have been pushing me, but I have felt myself grow more comfortable listening to the teachers and picking up the rhythms with more ease each day. It is easy to grow intimidated by the talent and skill each teacher has, but we could not have a kinder group teaching and helping us.

We have grown a tradition of sorts to spend our post-dinner evening time at local "spots", or places to hang out and enjoy a soda or just relax with friends. Last night, we encouraged some of our teachers who are our age to join us, and hilarity quickly ensued. We had one point where we had to go around the circle giving our best goat impressions, later followed by turkey impressions (both animals are found incredibly close to Dagbe, to the dismay of a few members of our group who wake up at all hours to their calls). A few members of our group left the spot, but those who stayed also got to show some American dance classics to our Ghanaian friends: the Cotten Eyed Joe, a few disco basics and the likes. Our teachers were sadly not impressed (what a shock!), but all had a great time. The experience of hanging out outside of classes and the Center made our lessons today much more relaxed and enjoyable, and I have a feeling that these friendships and relationships will continue to blossom.

I am sure we will have more great stories to tell in no time! For now, I will sign off and join the others at the spot :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Life in Kopeiya

It has been a week since we embarked on our journey to Kopeiya. Needless to say it has been quite the experience. We have been a part of several local customs and partaken of the area’s cuisine (it is not every day one eats guinea fowl and groundnut soup with one’s hands!) So now I have to ask myself: What is it that I’ve learned so far? 

My answer to that question is that the whole structure of this village and its people is one of continuous motion. There is very little separation between different parts of life. There is no separation between the secular and the sacred. Gahu the song is nothing without Gahu the dance. The list goes on. Life simply is life.
One thing I’ve noticed in regard to this is that when a person is tired here that person will rest. It is not uncommon to see members of the staff resting between lessons. I feel like this would be an invaluable lesson for our hustle-and-bustle lives back in the States. Too often it seems that Americans do not get enough rest and we are only allowed to sleep for a significant amount of time between the hours of midnight and six (at least for your average college student.) I cannot help but believe our lives would be much easier if we simply allowed our lives to flow as they naturally are supposed to. 

We have a little over a week left here and I can only hope that we all can take a little bit more from this small corner of the world and bring it to a much wider audience.


P.S. Technical difficulties on the part of the user means I'm posting this as Ben. :p

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A quiet Sunday in Kopeiya

After a week of long plane flights, strenuous classes, sweaty nights with little sleep, a market visit and the other day to day excitement of being in Kopeiya, we decided that today would be a bit of a lazy Sunday. We planned nothing, besides maybe a nice little walk to the water shed to see some interesting birds. A couple hours later we were in the middle of a Brekete service, shaking hands with a diety.

Brekete is a religious synthesis of local Ewe traditions, indigenous religion from the Sahara desert and Islam, brought down to the region from the North.We walked into the village to a small pavillion where people sat and played Brekete music, or danced. One woman was taken by the spirit of a God in front of our eyes. The God, working through the woman, went around shaking our hands and welcoming us to the ceremony. We were then welcome inside the shrine itself, a very unusual honor. Wile in there, the church members wished us good luck in all of our endeavors, not just in Ghana but in our lives. Joss asked us all to take time to think about just what we were doing in our lives that we wanted to receive their good wishes for.

The people of the ceremony were extremely welcoming and inclusive, which has been the norm since we arrived. This has been a very pleasant surprise for me, because as a white American, I see little reason why anyone in this part of the world would want to welcome me anywhere. But the hospitality of the people here in Ghana never ceases to amaze me.

After the ceremony we got some much needed rest. After that we went to a local soccer game at the school, which showcased the absolutly stunning athletic ability of some of the local youths. After a tough back and forth first half, Kopeyai dominated the match, with a final score of 3-0.

The day was wrapped up with what was in my opinion the best meal we've had since we got here. Ground nut soup (think peanut soup but better) with ginea fowl (think chicken but better.) The whole time I ate it I felt the soup singing me to sleep. Sleep has been difficult here with the heat, but something tells me tonight it wont be so difficult. And I certainly hope it wont be, because we're picking back up with dance lessons tomorrow at 9 sharp!

What we planned on being a lazy Sunday ended up being very exciting, but at this point, I've gotten accustomed to expecting the unexpected.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Funeral in Ghana

                On Friday, the group and some of the Dagbe staff attended a funeral about twenty minutes from the village we are staying in. Unlike funerals in the US, in Ghana people who did not know the deceased were welcome to join in the ceremony. We walked through neighboring farmland, and had a fantastic view of palm trees and a slightly clouded sky behind the corn and cassava crops. We then entered a large, slightly wooded clearing, passing by merchants selling food, drinks, and random necessities. I was thankful for the shade provided by trees after walking in intense sunlight for twenty mintues or so. There were two areas where groups of drummers were playing, surrounded by people sitting in a squareish shape, with room to dance in the middle. Those who wanted to dance would wait until space cleared, and enter the dance floor. Pretty much everyone in the group ended up dancing, as it is a custom for people to grab others and invite them to the dance floor. 
       One group played Agbeckor, the social dance where participants bend their elbows and press their shoulders together to the beat of the drum while stepping forward across the floor. I was holding a water bottle in my right hand up by my chest, which I later found out is how you signal to someone that you want to give them something, so I had two women take my water bottle and drag me onto the dance floor. I tried to remember the movements as I had many sets of eyes on me being the only white person in the dance area.The other drum group had a smaller space for daning, where two to four people displayed more improvisational dancing. Although the drumming areas were pretty cheerful and upbeat, the overall tone of the funeral was kind of strange and solemn, as the deceased had gone unexpectedly. Joss and Brian mentioned that normally, funerals would be more upbeat; a celebration of the one who passed. They spoke of one they attended for a master drummer, where he was posed behind a drum, and buried in a drum-shaped coffin.
People wore a variety of types of clothing, from traditional fabric garb to Western T-shirts dress clothing, sunglasses, and baseball or flat-rim caps. Others wore a mix of styles. The pre-burial ceremony seemed chaotic  from our point of view, but was in line with normal practices in the area; a group of eight or so people lifted the coffin of the deceased above their heads, rocking it back and forth to the music, running it around to different areas where the passed soul spent time in his life. One had to be careful to stay outside the path of this procession. This was very touching, and at this point the grief of family and friends was visible. Overall, this experience was new and unique to anything I have experienced before.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

So I am Jess and I am a Studio Art and Art Education double major and
am going into my sophomore year at St. Mike’s.
It is our second full day in Ghana and unfortunately, it is coming to
an end. We took a trip to our compound, inside the Kopeyia village,
late at night when we arrived. It was weird to see how the taxis in
the capital looked like pieced together cars from scraps. Also, it was
weird to see that driving seems like a lawless ordeal. People casually
drove on the wrong side of the road to get over speed bumps simply
because the speed bump was more worn down on the other side. The
military and police stopped us multiple times on our journey but not
due to suspicious activity but rather just a normal police stop that
everyone had to go through.
Upon arriving, we slept a lot. When we woke, we were greeted by a
delicious meal which was followed by mandatory dance lessons. Each day
we have breakfast at 8am, dance lessons from 9am to 11am followed by
lunch at 12pm. Our next scheduled activity is at 4pm to 6pm which is a
lesson of our choosing followed by dinner at 6pm. We can do whatever
we choose with our free time, such as roam the village or take extra
So far I have taken two dance classes, a drumming class and a basket
weaving class. Much to my surprise, basket weaving is much easier than
I would have expected.
I am much enjoying here as I am sure everyone else is but it can be
hard to become accustomed to the heat, the noise, and the storms.
There was a really loud storm that kept the majority of our group up
last night.
Although it has only been two days and I much enjoy it here, I am
looking forward to the trip home. Hope you all are having fun in
America and I will see you all soon.