Thursday, August 31, 2006By Ruth Groenhout
All the students arrived safely last night, with nothing more serious than a few serious cases of jet lag. The flight from London was an hour late, and everyone was tired, but we got the luggage on the bus without mishap, and hauled everyone and all the stuff to the new home away from home the students will be using for the next several months: The International Student Hostel II. I’m having trouble uploading pictures just now, but will insert a photo of the group as soon as I can. Today will be registration and orientation to the University of Ghana. Friday we’ll learn about the people and languages of Ghana, and have our first dance lesson as well as our first lesson in Asante Twi. Saturday will be our introduction to the city of Accra.
Sunday, after church, we will head out to the Akrofi-Christaller Institute, in Akropong, for further introduction and orientation to Ghanaian culture
and history. Wednesday classes will begin, and the semester will be off and running.
Thursday, August 24, 2006By Ruth Groenhout
This is the last week before the students arrive and the semester really begins. I’ve been to see the dormitory rooms, and they are all ready for occupancy. The students this year will be in the International Student Hostel II, a four-story building constructed last year to house the expanding population of foreign students, as well as Ghanaian students willing to pay for the luxury of a double room (rather than a room shared with five others.)
It’s built in the shape of a large square around an open central courtyard. Two facing walls contain the dormitory rooms, the other two walls contain communal bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms. The inside courtyard is lined with balconies, and all the student rooms above the ground floor also have private balconies. And there seems to be adequate water and reliable electricity, which is more than I can say for the house I’m living in!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006By Ruth Groenhout
We have now been here for four days, and are getting settled into life in Accra. Tessa and I went to church on Sunday at the Legon Interdenominational Church. It meets here on the campus of the University of Ghana. The sanctuary is lovely, with high ceilings and fabric swags, and we were warmly welcomed. Other than that interlude, we’ve been spending much of our time here getting the structures in place that we’ll need for the semester, getting the house set up, and trying to figure out the rules of the road for driving.
TravelBy Ruth Groenhout
The trip from Grand Rapids to Accra takes around 24 hours. It was a bit more complicated than we had anticipated because of the heightened security after the discovery of the London plot. But even with tight security, flights left and arrived pretty much on time, and we were met at the Accra airport by a number of friends. It is certainly a relief to get off the airplane, stretch out, and move again.
One note to students: when you travel, take seriously the warnings about no fluids or gels in your in-flight luggage. We had a deodorant confiscated, and I saw an airport security guard debating about whether mascara would be allowed.
Arriving in Accra is a bit of an assault on the senses. It’s hot and crowded, with people and vehicles all over the place. The smells are different, the accents are different, and it feels at first like sensory overload. So having people to meet us was a real blessing. We piled our mountain of luggage onto carts (it took three) and careened across a street to where one vehicle was parked. Tessa went in that car to the house, while I followed with Annemaria and Gordon in the Calvin car. Traffic in Accra was very heavy, as we arrived at rush hour on Friday night, so there were lots of taxis and buses belching fumes on all sides, horns honking, and arms waving out of windows. The trip to the house took a bit longer than usual, but once there we unloaded luggage, were greeted by the Asiedus, and collapsed into bed.
The countdown begins…
Friday, August 04, 2006By Ruth Groenhout
Time is getting short for our departure date. I leave in one week with my kids, and the students will join us in Accra at the end of the month. It should be a great experience for us all, but also a bit bittersweet. The kids are all saying their goodbyes to their friends, and we’re packing the things we think we’ll need when we get there. We’ll find out once we get to Accra that what we thought we needed wasn’t quite what we should have packed, of course, but that’s part of the adventure of traveling.