Saturday, September 02, 2006
Orientation has begun this week. Thursday the students were introduced to the University of Ghana—and one student’s reaction was, “It’s so much more beautiful than it even looks in pictures!” They’ve been properly registered, identified, and settled into their dorm rooms. And Margaret, who watches who enters and leaves the student hostel, has already memorized everyone’s names and greets them all as they enter and leave. She provides a nice sense of security and belonging.
Friday orientation mostly involved lectures—about diseases one can catch in Ghana, why one would want to avoid them, how to maximize the chances of NOT getting them. (Malaria’s our biggest worry around here, but we’re all carefully taking our medicines and hope to avoid coming down with it.) Then there were lectures on security, and on the general demographics of Ghana, and an introduction to the Twi language. The students are now hypothetically capable of greeting each other in Twi, and to negotiate prices (sort of) in the marketplace. Today, Saturday, we all had our first lesson in riding trotros.
Trotros are smallish buses that run regular routes through the city. They’re made from any largish vehicle that can have benches bolted to the floor, and the driver and his assistant sit up front. The driver drives, the assistant leans out the side, flagging down potential passengers, collecting fares, and getting passengers to where they need to go. They’re the cheapest way to get around Accra, but they’re a bit daunting to use for the first time, so we all went as a group at first, and headed downtown with three student guides from the University of Ghana. Once downtown the students split up and headed around to various locations with their guides, and I came back and waited to hear how things went. They’ve just returned, and had a great time, saw so much stuff that their heads are spinning, and all look exhausted.
Tomorrow is church, then up to the Akrofi-Christaller Institute in Akropong for more introductions to the cultures of Ghana, proper ettiquette, religious aspects of Ghanaian culture, and some sightseeing around the Volta Dam and connected regions.