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The last few days have been filled with more dancing, drumming, and singing.  We completed Gahu and then moved on to Tokoe . Tomorrow we will perform Gahu as dancers and as percussionists and we will also perform the dance portion of Tokoe.

Natalie Foster ’20 has been enjoying her experience:

“We woke up this morning and danced from 9-11 a.m. I don’t think I‘ve ever sweat so much.  It was fantastic.”

In addition to preparing for our performance, we have engaged in a number of local, cultural, and craft activities over the past few days, which the students describe below.

Day 4

Annika Voorheis ’20 described some of this day’s activities:

“Today we danced in the morning.  We finished learning Gahu, which is so exciting.  Then they gave us coconuts where we drank the water, opened it and then ate the inside.  We then moved to the wax cloth [Batik] making.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out.”

Enjoying our fresh coconuts!  A reward after a hard morning’s work learning Gahu!

Students learning Batik making

Later that afternoon, we had the unique opportunity to attend a traditional Ghanaian funeral.  Annika Voorheis '20 continued to describe the experience.

“We [put on] special wrap skirts and left for the funeral.  There were so many people [there] and they invited me to dance.  We had learned the dance ahead of time so I had fun with it. “
Our group dressed to attend the local funeral

Dancing at the funeral
Day 5

On this day we learned basket weaving and later in the day, visited a local village to learn about the Kopeyia Water Access Project and hear from a local storyteller.

Natalie Foster describes our visit to learn about the Kopeyia Water Access Project:

“In the afternoon we went to [visit] a well in another village.   The reason we went is because Jeremy [NMH’s program provider in Ghana] is part of a group that is trying to bring clean water to the village.  That was a really different experience as we came with our big water bottles and they [the villagers] were still trying to get clean water.”

Learning about the Kopeyia area well water project

Julia (Chujun) Zhao described our experience listening to a local storyteller:

“ Tonight we had an amazing traditional African storytelling [event].  Community is usually gathered together by bonfire and an old wise man tells stories that teach morals to people...Fortunately a grandpa was invited and came to Dagbe to teach us life lessons…The story telling happened [outdoors] completely in the dark…which created a mysterious enthralling environment.  Grandpa sat by the fire (so we couldn’t see his face) with a pipe in his mouth.  The process was accompanied by drumming and dancing (interchanging with bits of stories), and grandpa danced with everyone.  The whole thing looked almost spiritual.”

Day 6

Today we visited a local school that was started by Godwin Agbeli, who was also the founder of the Dagbe Cultural Institute. 

Natalie Foster ’20 described the school that we visited:

“Today we headed to the school across the street.  Mensah teaches kindergarten there when he isn’t teaching at Dagbe.  It was really hot out today and I felt the sweat start to drip down my forehead as we walked across the grassy field to the long bungalow style classroom and buildings.  They were yellowy-tan and had open windows and doors.  As we walked by each room, the kinds all peered at us.  They were sitting at old wood desks facing a dusty blackboard.  The boards were covered with arithmetic, learning now to shut down computer, and how to use utensils.  It was an awesome experience.  The little kids waved and smiled.  They wore brown and yellow uniforms.  The classrooms are mastery based, not age based.   They had a canteen outside where the kids buy their food.  It was really different than school in America.  The school was K-9.”

Students walking towards the school house

Anna Martin ’18 commented on her observations about the curriculum:

“Looking into the classrooms it was so interesting to see what each class was learning. When we checked out a math class I saw the ninth grade learning about sets which I had just learned about this past year; it was so cool that even younger kids were learning the same things at a younger age than we learn at our boarding school.”