Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Start of an Adventure: Accra, Ghana

By Carley Berman 

When you close your eyes and picture Africa, what do you see?

Lions and deserts?

I'd like you to take everything you think you know about Africa and completely erase it from your mind because chances are, it's absolutely wrong.  As we Scripps students take on the challenges of being in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, we have continuously been blown away and amazed at what we have discovered and are having unique experiences wherever we go.

 Before diving into the details of our incredibly busy and fast-paced trip thus far, let me give you some basics about Accra that I've found.

1. The people are incredibly friendly.  Everyone is so happy as they go about their daily lives and will go out of their way to help anyone in need.

2. The everyday food that can be found here is chicken and rice.  Seriously, I think I have had more chicken and rice here in two days than I do in a month at home - but I am completely okay with it because everything tastes amazing.

3. The holiday season is very laid-back in Accra.  The citizens "work hard, play hard" - they work very hard all through the year and use the few weeks leading up to Christmas as a time to relax and enjoy themselves.

So, what exactly have we been doing here in Accra?

Through The EW Scripps School of Journalism, we have been partnered with the African University College of Communications and spent our first full day in Accra meeting and dining with students and faculty - but only after attending an Africana lecture.  After warmly being welcomed by the students, the topic of the day was Pan-Africanism and we very quickly learned that the classroom atmosphere in Accra is very different from Ohio University's.  When students agreed with a statement that was made in class, students would cheer and clap in approval - there was a heightened sense of passion in the classroom that one does not typically experience in the United States.  Throughout our time in the classroom, it was easy to see that the students love to bring life and emotion into their work.

After our time at the university, we were taken to the Markola Market in the heart of Accra.  Our time at the market was an adventure in itself - picture Black Friday shopping, only with the shops that sell anything imaginable - including cow hooves and snails as big as your hand - piled tightly into one outdoor area.  The market consists of hundreds and hundreds of "stalls," one after another, for miles. As we walked single-file through the tightly-packed aisles, we were greeted by many different faces who wanted to meet us.  One woman made herself very well-known to our group by taking a snail and sliding it on our legs - she definitely found our reactions to be humorous. The experience was one that was wild, loud and colorful and it is a memory I would not trade for anything else.

A jewelry stall at the Markola Market: Accra.

Have your views of Africa changed yet?  These are only experiences from our first day here in Accra, so there is surely many more adventures, memories, laughs and changes to be had.

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