Thursday, April 19, 2012

Easter in Ghana- The Church of Christ Congress in Winneba and Egg Dying with my Host Family

This post is full of pictures from my Easter in Ghana. I know the post is almost two weeks late but that is alright. Also, as of yesterday, I have been in Ghana for three months! Can you believe it? No wonder I have been so homesick but at the same time extremely comfortable and confident in my new environment.

Here are photographs from my trip to Winneba for the Church of Christ Congress with my friend Portia and the new friends I made for four days in the central region as the only oburoni who has ever gone on the trip. Along the way, I have noted some very interesting inter-cultural experiences. At the bottom I have included pictures from dying Easter eggs with my host family.

 All of the University of Ghana students going to the congress came on this one Metro Mass Transit bus, some guys had to stand (but of course, the women can't be left standing).

This year the University of Education, Winneba in the Central Region was hosting the congress (like a conference), which is a University for aspiring teachers.They provided accommodation and space for the conference itself as well as transportation to and from the accommodation.

As this mattress indicates, we stayed at the University of Education, Winneba Getfund Graduate Hostel (like a dormatory). It is called Getfund because at one time a bunch of universities in Ghana got funds to build hostels and they named it after these funds.

I got the chance to stay with five Ghanian girls in one room for three nights and I learned so much! My first lesson is that Ghanaian girls are not modest around other women AT ALL, but not a single guy can get close to the room while they are getting ready in the morning.

These are two of the beds in our room at the hostel. We had 6 mattresses (two for the floor) and originally 6 girls (but one left, as well as a mattress). I was glad all 5 of us had our own mattress and, together, we shared one room of just us.

The side of a University of Education, Winneba Bus

A cultural note: no vegetarian or lactose-intolerant options were given in the provided food. Instead, there were separate options for people who can't eat beans. How funny!

 The first night they served kenkey and fish with pepper sauce because it is a traditional food to the people of the region the congress was in, central region Fante people. When I opened it I asked, "What is this?" and Portia laughed and said "Food!". If it weren't for this conference I probably never would have tried kenkey, which I should be happy about... But I really don't like kenkey.
Me posing with a statue on campus- Portia was very impressed with my ability to mimic his expression.

Sheep wandering through the campus.

My mom sent Easter peeps with my brother and I decided to share them with my new friends at the conference. They all wanted to know what they were and how we eat them. I said they are seasonal, only sold at Easter time. I explained that they are marshmallows covered in sugar. I then received the unexpected question "What is a marshmallow?" One girl even asked if they can comprise a meal in America! After thinking about it, I explained that they are like candy and made with gelatin. "What is gelatin?" Hmmm... I explained "An ingredient made from the hooves of animals." Then I was asked how people feel about eating that. "They don't really think about it." They liked it and told me they understood why it was seasonal, it is so sweet you can't eat it often.
The peeps I shared with my new friends.

Getting dressed up for this congress didn't mean professional clothes as I thought. One day I took out my shorts a a t-shirt and the girls kept suggesting I wear something else. Each top I pulled out was never right, according to them. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn't about the t-shirt but the shorts. Getting dressed up here meant being girly, which apparently shorts wasn't. This also includes lots of jewelry and hair accessories and nice shoes. Later that evening, I realized I was the only girl in shorts- every other girl was in skirts or dresses. I also realized that I can get away with a lot because I am an Oburoni (foreigner), such as wearing shorts. It is as if anything where I do fit in is shocking and amazing.

The beads on Portia's dress that she lent me on the second day.

The beach in Winneba- a beautiful place to relax and having amazing conversations.

At the beach in Winneba, we saw people weaving together palm tree leaves to make a fence. How cool!

A view of the beach in Winneba, I loved it because there were few buildings and just trees, sand and ocean as far as you could see. I don't think I had ever seen a beach like that before, in it's natural state. No chairs and hotels, just nature. It was beautiful! (note, in the picture, the little boy with the larger bucket has his hat to the side, imitating the "gangster" look)

Once, when we were eating, I noticed that the yoke of my egg was blue/gray. Everyone laughed at my shock! Eggs very so much here, from yoke color to shell color to shape.

None of the Ghanaians around me understood why I thought this sight below the stage was so funny. Oh Africa.

A presentation at the conference.

In Ghana, many things that are nice would be considered extremely tacky in the US. I think it is because tacky things are cheap and that is what Ghanaians often can afford. See the next two photographs for examples.

A bow to decorate the room in which the congress was held.

A friend from the congress and the bow and clip in her hair, looking girly as ever.

I had a fascinating debate with students there about gender norms on the congress bus. Without going into too much detail, it was about how guys always gave up their seats for girls so that they didn't have to stand. This is considered respectful as a gentleman. This happens because, in Africa, as many people who need to fit onto the bus can fit. Therefore, we always ended up with a crowd of standing males. The conversation started because I tried standing and all the girls were in an uproar that guys hadn't give their seat up for me. I explained that I thought it was demeaning for men to give up their seat for me to sit. I am perfectly capable of standing, just as capable as any man. One guy agreed with me but two girls didn't. This debate got louder and louder and included a random pedestrian and a stranger on a trotro. In the end, there was no agreement. That was the most interesting part.

Here are students getting onto the bus that transported us from the hostel in the north campus to the congress on the south campus.

A group of students playing games on the beach.

Me and Portia jumping on the beach in Winneba! (you probably can't tell but I am wearing her Afro wig, it was tons of fun)

Sitting on a stone as a wave crashes over me and completely drenches me in water.

In shock after becoming soaking wet by the wave.

The wildlife on the campus included things much smaller than sheep.

When I got back from the central region I took out my Easter egg dying kit that my mom sent with my brother. It was also a funny experience as Ghanaians don't have many Easter traditions except on Good Friday they wear mourning clothes like they wear to funerals.

My host brother Emma kept jumping in and asking Titi to snap a shot, it cracked me up because he wasn't even working on an egg with us.

Here I am with Evans, patiently dying our eggs (Evans' egg was luckily off-white but Titi and mine were slightly brown). Even though we didn't do anything complicated at all, it was fun.

Me and Titi with our eggs.

Our final eggs, simple but fun.

Despite the fact that I definitely was sad to miss Easter at home with my loving family in America, my Easter in Ghana was certainly different from any I've ever had before and it was truly an amazing experience.

1 comment:

  1. So good to see the pictures. I will never eat a marshmallow again now that I know they are made with gelatin yuck. He what was that food anyway. Do you tear it apart?