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The country met my expectations and beyond. Everything I have seen was like nothing I have ever seen before. The country is very under developed and there aren't many buildings and businesses for people to have jobs so everyone makes money by selling certain things. They will sell anything from fish to used shoes. Basically anything they can obtain, they sell. They wake up early in the morning and sit at their little shops all day long. The people there are unbelievable. They were all very kind and happy to see Americans Everything is outside in Africa. What I found the most extreme were the patients in the psychiatric ward that stayed outside. It was very unlike our health facilities where everyone gets their own rooms and rarely go outside. Here they all share rooms and stay outside all day long. Since there is limited housing and space, everyone has gotten use to being around each other all the time. One day we did the canopy walks where you hike about 15 minutes through the forest until you reach the top and walk from tree to tree suspended only by ropes. You look down and around you and all you see is trees. As you walk alone from the tree tops you can hear elephants in the distance and monkeys as well. Unfortunately we never got to see any of these animals, but they were there.
Ghana is very rich in tradition and history and we got to experience all of this. We visited museums, herbalists, Dr, Kwame Nkrumah's memorial, the W.E.B. Dubois Memorial and many other things like that. The greatest part of all these visits to museums and such was that you can actually get up close and touch these artifacts, unlike artifacts in our museums that are blocked off or closed off by glass cases. We also got to visit two slave castles and the tour guides described everything so well that you actually felt as if you were there. You could smell all the smells, sometimes the smells were unbearable, and you could almost feel the souls around you of the slaves that had been there. The greatest thing to witness while being there was all of the Africans who now have the freedom to walk about these castles freely where their people once were kept as slaves. They are using these castles to their advantage by making it a tourist attraction and gaining money from it.
The trip to Ghana is one I will never forget. There are certain things that keep replaying in my mind. I can feel the heat and smell the charcoal like smell. I went there thinking it was going to be an experience where I felt bad for all of the people and think there is nothing I could do to help them. After spending two weeks there I have realized that I do not feel bad for these people because they are all very happy. They may not have the luxuries like we do, but that does not bother them. All of the people there are always smiling, the children are happy and you can tell that they aren't living their lives wishing they had more. There are things that we were able to do to help. We donated money every place we went, and it may not be much to us but every little bit helps them. What I do feel bad about is their lack of technology and money to improve their health care systems and facilities. It is something they desperately need yet they do not have the money or technology to grow. They are slowly growing and have improved much in time, but I think it will take a long time to get them where they need to be, and that is what upsets me. Overall I was able to leave the country with a sense of comfort knowing these people, despite their conditions and lifestyles are very happy people. If I have the chance to go to Africa again I would go in a heart beat, and this is a trip I wish everyone had the opportunity to take because it will change your life.
After two weeks in Ghana, let me just tell you that you can never be prepared for culture shock. It was a completely different world over there. There were many different types of people. In general, people have the same qualities no matter what the culture is, however, I don't think I could ever fully adapt to Ghanaian way of life. I found it interesting that although we were in Ghana, we were never served true Ghanaian food. All of our food was very Americanized. We also stayed in relatively nice hotels. The only difference between American hotels and hotels in Ghana was customer service. I was expecting much lower quality than we had. I did however get frustrated at the fact that individuals in Ghana did not care as much about time as we do. Meals, tours, and everything we did took twice the amount of time it would have at home. However, I did not notice this while I was there, it is only now looking back that I realize the difference in efficiency. Most frustrating however was that everyone assumed that Americans are rich. As a student, I am not rich, however, people always asked for money or doubled the price of things when I came near them. Although I appreciate what I have more now that I'm back, I still do not think I am as rich as they assumed. I understand that this assumption is due to years of Americans handing things out to every Ghanaian they meet on the street. This is a bad habit and unfortunately for future visitors, this will not change any time soon.
The slave castles were the most moving part of my visit to Ghana. Although I did not think that they would have such a life changing affect on me, the castles ended up being the best part of the trip. I can't describe the feelings one has as you are guided though the castles and the holding cells. It is almost like a whole different world. I feel as if the castles held so much history that can not be told in any fashion other than a guided tour. There are some pictures of these castles in our pictures section.
I would definitely recommend that a person visits Ghana at some point in their life. It is a completely different culture and is so rich with life that you can only truly understand it by being there. I had a wonderful time and can not wait to take someone to Africa with me for a second visit.
Upon returning from my trip to Ghana, Africa I must say it does feel very nice to be back in the United States. I have learned a lot since traveling to Ghana. Before departing I wanted to learn about a different culture, more in particular health, healing, and gender and also about aids.
While in Ghana I visited both a traditional herbal healer and also the Ghana Aids Commission. I learned that historically herbal healing has played a large role in African medicine and today still has a large role in the medical field. I was informed that persons are actually are trying to combine both traditional herbal treatments with new modern medicines and treatments. The traditional healer we visited was very old and wise and educated us on how he lived off the land.
We also visited the Ghana Aids Commission and had an educational talk on the prevalence of Aids in Africa and the steps to combat the disease. I learned that some Aids patients are excommunicated and live in an outside community called Mungo Park. 10% of the Ghana population has aids and the commission is trying to use education and prevention to curb the aids epidemic. The chairman of the Aids commission is actually the president of the country, J.A Kufor. You're either infected or affected by the disease.
Overall, the trip was an excellent experience which can't totally be summed up with words. Highlights include a home stay with a Ghanaian family in Ho, the slave castles, the psychiatric ward in Accra, the resort at Coconut Grove and just the whole trip in general. The only bad thing was being stuck in the bus for long periods of time.