Monday, September 13, 2010

Bye Bye Ghana

I might do a few more blogs talking about adjusting to real world, which will probably be harder than adjusting to here, but this will be my last entry from Ghana.

Last week our COS conference was extremely fun. We’re the only group left that came in with under 70 and our group got really close after two years together. The conference was about reintegration into the States and all the paperwork that we have to do so it shouldn’t have been too exciting but it flew by. We did “Fufu Awards” between each section (ex. Most likely to bring Kente clothe to Broadway-me, Most likely to require a nap while walking to his car-our boss). 97% weren’t politically correct enough to quote here but they were hilarious.

The resort was gorgeous (Will Smith and lots of other celebs have stayed there), the food was so good, and the company was perfect. The last day the environment volunteers gave out a cutlass award to each of the 3 sectors to signify hard work and accomplishments. Hannah Frank won Health and Water Sanitation, Sam Frankel won Environment, and in a favorite moment of PC I got the cutlass for Small Enterprise Development. Kris Laurie, one of my closest friends during training, gave the speech. The level of respect that I hold him in really added to the meaning of what was said.

20 of us headed to the remote beach for the weekend to delay our goodbyes. A good amount have even came all the way to Accra to see Marcus and I off. We have a week full of paperwork, medical stuff, and last minute arrangements until we fly out Thursday night for Munich and Oktoberfest! From there we are going to Fussen in the Alps, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. I should be home October 10th.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bye Bye Kpetoe

Leaving America was hard because 2 years seemed so long. Leaving Kpetoe was rough because I’ll probably never see most of these guys again. Despite that it couldn’t have gone much better.

It was our Kente Festival this weekend so everyone was around and the town was crowded. Lots of PCVs and even the Country Director came. So basically all my Kpetoe friends were there, most my closest PC friends were there, and there was a huge festival going on. I got to say individual goodbyes to Michael, Bright, Joshua, Lawrence, Mr. Agba and Suzzy. It wasn’t easy but the fact that the last 2 years have been a blast really helped.

Tomorrow I leave Ho and our whole group that came in 2008 gets together for our Close of Service conference. 34 of our original 42 will be there and 2 of those missing will finish their service but can’t make it. We are a great group with lots of personality so it will be a fun few days together.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Master WEaver Ceremony

My PC Boss

Mukaila and me. He's the big man in town that's always been there for me

Going into our newly opened visitors' centre!

All Powdered

Beza, Julie, Steve, and Chrissa came.Ceremonies here are not exactly fun so this really meant a ton to me

The traditional rulers of the Agotime Area

Don't mess w/the Queen Mothers

My boss from PC even gave a speech

Mr. Agba, who calls me his son, powdering me as part of the ceremon

The entire Agotime Tourism Management Team

All the weavers of the shed. One of my favorite pictures because thses are the guys who I spent the most time with.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Master Weaverfied

(Big Sister will add the pictures later that would take me hours)

Yesterday was one significant day for me. We opened the visitors’ centre with a big ceremony. This centre was the end product of all of our work. Basically everyone I’ve worked with over the last 2 years was there as well as some big men and women (including a member of Parliament, our District Chief Executive, and all the chiefs and queen mothers) and the place looked great. When they were introducing the Tourism management team I was called last and then pulled aside to get dressed to become a master kente weaver. We’re mostly certain I’m the first Caucasian one ever.

Mr. Agba, who has taken me out for 100s of Guinness’ and calls me his son, actually performed the ritual which included getting powdered. Julie wouldn’t have missed it even if I begged her probably and Steve, also from our PC group, came and took great pictures. My replacement and even my PC boss came. Having these friends there with all my site buds was all I could ask for.

Here’s a summary my boss had me write up:

My apprenticeship lasted around 18 months. For the great price of 30 Cedi ($20) and a bottle of booze I purchased the services of 2 master weavers, Bright and Joshua. Now they are best friends. They taught me everything from buying threads, setting the warp, spinning the threads, threading the pulleys, and the actual weaving. Who knows how many hours they spend fixing my mistakes.
My first pattern was a plain warp weave meaning just the background showed through. My second pattern was a plain weft weave meaning just the colors in the shuttle showed through. From there we continued to increase the difficulty. I excelled at motifs and tricky patterns earning the nickname of “the designer” but am definitely still extremely lacking in the speed department. Currently I can do one women’s strip in a day. When I told them I wanted to be the first white person to weave a patterned men’s cloth they probably doubted it but they let me try it. They told me if I finished it’d I’d could be a master weaver. I know it took a lot of their time but I never could have finished without their help.
A master weaver can see about any pattern and know how to do it completely. They are also allowed to take on an apprentice.

It shows that I’m pretty proud but many titles given are honorary, I actually earned this.

Today when I was weaving it was all congratulations from the guys. The oldest weaver in the shed came up to me and gave me a real hug, unheard of here, and told me tons of way too nice of things. Then he gave me a strip with one of my favorite traditional patterns. He said he didn’t have much but he wanted to give me this. How am I supposed to say bye to these guys?

This post could go on for days so I best stop it here with 2 good articles about Technology and how it’s changing Peace Corps and Readjusting back into life in the States after an experience like Peace Corps.

The picture of us from Obama actually made the NPR website too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Last Tour

Cute kid waiting for us to start painting that day

PC Logo that took me quite a long time.
Showing the kid where the shirt is from.

Last weekend the World Map Project was lots of fun. I basically spent most of my time helping with the grids and then painting the Peace Corps logo but it’s done now. Jake and I decided that the World Map Project is cool but the Midwest Map Project would be even better and want to get that started. He's from Wisconsin. On the way to and from the site of the project I stayed in our bunk house in Kumasi with Marcus (who’s going to Europe with me) and Mikey who was my roomie through training. With all the new PCVs sometimes it’s just nice to hang out with people you really know.

Today I gave my last kente tour. It’s Chrissa’s site now but Marian of Alan & Marian (our couple that has done PC a few times) had most of her 1965-67 Peace Corps Morocco group visiting. This called for the veteran tour guide. Showing them around was lots of fun because they had tons of questions and really took their time appreciating the weaving (and spent a ton). Talking to them about their PC experience verses ours was very interesting. I was texting and calling in the tro to coordinate things and they made 1 call home over 2 years. At the same time they said that the sanitary, food, and infrastructure situations here are worse than they were in Morocco then. The tro we were using did get stuck in a rut but it was right by the welders that helped me with the basketball court so all worked out.

The small world connections keep coming my way as one of the ladies is a good friend from high school, Katie Guerriero’s aunt. It was crazy to talk to someone who knows Katie even better than I do while being in Africa.

The best part of the day was easily seeing all the weavers, especially Bright and Joshua, and above all Michael, my neighbor boy. He’d been constantly asking Chrissa when I’d be coming back. I’ll only get to see him a few more times so I gave them my contact stuff in the States.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


PC celebrates 50 years next year and we need a logo; here's the one I designed with help from Tony and Julie

The rest of my service will be so different. I will always be with at least 1 other American and most the time I can walk to an internet cafĂ©. So far it’s been a complete blast but I do miss my alone time and Kpetoe.

The new group had their swearing in ceremony which was followed by a large gathering of new and current volunteers. This was the last time I’ll see anyone outside of the group I came with probably. I remember being the new volunteer so well and now we’re the ones going home. All my journals from my 1st year were handwritten causing me to type them so I don’t have to drag the notebook across Europe. I can’t believe how much my thoughts have changed. At the same time the things that have remained the same (especially the support from home and friends here) say equally as much if not more.

After Swearing In, I had a meeting down on Keta Lagoon. We took the most disgusting, sinking, and fun canoe ride of my life after a great meeting. The years of rowing probably kept us from completely tipping and the other canoe definitely had more issues. Now I’m at Julie’s playing catch up from 2 years with limited internet and commuting out to Kpetoe to show friends around, weave, or hang out with my buds there.

My replacement has moved into the bungalow and has started to make it much more feminine; I don’t plan on going in it again since it’d be so weird but the change is definitely for the better. It’s very hard to let go of the project but it’s in good hands and will continue to grow. Our ecotourism project even made national news with like a 5 minutes segment. I still have like 6 full days of weaving and master weaver ceremony along with Kente Festival in Kpetoe before I leave.

This weekend I head to the middle of the country to paint a world map on the side of a school at a friend’s site. It’s a very popular PC project that I haven’t done yet so I’m excited. It’s very valuable to show the kids where Ghana is and how it fits into the world. “Oh, Ghana is very small small” is a popular 1st response.

Being around so many PCVs lately hopefully will help get my social skills back. I even went on a date this week which was really fun. 29 days left in Ghana.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Movin' Out

Packing doesn’t sound like fun so I continue to put that off. Instead I’ve been devoting most of my time to weaving. My best friends are in the 2 looms next to me so it’s what I want to do. I’ve almost finished 2 strips on the 11 for the women’s cloth I’m weaving for a PCV friend. She came and picked out the pattern and colors which is cool because I get to learn new techniques and very uncool because of the colors. My men’s cloth was blue, black, grey, and white. That’s a men’s cloth for sure. Cynthia’s women’s cloth is pink, purple, blue, white, and cream. I have to make it very clear to visitors that I did not have any say in the colors.

I’m finally to a point were I’m getting decent at weaving. Almost any pattern is doable and my speed is getting up there. In a day I can weave a high quality tough pattern strip. It took me 2 years to get to here and now I’m leaving which is frustrating.

I’ll move out of the bungalow on Wednesday and have meetings for the rest of the week then I’ll be mostly staying with Julie in Ho. I’ll have a lot more internet access and more importantly time to spend with Julie. She and I are pretty opposite but as the only PCVs remotely close to each other we’ve become extremely close, like other PCVs mock us about it. I know I wouldn’t have made it without her and I’m glad my last month here will be with her. With our other 2 best friends Alison and Andrea back in Canada and Tennessee (both locations almost too easy to mock) already it’s starting to feel like it’s time to get going.
1st strip of Cynthia's pattern
Chessboard and bag I made for another PCV outta the leftovers of my men's cloth.

Haven't posted random pictures of the kids on the neighborhood lately....
We had Fafa act like she used to when she saw me.
That's more like it