At the 2 month mark (1/3 of my total time here), I thought I’d look back and see what I’ve learned. Some things are specific to my position within PoP:
- I prefer chaperoning to entertaining
- It takes me about 2 weeks to recover from either
- It’s okay to be assertive with my superiors, indeed sometimes it’s necessary
And, there are some things that are specific to Ghana.
- Ghanaian English includes such everyday phrases as
- “go and come” – “I’ll be right back”
- “come on time” – still no idea
- “you will take beer?” – ‘take’ = ‘have/consume’
- “small, small” – “a little bit”
- “you are invited” – “would you like to share?”
- Make friends with the market vendors, get free food
- I must have acceptable answers to the first three questions of polite conversation; in order: “how are you?”, “are you married?”, “are you a Christian?”, and sometimes the fourth “will you take me to US?”
But my friend captures a good list for things learned about daily life in West Africa. A modified re-post from Emily’s blog as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin:
Walk around, leave your house, do not watch that next episode of the West Wing; Never underestimate the value of greeting someone; Start projects early, things will rarely work out as they planned; … Someone will always answer your question, but you have to be willing to ask first; Determine what you think is your capacity for patience, then double it; Your attitude that day will be directly reflected in the actions of your [neighbors]; Take advantage of what resources you can get your hands on; Sometimes, you just need to sit in your house, drink red wine and stalk [Twitter]; … A song is a powerful incentive; Sweating while not moving is possible; … Pounded yams. Eat them; You will become accustomed to three-inch long cockroaches in your latrine faster than you would think; After about four [weeks], you tend to forget what you don’t have; You will be surprised at the people who you miss; Some of the best things can be purchased from atop a person’s head; People’s perceptiveness will surprise you; Just dance; Tragedies in the US will still reach you even if you are six time zones away; [Students are some of the best teachers]; Don’t spend so much time doubting that your colleagues will come through; Surround yourself with good people, with them you can do anything; You can do this.
I would only add that I am pleasantly surprised by how comfortable life is here and how quickly I’ve adapted. I still daydream about things like winery visits or brewery tours and apple-picking, but on the whole, Ghana has been good to me.