torsdag 16. juni 2011

Pictures

If you want to see pictures from Ghana click this link. I'll add more albums soon.

Home!

I am home again, and it feels very good, but it is also weird! In one way, being home again felt completely natural. As though my life have been sat on freeze since I left three months ago and I just get into the same old pattern of daily habits as before, like I've been here all the time. Yet, at the same time, it is a very strange experience.

The smoothness of everything here, the convenience and the esthetic aspect of everything makes me feel almost confused. It is like entering some sort of fairy tale land. Everything is so appealing. Everything in my house is clean. Everything looks nice, and everything smells nice. My bed is soft and warm. The air is perfectly tempered. When I shower I can turn on a knob to get the exact temperature on the water that I feel like. If my clothes are dirty I just put then in a machine and push a button. How convenient! It's like we have come up with this really intricate way of living to minimize our physical labor and maximize our comfort. 

It almost makes me feel like we all live in an illusion. From living in Ghana I have got a grip on the fact that the way we are living isn't natural at all. All these things we do in our daily life is so matter-of-fact to us, but right now it seems so fascinating to me how people behave like this is the natural way of life. Because, really, it's not! It appears to me as almost an extreme way of living. We have around a couple thousand items in our house, and we have so many things to do that we barely have time for sleeping. Everyday we are subject to a massive exposure of information, advertising and entertainment. And while flexibility is a good thing, we are faced with so many options that many of us don’t know what to do with ourselves. It's almost like I start wonder that maybe the problem is not that many countries are under developed, but that we have over developed!
For example, instead of fetching a fish in the water and eat it, we fetch the fish, send it half across the earth to China so they can process it and pack it before they send it half across the earth back again. Then it's transported to the store, and we buy it there, but unless the label told us it was fish we wouldn't even be able to tell because it comes in the shape of rectangular pieces and has a doughy texture! (I'm talking about "fiskepinner")
While there are many things that I think is better about living in Norway, at least, in Ghana, things are not all that complicated. You do what you have time to today, and if you don't finish, then you just continue tomorrow. If you want to see your friend, then you just go and visit him/her, instead of checking your calendar to see if you both are free at the same time three weeks from now on.

But so there is no doubt; I do not want to trade my western lifestyle for a permanent life in Ghana! I enjoyed staying there for a while and experience life from another angle, but even for a slowpoke as me the Ghanaian pace is too slow!

mandag 6. juni 2011

Last greeting from Ghana!

I know I said I would update the blog last week, and I didn't. However, I did go to the internet cafe to update it, but it was closed, so don't blame me!

My last week in Akroso started today! While often I have thought that time has went by too slowly here, now it seems like the day of my departure are coming way too fast! I realized today I will really miss some of my coworkers at the school! And the relaxed atmosphere! However, I will not miss the heat. I will learn to appreciate the Norwegian winters from now on! I am tired of sweating like a pregnant fish. (That's what they say over here, and I didn't know that a fish could sweat neither.)

Since this is my last week, and I feel like I'm running short of time here, I will most likely not update the blog any other time before I go home. I will post the entry I mentioned last time after I get home, and also write some more about life in general in Ghana that might be of interest, especially for future volunteers. I will also post pictures on my blog when I get home.

So for now, this is it, but I will see many of you soon, and I am very excited about it!!!

tirsdag 31. mai 2011

Tomorrow, I will think some car!

Alright, it's been a while so time for another update!
Despite a sad incident that has taken place (It does not feel right to broadcast the story on the web, but I can tell about it when I get home.) that has resulted in me moving to another host family, I am doing well. Anna went home at Thursday so for the remaining two weeks I am the only Obruni in town.

I’ve been working on a longer entry about common presumptions about life in Ghana and how they are wrong. I haven’t finished it yet so I will post it later this week. In the meantime, you can read a little about the work at school.

The work has been quite frustrating the past weeks. Teaching here is really an exercise in patience and not giving in to frustration. For some time I thought we were actually going somewhere in a descent pace, but then I asked the children to answer what I considered to be very easy questions about a text we have read in class. It goes like this:

(In the text book it is written: “Fox wanted to go to an island and catch some ducks, but he did not want to get wet.”)

Q1: What did Fox want to do?
A: Fox wanted to island. (This is the best answer, given by the top student)

Q2: What did Fox not want to do?
A: Why did sing not that song?

Q5: What did Fox eat at the island? A piece of land surrounded by water. (I had written the definition of “Island” on the board. Even though in this definition most of the students do probably not understand the words “piece”, “land” and “surrounded”, which is why  I also drew an illustration for them.)

This is just some of the examples of how things are not exactly running smooth over here. Here is another one:
A car drives 352 km/h. If it drives in 24 hours, how long is the distance it will cover?
17 cm seems like a reasonable answer, don’t you think?

tirsdag 3. mai 2011

Baby Police is back in Akroso

If anybody wonder, Baby Police it is me..That's the name my host sister Akos has given me. Don't ask me why. It is no real reason for it except that Baby Police is a Nigerian movie/soap opera, and that among me and Anna, I am the youngest and smallest one.Other names I go by here is Adwoa (name given to every girl born on a Monday), Baby Older Journalist, Butterfly, Carol, Kalaline, Kaloline, Karaline, Kalene, some that I have forgotten, and occasionally Princess Tiara. Not to forget Obruni! Obruni, Obruni, Obruni, Obruni. I hear that probably a hundred times a day. Has it started to get on my nerves? Not at all...

So anyway... I am back to Akroso, which by the way is a small town rather than a big village, and we went back to school to teach today. We was in somewhat of a hurry to get there in time today so we picked up the walking pace a little, which means your back will be covered in sweat from a fifteen minuites walk in this climate. And when we got there, just in time for the official time when school starts, there was no other teacher there. Appareantly this day was dedicated for sweeping the floors and getting the school building ready for a new term. Which of course is to be done by the students, so a few of the teacher came around 9.30 to see how they were doing and one gathered them for a short assembly to give them a small rapture because they weren't being serious enough. So tomorrow, at least I think so, we are picking up our lessons again. To be honest, I'm not all that excited about it, cause the english results from last semester test was somewhat depressing. I wonder if they even know anything else than How are you and I am fine in english, and I think only a few kids understand me when I teach. Their engllish books has a much too high difficulty level.

WHile I once again planned on writing a good, long entry, then once again, the computer takes the spirit away from me. THiis one is somewhat smoother, but everytime I type wrong it takes forever to correct it, so please excuse all typing mistakes and poor grammar from now on.

Like I mentioned last time, me, Anna and some swedish girls went to the beach over a long weekend. Maybe it isthe prize to pay for throwing it in your face that I'm going on a beach vacation while everyone else is getting back to school, work and exam pressure, but I got a flu and spent most of the days sleeping and reading Animal Farm in a shaded area. I am a lot better now, yet at the best, my voice sounds like Tracey Chapman without pitch control. Everytime I try to get amyones attention on a distyance their names comes out as muted squakes, it is very funny. However, I need to say that the food was delicious at Kokrobite. I ate fresh salad and chocolate for the first time in seven weeks, and I did not eat rice for four days in a raw!
THe place was also quite charming, the name of it  is Big Millys backyard. WE slept in some sort of dormitory tree house, in lack of a better way to explain it shortly.  It would have rather idyllic if it wasn't for the fact there was somewhat of a storm the first tonight and our bed that I and Anaa shared got soaked on one side. Friday night was culture night, and there was traditional african drumplayers, song and dance. I thought the dancing in particular was pretty facinating.

SInce Jing has made a request for me to tell you more about my table tennis sized boil, I will do so. It is indeed quite interesting, yet growse. I discovered it the first day of the holiday (which started 25 days ago), and at that time it was little and from after doing some research I assumed it was a lymph knob that had swollen, andf didn't worry much about it. Then a little time later I went to Tamale and Mole National Park in the north and it had grown to the point where I could not put my hair up in a ponitail using my arm, and putting on a t-shirt required quite a bit of effort. I still assumed it would go away soon, but after more than two weeks it was still there. Despite a lot of wellmeaning advices from the locals, including different kinds of herbal creams, leafs, and one time my host sister put palm oil mixed with salt on it, and while it worked very well on dying my clothes orange I don't know if it had any effect on the boil or not. However, when I finally went to the doctor and got back with a stack of antibiotics, it finally became a hole on it, and it was such a morbid, yet funny experience. It was like I had an armpit nipple and Anna emptied it for blood and body fluids for me by squeezing it. So that's pretty much the story, I hope you enjoyed it, Jing ;)
I havn't mentioned it before, but I have also had Malaria for some weekss over here, so I've really got what I was looking for wanting a real African experience..

Well, I really gotta go,  tace care everyone!

torsdag 28. april 2011

Short greeting!

I was indeed planning on writing a long and good entry today, however, this keyboard that I'm writing on is certainly not fit for that! I have to press every key down with force so I'll leave for another day. So I just wanted to say Hi and let you all know that I'm doing fine! (Except I've had a tennis ball sized boil in my armpit which I might tell you about later if you can handle the details...) While school here is not back in buisness until next week, me and several Swedish girls are heading for a place named Kokrobite, to enjoy the beach and western food for some days. Doesn't sound bad, huh? I hope everyone at home had a great easter vacation, talk with you later!



Edit... I apologize to those of the worrying kind for forgetting the word Table in front of Tennis Ball. I did not mean to exaggerate and my boil was not that big!

torsdag 14. april 2011

The answer is: It's perfectly normal! What's the question?

To say "It's quite normal" in a particular sarcastic way has become sort of my and Anna's favorite joke over here. Just because nothing happens like you would expect it to do in Scandinavia. We have gotten into a state of mind where nothing surprise us anymore. We don't look twice when kids carry big wooden stocks on their head or someone greets you from the top of a coco nut palm. It's quite normal!

Riding a motorcycle in flipflops, shorts and t-shirt? Completely normal.

Dress up in your nicest dress and plastic silver high heeled shoes when you go to the doctor? Perfectly normal.
Wear a combination of flipflps, dress pants and no shirt? What would be wrong with that?

Watch chinese movies without dubbing or texting? Nothing less than to be expected!

Answear question on how long time it takes from Europe to USA with a bus? Well, nothing funny in that...

I hope I don't appear like I'm making fun of the people because I do have a lot of respect for the Ghanaian cpeople, but it illustrates some of the cultural differences pretty well. I could give a dozen times dozen more examples, but I don't have time. Unfortunately, this is all for this time. I'm in Accra, waiting for the bus to take me to Tamale, in the northern part of the country, where I will spend the weekend. We need to go now to get on the bus so I will write more next week. I'm still doing well, and I still enjoy your comments so keep it up!

fredag 1. april 2011

It's nice to be nice and there is no hurry in life

This is written on the outside wall outside my room here and in short it seems to sum up the Ghanaien attitude pretty well. I have now lived with my host family in the village of Akim Akroso for two weeks and there is a hundred things I want to write about! However, this keyboard is so stiff and makes typing very slow and it about drives me crazy.

I don't know where to start, but I guess I could start telling a little about my and Anna's host family. The family relations are very complicated, it took me and Anna more than a week to figure out who is biologically related with who. Our host dad Isaac is 72 years old, has two wifes, and has, as his grandson told us, "too many children too be counted!" He is extraordinary healthy for being 72 years and he seems to always be in a good mood. Our host mom Emma is very nice, and her children are Akos (21), Saakwa (18) and Kofi (15). Also, Isaac(18), our host dad's grand son, are living here because his mom died in December, and there is a girl whose name I can't spell, who also lives with the family even though she is not related to any of the others. There are several people renting in the compound house that we are living in, so all together there is more than 15 people sharing the same yard. When I write "house" you must not mistake it with a western idea of house. None of the room are connected with each others, and there is no real kitchen. All the food is cooked outside on a coal pot. They mash certain vegetables with a Big stick, and sweep the floors with a bundle of straw. And in the middle of this Kofi's cell phone rings and Sean Kingston is to be heard! It's awesome!

When it comes to my work place, it is really important to bring a sense of humour, because the public education on the countryside is extreemely frustrating. It really makes me think it is no wonder that Africa hasn't developed any more than it has. There are approximately 45 students in each class, no electricity, no real walls, and the teachers are only being payed occasionally by the government. The teacher that I'm working with, Dorothy (24), years, has not been payed since she started in September and she is starving. She is super skinny, and you can tell by the colour of what should be the white in her eyes, that she is not getting the nutrition she needs to stay healthy. She spends four hours a day making plantain chips that she sells to the students and she say the profit is 1-2 cedi a day, which allows her to eat one meal a day. And despite of that, she is inviting me to eat of her food! In Ghana they always say : You'r invited! The first time I asked "where?", but it means they want to share their food with you.
Before I went here, I hoped that the Ghanaian students were better disciplined than in Norway, but except for in a few ways, they are not at all! And they have no understanding of the word privacy! They gather themselves around me, maybe 15 kids, and stand two inches away from my face, touching my skin and my hair. And it's not that I don't like children (then I would kinda have been in the place), but at times it's about to drive me nuts. However, the hardest part is that even though english is the offical language they hardly understand anything. I'm helping teach in fourth grade, and all the subject except for Ghanaian language are to be taught in English. So try to explain to 35 students (there are always many students absent) that don't eat during the school day, in 35 degrees heat, about the solar system and satelites when 95% of them don't even understand words like Think and Pillow. Yes, it is certainly a test of patience. However, the best part is that the government has descided that everyone needs to learn ICT. I can't remember fully what it stands for, but it is ........ Computer Technology. It would be a very good idea if it weren't for the fact that the primary school doesn't have a single computer and I bet none of the students have one at home. Because if their parents could afford a computer I'm sure they would also send their children to a private school. There are very many Christian privat schools here. So anyway, I'm teaching the kids how to clean the computer. Their exercise in their book goes like this: Which of these can you use to clean your computer: Broom? Incorrect. Bucket of water? Incorrect. Duster? Correct.
However, some of it is stuff that I don't even know!

I'm sure many of you are curious about the food and eating habits here. The food that Anna and me is being served is for the most part good, some of it very good, but it is much of the same. A lot of rice, 90% of the time some sort of tomato sauce with vegetables, and we always gets fruit for desert. Either bananas, pineapples or oranges. A few times we have gotten small pieces of fish, and one time a sort of meat I don't even know what was, but except for that we don't get meat. I'm really missing that! When it comes to the amount, we get BIG portions, but I am often hungry because I eat basically three times a day, and I'm used to eat six times.... But thinking of my teacher friend, who only eats once a day, it would be foolish to feel sorry for myself! We eat breakfast at seven, and goes home for lunch to eat around 12.30 and then dinner around 4-5. Half of the days our lunch is a bowl of fruits, it is very good, but it doesn't exactly calm our appetite.

All in all, I'm doing well here. I will write more in a week or two. The internet speed here is killing me, so I will not respond to the comments in the comment thread, but I really appreciate the comments and greetings! It is very nice to hear from you!

Au revoir!

onsdag 16. mars 2011

The first days in Ghana

Soooooo, I am in Ghana!!!! And so far I absolutely love it!

When I first walked off the plane, I was hit by the HOT and humid air, and I thought for myself, this is like Oklahoma! But that is also as far as the resemblance goes! Last time I visited there was nobody carrying stack of fabrics on their heads, or offering me water, fruits, toilet paper or DVDs when I was stuck in the traffic jam. You can almost buy everything you need through the window at the tro-tro. a kind of minibus, it is so handy!

I have stayed in Accra at a hostel for volunteers these first days to have my orientation, and tomorrow I am leaving for AkimAkroso. Last week they were nine volunteers at the orientation, but I have been the only one this week! It was a little disappointing, but it has been fine, the other people at the hostel are very nice. The first morning I woke up around 6 am. by the sounds of goats, chickens and people singing and clapping their hands. A recommended way to wake up!

Today, while walking to a store to buy my mosquito net, a little boy run, stumbled and fell. He looked a little grumpy for a second, but when he saw me, he exulted OBRUNI, jumped to his feet. and before his mother could stop him, ran and hugged my legs! He was so incredible cute! Obruni is a slang for a fair skinned person.

I do not have time to write anything more now, but I can assure everybody that I feel very safe here! So far, I do not think the traffic is as bad as I heard, and I do not think Accra have any more crime than big European cities.

I will update in maybe 2-3 weeks, depending on when I next time go to a city.

I hope everyone is doing good! Bye!

torsdag 3. mars 2011

Briefly introducing my soon-to-be residence, job and host family

Countdown: 10 days to go!

I'm starting to become very excited, while at the other hand it hasn't really dawned on me yet... I'm going to live in an African village, living with people I havn't even seen a picture of! Going to Oklahoma was a little of the same, but even though I found it interesting they still pay their bills with checks, they were modern! They had oatmeal porridge, internet connection and air-condition!

Like I mentioned last time, I will be living in a village named Akim Akroso. It seems to be too small to show up at any map, but I know it is located in the eastern region, and I think it's not to far from the capital Accra. The nearest major towns are Swedru and Oda, about 25km away, which is where I need to go to find an internet café to update my blog. And to look for notifications on my facebook profile... right!


I'm gonna be working at Akroso Presbyterian Pre/Primary School. It is a poor school. Here is most of what my information form says about it:
"Akroso is a big village in the Eastern Region of Ghana.The people in the town are mostly farmers.TheAkroso PRESBYTERIAN SCHOOLS is situated in the middle  of the village .There are all together about a 100 children with the boys outnumbering the girls.There are 6 members of staff.The school was founded by the Presbyterian church but it has been taken over by the government.The Pre-School division has about 80 children."

I've also received information about my living arrangements and I am very excited about it! I will be living together with another volunteer from Sweden in a local host family. I don't even know whether it's a girl or a boy. And I don't quite get the family structure. There is one older man, two middel aged women, and five kids age 12-21, two boys and three girls. Including me and the Swedish volunteer we will be ten people living underneath one roof! At least it won't be a problem to figure out who is gonna shower first in the morning, because there isn't any. The form says I will do a bucket bath! The toilet is a pit. However, rumour has it many women in Ghana don't wear underwear, they just squat down and pull up their dresses when they need to release the pressure some. (In that case I might be a little reluctant toward complete cultural adaption...) Well, I will get to find out whether there is substance to the rumours or not. I'll let you know.

Come back later for more updates!

=)

fredag 25. februar 2011

New blog!

Okay, so since my last blog turned out to be such a huge sucess(...), I am now happy to release "Karoline experience the world"-blog Part 2. As before, you can expect frequent updates consisting of detailed resumes of what I'm up to, and tons of picture! (For those who did never read my previous blog, that is sarcasm. ;)

Anyway, so there will be no room for confusement, I'm going to Ghana!!!!! (Read about Ghana here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghana). Really, just how awesome isn't that?? I've already got to be an exchange student in the U.S., an experience that I would never have been without, and in addition to that I also get to travel, work and live in Ghana! Wow, I really got things working out nicely for me!

I'm leaving the 13th of March, and I will live three months in a village named Akim Akroso, located southeast in Ghana.

Read more in my next entry!

Mah-Krow!
(For those of you who do not understand twi: Mah-Krow = good-bye :)