Thursday, August 24, 2006

Last week…

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!

The University of Ghana has quite a lovely campus over-all, with lots of white-washed building with red tile roofs, large trees, and less traffic than most of the greater Accra region. The International Student Hostel is a bit further away from the center of campus than other dormitories, but there are a variety of market stalls and small stores located close by. Much of the campus is shaded by large trees, but I noticed several had recently been cut down. When I asked about it, I was told that the new Vice Chancellor is concerned about beautification on campus, and so is cutting trees down. Americans, of course, consider planting trees to be essential for beautification! Just one of the many cultural variables we’ll be encountering here.

I’ve also been downtown to go over parts of the route we’ll follow during the student orientation to downtown Accra. It’s an intimidating prospect at first: crowded, with lots of wild traffic, street vendors selling from booths set up on most sidewalks, and streets that meander in all sorts of different
directions. We’ll head down there as a group once the students have been introduced to the campus and surrounding areas, and help everyone figure out how to get where they need to go. Makola Market, in particular, is a great place to find just about anything, from salted dried fish, snails the size of a man’s foot, and pig’s feet, to gorgeous fabrics, beads and beauty treatments, to plastic buckets, tomatoes and onions. The hallways between booths are narrow, and people keep popping out to say hello, or good morning, and invite one in to the stall. My ten year-old had lots of EWWW-gross
out moments in the meat stalls, and we’ve all enjoyed wandering around and seeing the sights. 

Posted by Ruth Groenhout on 08/24 at 05:41 AM

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