June 2007

hey yall…so i am getting requests that yall back home want to send the kids something, or help them in some way.  well, we planted some trees a few weeks ago.  we planted 23 trees at the primary school…i got pictures of the kids up on my flickr account, so check them out.  we measured them and will measure them again at the end of the term in late july.  the kids with the tree that has grown the most will win a prize.  the children whose trees are still alive will get a lesser prize.  so if yall want to finance these prizes, it would be a great way to provide aid to these children.  i will buy them notebooks and pencils and such…so send word if you want to help and i’ll give you details.  i only need one or two sponsors, so it is first come first serve.  thanks for the support and i’ll look forward to hearing from yall…much love.


Once again…sorry I have taken so long to write on here.  I wonder if I have lost some of yall’s interest by now?  Anyway, I was thinking the other day, trying to conceptualize this experience…not to name it or anything, because defining it doesn’t change what it has been or will be to me.  But something of it was starting to feel familiar and I wanted to reflect on what it could be.  It was the phases of integrating into this that felt familiar to me, like I had done it before.  So I put it to this…I remembered those days when I was at Tuckahoe Middle School and how my friends and I use to skate at Freeman (the high school that we would soon go to).  We would also shoot bball, vandalize, hid on the roof from staff, and go to football games there on Fridays.  It was this majestic place of which we had only a certain level of understanding.  We had yet to be exposed to the inner workings of this institution.  That, in some ways, has been what my first 6 months or so have been here.  Anyone who has traveled or tried to establish a new home somewhere may be able to relate to this…for this is how it was for me.  Ghana was majestic…I arrived, and was taken back by everything…I could barely gather the breath to express what I was seeing…in fact, I couldn’t.  Then it started to settle and I started being exposed to what Ghana is.  But for the first six months, 2 of which were in training and 4 at my site,  I didn’t really see myself as a member of this community…I would tell Ghanaians I was, and myself I was, but I didn’t feel it.  Around 6 or 7 months, that is when I became a resident…not just a visitor.  Just like when I traversed the bridge between outsider and student of Freeman…I have made the transition similarly in my community here in the Upper East of Ghana. I now have opinions about many things in my community, that I can share with them, just as they share with one another. We talk about farming and how we want to rain so we may be able to plant. We talk about how the political process of electing the new paramount chief for our area. I have been living as they have for a while now, and it is making me see as they see.
I was looking at a billboard in my district the other day while in a tro tro and remembered seeing that same image when I was in a tro tro, fresh off the plane from the States. It sent me back to looking at this place as Africa…”Holly shit, I’m in Africa.” Africa in this thought, is just that, a thought, not the materialized place I now know…or the tinny pinpoint of it that I have come to know. These happens fewer and fewer times…I am begining to forget what I perceived this place “would” be and am living in what it “is.” These “Holly shit” moments only last for a few seconds. They might be brought on by the cow or goat that wonders through the bar while having a beer. Perhaps a little grass structure where a man lives during the rainy season so he can be closer to his farm and get in those extra minutes it would take to walk down the mountain will trigger the memory. Whatever triggers it, it fades, but I am still here, growing my understand of this place and self.