Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A PCV that just left told me it's great to get guests from home cause they take lots of pictures of stuff you wouldn't at your site. It's true, here are a few(she took like 500) of Meg Hub's pictures. (used completely w/o her expressed written consent)

I just had lunch of Peanut Butter M&Ms, canned peaches, and Pringles. Afternoon snack might be Cinnamon Toast Crunch, does life get any better?
The last few weeks have been very refreshing. The night before Meg flew in Amber and I went to see the new Harry Potter at the only theatre in Ghana. If you don’t know I’m that jock that loves musicals and Harry Potter (and still somehow has cool friends). A year alone in a village is great but you forget certain things, like how it is to laugh for real. Amber and I are very different people and we hadn’t seen each other in 2 months but during one funny scene we started laughing and just couldn’t stop, like heads on each others shoulders cracking up. My description really doesn’t do it justice but I’ll never forget how good it felt to laugh that hard.
Having a friend from home was awesome but it was also just great to have someone to talk to. Like 90% of my thoughts never leave my head here, I used to never shut up. I can tell people what it’s like here but it’s cool that someone knows. We talked about how it is here vs. back home and old friends. I don’t get to do that. Meg’s parents also covered EVERY travel expense which let us do some really cool stuff. Most of our meals would’ve cost me over a day’s salary. Very interesting to see how I’ve adjusted to things here. Also amazing is the real food I have now! It’d been months since I’d picked up packages and Meg brought suitcases (one packed expertly by my mother) full of stuff for the kids and I. So many volunteers have already benefited from the goods. Thanks to everyone.
Site is still busy but that’s a good thing. Might not break last month’s attendance record (59) this month (45 so far) but we’ve already sold more. The rubbish bins are up, being used, and emptied. We are starting to work on a tour, pricing of the tour, placement for billboards, and the location of our visitors centre, all very big projects. Also our annual Kente Festival begins on Sunday. Speed weaving competitions, street jamborees, Ms. Kente Pageant, and the VP of Ghana at the closing ceremonies, you know you want to come! We had our press conference last weekend and I’ve been using the projects that the GVSU International Marketing Class sent me to advertise.
Perhaps the biggest thing that I’ve been part of happened just yesterday. There is one guidebook that almost every tourist/volunteer in Ghana uses, Bradt, I have 2 actually. Like we live and breathe by this guide. My supervisor called and said they’d be coming last Monday. They came a week late but it was still huge.
I didn’t warn my weavers because our strengths are our quality, prices, and laid back..ness. Turns out our prices were almost half of their last kente village and if you’ve seen pictures you know the quality is there. After visiting one of the guesthouses they mentioned they hadn’t had breakfast so I offered them some. Talk about pressure cooking! I don’t cook much well but luckily what I do I do well. My bacon, egg, and Laughing Cow (“cheese”) sandwich is the best this side of the Volta. Mostly it’s because it’s the only one with bacon. Between that, M&Ms, and cashews they were extremely happy. I used packages to brown nose guidebook writers but I don’t feel bad about it at all. As they were leaving I asked if they could put the TV hut in the next edition and she wrote down their info, if they make it I will freak out. Our shopkeepers were amazing and I’d say we got a great write-up. The most important thing I’ve done here for my project only took 3 hours.
I continue to be awed by the support from home. Letters, occasional texts/calls, and packages are extremely generous and appreciated. My relatives and friends do more and even more for me. I’ll miss a name if I list them so I’ll just say relatives got together and held a garage sale for the basketball court. They spent days prepping and had a great sale raising somewhere around $1,000. All I could say to my mom when she told me was “awesome, simply awesome.” If you look at any successes I’ve had here you can tie them directly back to someone back home, speaks volumes about the quality of people in the States.
I should have written tons more about Meg’s visit and the garage sale but then this entry would never end so I’ll just say…

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Canopy Walk at Kakum National Park

View of Cape Coast Castle from the Governor's bedroom.
I figure people might want to hear another opinion on Ghana. Megan is fresh from the States and apparently I’ve become numb to a lot of what I do because she thinks some of it’s crazy. So here are Meg’s thoughts on Ghana:

After being here for almost a week and a half, I think that Ghana is indescribable. No matter how you try you will not do it enough justice and it can vary so much from village to city. You can go from a big city with a mall, movie theater and amazing American food, to villages with mud huts and no running water or electricity and everything in between. Pictures cannot capture its beautiful landscapes and amazing sites.
The most remarkable historical building we visited was the Cape Coast Castle. Obama visited here a few weeks ago. The architecture there was unbelievably beautiful, but the story behind it is heartbreaking. This fort was built in the 1600’s and played a major role in the slave trade industry. People that were captured for slavery were sent into the slave dungeons for three months before passing through the Door of No Return. After touring this building I was almost speechless. It is hard to believe that what happened in that building was allowed to occur!
While we were in Ghana’s Eastern and Central regions we visited a waterfall and Kakum Nation Forest. The hike to the waterfall took a little more than an hour. We stopped many times to take in the sites and the small villages along the way to the top. As we were getting near we could hear the water flowing down the falls. The water rushing down and the mist in the air was an incredible! While at Kakum National Forest we went on the Canopy Walk. It is a boardwalk that is suspended above the canopy level of the forest about 100 feet up. The boardwalk was made from rope and ladders with wooden boards to walk on. Once again the view was marvelous!
Ghana is not only filled with amazing sites, but also wonderful people! The kids are kind and love to play and learn sports. Everybody is incredibly welcoming! They even call to check in on Dan when he is away, just because they haven’t talked in a few days.
Ghanaians love President Obama! All over the country there are signs with President Obama and President Mills. Michelle Obama is even on a few! At market you can purchase Obama t-shirts. You can even get into a cab and hear a song written about Obama. Today the neighborhood kids sang the song and translated it for me! Hopefully this song will make it out to the United States!
But Ghanaians love football (soccer) more than anything in the world! The kids love to play it and everybody talks about it. We watched the Manchester vs. Chelsea pre-season football game in the TV hut last week. The hut was packed and incredibly hot! The excitement in the room was incredible! Dan and I wanted to leave early, but were forbidden because of the excitement. After regulation it was a 2-2 tie, Chelsea won in a shoot out. There were so many cheers and high fives in the room. Remember, this is a pre-season game! I have never seen anything like this in the States. The closest thing to compare it to was the Stanley Cup Finals. In the States we have so many different sporting events/teams that we can chose from that it almost takes way from the excitement of watching games or following teams.
Over the course of my visit I have gotten the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people, see beautiful sites and learn a new way of life. The biggest thing I have learned from this experience is don’t ever set your mind on anything- you need to be flexible! You cannot just walk into a gas station and grab a Nutra-grain Bar or Snickers bar. You can’t even be upset if the water goes out at the hotel you are staying at. There is nothing you can do to get it back on and complaining about it really isn’t going to help!

Quote: I was walking to the garbage to throw out a mushy banana. Michael says, “Ahh, let me feed that to my goat.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My new pattern. They named it "Obama"

Harry Potter marathon, Day 3

My last pattern, Bright said no one's ever made a chess board out of kente before.

Joshua's new bags (think all in this picture have sold already)

We set another record in July with 59 guests and are off to a good start in August with 16 already. Joshua designed new small bags after I describe some to him. They’re not what I described at all but they’re selling. With this many tourists we haven’t had the time to make stationery lately and we’re down to 5 cards left at the centre. My friend Megan from GVSU is coming to visit for 2 weeks on Saturday and she said she’d be glad to help make stationery.
Having my first visitor from the states is exciting. It’ll be great to see what a friend fresh from home thinks of it here. So far I can only tell people what it’s like, now someone will actually know which is cool. One of Megan’s suitcases will be devoted to me/PCV’s/Kpetoe coming here and to family on the way back which is also very cool. It’s gonna be like Christmas. Also we’re going to spend a few of the days doing touristy stuff that I haven’t even done yet like visiting slave forts, Kukum National Park, and at least a night at Green Turtle Lodge, the ultimate tropical lodge, http://greenturtlelodge.com/
I asked one of my marketing profs from GV to put me in contact with the international marketing prof because I thought they might enjoy working on a project that is real and marketing isn’t my thing. Over 25 nationalities have visited Kpetoe in my time, that’s pretty international. I just got her summer classes’ final projects which were promoting our Kente Festival (Sept 30-Aug 5) and wow. There are some great posters, brochures, logos, tour group contact information, and the likes. She said that they really enjoyed doing it and she would love to have her winter semester promote kente in Kpetoe in general. Also my friend Jacquelyn, who is a graphic designer, is going to redo our brochures so it doesn’t look like a 5-year-old made them (me) and NCRC might sponsor them in their next budget in October.
I wasn’t even there but I laughed when Julie and Andrea told me about a team building meeting their NGO had. They split into groups and had to say what item they’d take if deserted on an island. The first Ghanaian said “Bible” and instantly another Ghanaian said “I was going to say that!” and snapped her fingers. The next person said “prayer” because bible was taken. Then it came to the other bible lady. She just couldn’t bring herself to bring anything else so she also said bible. So the group ended up taking 2 bibles, prayer, and a pocket knife (volunteer’s choice). The CEO of the NGO said, “Zat group doesn’t have a prayer.” (she’s French)
Basketball Court is up to $1,500, awesome!
I've tried to post this for weeks, hope it worked!