Tag Archives: Elmina

Life Skills From the 9 Obrunis

Although we initially had some difficulties with teaching, today we found that the process came more naturally. We spent our Saturday conducting a life skills workshop with the 12th graders at Heritage. We covered topics about relationships, career goals, and interview skills in order to help facilitate conversation about life after high school. We came into the workshop we a lot of apprehension. We weren’t sure how much we could offer the students since we are very unfamiliar with the business world and dating environment of Ghana (and in the US).

For the relationship workshop, we split the 12th graders up by gender with Elee and Jen leading the females and Kyle and Carey leading the males to make the students more open to conversation. We proved to be more competent than we thought, and all groups were very successful. We under estimated how eager the students would be to participate, and facilitate the conversations we wanted to have. In the healthy relationship workshop, both groups had open discussions about values and expectations in relationships. Through this we learned a lot about the dating culture in Ghana and did our best as young adults to act as mentors to the students and give them our thoughts on healthy relationships whether they be sexual or not.

In the business skills workshop, we conducted a Myers Brigg personality test, and then split up into small groups to discuss the meaning of the results. This workshop was very focused on pushing the students to identify and communicate their goals, and plan the path they need to take to achieve them.

We concluded the day with an etiquette lunch that was set up as a mock interview. We had students follow etiquette rules and pressed students with difficult interview questions. During open discussion, Katie and Chloe’s table explained how western culture overpowers Ghanaian influence in the business world of Ghana. This disturbed some of the students who felt like while they are open to bringing in western culture, countries like the United States do not bring in pieces of Ghanaian culture. Furthermore they voiced that when introducing US business culture they are sacrificing their own culture. For example one of the students noted that as a business man in Ghana it should be appropriate for him to wear his batik, he is expected to wear a suit.

The students reflected that Heritage is one of the few schools in Ghana that offers workshops such as this to better prepare students for the future. It also gave us a great opportunity to speak with students closer to our age and compare our goals and aspirations. While we think of college as a time to explore our choices before making critical life decisions, students in Ghana feel more pressure to have a career choice in mind before pursuing the financial and time commitment of university.

After the workshop Lilah and Rachel sent us all on a scavenger hunt in Ajumako. All of us enjoyed the experience of exploring the area on our own and creating connections with the local townspeople. The word “obruni” rang through the town as every child we passed waved and screamed. Within minutes we had a full entourage of little children.

We made it back in time to travel to a local woodcarving shop (Which many of you will be receiving presents from). We were in awe at the skills of these craftsmen who formed a chunk of wood into an intricate work of art within minutes.

Our day concluded with Elee befriending yet another Ghanaian child.

Tomorrow we are off to Elmina Castle to learn more about the slave trade in Ghana… check in later to hear more about our adventures 😉

Peace and Love,

Carey and Elee and the 7 other obrunis

P.S. comments never hurt nobody

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Bridges, Castles, and Fiery Deaths.

Today’s adventure started with a sad farewell to our friend and guide, Kwesi Koomson. After some teary adieus and a final group photo, we set off in our rickety school bus towards the Kakum National Park. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the now-familiar sight of women with big bowls of bananas nestled upon their noggins and babies at their bosoms. We gave our now-familiar response of denial, and Grace said sweetly “no, but thank you! ☺” as our bus driver sped towards the park’s entrance.

The main attraction at Kakum National Park is a series of swaying rope bridges positioned high in the canopy of the Ghanaian rain forest. Sweat dripping down our backs, we reached the ¬¬¬first bridge after a grueling hike up rocky rainforest terrain in crippling heat and near-suffocating humidity. Despite having flown 30,000ft in the air just a week prior, our walk at 100ft seemed far scarier with nothing but a two-by-four separating us from hurtling into the depths of the African jungle. Our fear was overcome by the gorgeous vistas and sprawling foliage all around us and just below our feet.

After lunch, we hopped back in the bus and headed towards the rural fishing village of Elmina, home of St. George Castle. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, St. George Castle was once used to detain captured slaves from all over West Africa before they were shipped to the Americas and Caribbean Islands. White walls gleamed in contrast to the site’s dark history of abuses against humanity. We stood silent in a slave dungeon imagining being chained in darkness with little food, insufficient ventilation, and no hope of rescue. As if the clock had rewound hundreds of years, our visit culminated with our guide leading us single-file into the Room of No Return. Had we been captured slaves, here we would have said our last goodbyes to our country and, if we survived the night, been shipped off across the Atlantic the next day.

Leaving the castle, our group was accosted by crafty salesmen, some with love notes written on seashells for a few of our ladies. Pushing our way through, we got back on the bus and headed home. On the way, we experienced some mechanical difficulties. Kelly sat in horror as she watched the bus driver lift a compartment on the floor to reveal the faltering engine, and proceed to drive for the next hour while manually holding two pieces of it together. The grinding of metal on metal assaulted our ears as Brianna considered her escape through the window in case the front of the bus exploded into flames. Kelly, Lilah, and Sam would have been at a loss. Andrew, the lone male, had been relegated to the back of the bus and thus would have remained safe should the rest meet a fiery end.

Fortunately our mental concoctions remained just that, and we made it home safely near 7pm. After an enjoyable dinner of beans, pineapple, and fried plantains, the group sat together, laughed, and shared stories until bedtime: 9pm. We look forward to a relaxing day on the beach at Coconut Grove tomorrow.

XOXO Your Favorite Obrunis,
Brianna, Kelly, and Andrew

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