When I wake up tomorrow I will have been away from home a week; in Africa for five days. It simultaneously feels like an eternity and the blink of an eye.
I ran into weather delays on day one headed to Philly and ended up missing my team’s only pre-departure training day. There are 23 Peace Corps Trainees in my group: Health Volunteers in Ghana. I first laid eyes on most of them Tuesday morning as we boarded the bus for JFK. I felt a bit disconnected for having missed the introductions, which went on while I sat in the Atlanta airport eagerly awaiting my flight to join them.
As luck would have it, my ticket for our ten hour flight across the sea was next to my new friend, Barbara Sykes. Though we slept most of the flight, we bonded quickly, as I learned that she was also recently married (two years ago, but recent is relative in love). Once in Accra, Barbara and I decided to be roommates for our first week of training. It has been a good partnership, she bathes at night, I bathe in the morning, and we both like to steal naps when we can find time.
This week of training has been very full. Learning and practicing Twi greetings, being filled in on many of the preparations that went into our arrival (including how our training home-stay families and future work sites were chosen), and learning all about the customs of and appropriate behavior for Ghana. They, the Peace Corps Training staff, have eased us into the country. We’ve eaten simple foods and stayed on a university campus during this first week. Our rooms have running water, piped showers, electricity (most of the time anyway), and we surprisingly have WiFi nearby.
It has been a tiring week, filled with events and training sessions. Highlights have included an evening at the Ambassador’s home, mingling with several US aid agencies; another trip to Accra to visit the Peace Corps office and be greeted by the area’s religious leaders; and finally our team scavenger hunt, where we were released in the city to find our way around on the local transportation and find a few sites. My team had to find a military cemetery, the parliament building, and a conference center. We accomplished our tasks well, each taking the lead and relinquishing control at different times: a well-oiled machine.
So Africa, specifically Ghana:
Are mosquitoes biting me? You bet.
Am I taking my malaria mess religiously? Count on it!
Friendly people? Let me just tell you, on our scavenger hunt several people stopped what they were doing to guide us around (read as walk with us, sometimes hand in hand), and chat with us about our quest. From stranger to best friend in moments. Asking about where we come from and why we are here.
There are amazing sights and smells and I hope to post pictures soon.
On Monday when we wake up, a week into our journey, we move to our next phase: home-stay. We will move to the village of Maase where we will meet the family we will live and dine with for the next several weeks during training. We will have more freedom and be responsible for more of our day-to-day concerns. In addition to our other training, we will begin our specific language training there as well to prepare us for the region where we will be placed. The Health Sector Director is interviewing us this week to better determine where we fit into this crochet work (I should say Kente cloth) that is Peace Corps Ghana. Until then, I continue to look forward to exciting new experiences and to moving in with a family that will welcome me with open arms to their beautiful country.