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Post written by Gretel Schatz:

Heading east - Today the group left Accra and headed to Kopeyia where we will spend five days drumming, art making, and dancing in a rural Village in The Volta Region. When asked to share a new experience, sight, sound, idea or feeling they encountered today, the students responded with the following quick list:

coconut trees  
pineapple plants 
a stand up toilet at a gas station, that was more like an outhouse 
rustic urinals 
people carrying huge things on their heads
my first ever forex (currency exchange)
bargaining 
friendly people 
cassava/agbeli
dancing 
drumming 
babies wrapped to women's backs while mom is: walking, working, selling food, dancing, cooking, riding a motorbike! 
seeing homes made of mud and straw 
seeing homes in varied states of construction 
outdoor kitchens 
women and girls getting water at a well
trying to carry water on my head  
little kids
libation ceremony
goats everywhere
barefoot kids 
a goat in a tree
really divided gender roles 

Ben VanWinkle '20 describes our morning journey: 

"Today we left the coconut grove hotel for the Dagbe Cultural Center in the Volta region. The bus ride to the center took about 4 hours and was pretty eye opening for the parts that I was awake for. It was interesting to watch the city of Accra slowly fade into a rural area. I fell asleep at one point and when I woke up the tall buildings were no longer there. The houses and businesses were shorter, more basic, with some made out of clay and straw. I also noticed how peoples' dress changed as we traveled east. There was more American style clothing in Accra, such as men in suits. As we got closer to Dagbe, I noticed more traditional clothing with brightly colored patterns mixed with clothes with name brands on them."


Bathroom stop on the way to Dagbe

When we arrived at Dagbe, before we even stepped off of the bus we could hear singing and drumming. We were greeted by the Dagbe staff and then after some delicious lunch and settling in, we attended a libation ceremony, where we were officially welcomed. After pouring libations (we did the under 21 version) we went on a tour of the village. 
Libation ceremony and dancing Agbadza (sp)



 
Eliza Voorheis '21 shares:
"Today after we got settled we took a tour through Kopeyia, the village Dagbe is in. We left during the perfect time of day, so when we were walking around it was right during sunset. Everything seemed so surreal it was like a scene from a movie. The blue of the houses, orange of the sky, cool breeze, sounds of drumming in the background, everything was so blissful."

Touring Kopeyia




The village water source

On the tour we got to see houses where community members live, situated in family compounds. while walking we heard singing and drumming and when we went through the village center there was a gathering of many people. Our tour guides, Mensah, Jackson and Godsway explained to us that a village resident's in-law had died and the gathering was to recognize this in advance of the funeral. 
Gathering in the village
Today was very full day that left us with much to process. 

Shameek Hargrave '20 leaves us with this reflection: 
"I can tell that some of the Ghanaians look at me and wonder where is this kid really from? (Almost as if my answer of the USA isn’t enough.) I wonder if they think about my privilege. What I find most interesting is how we seem to envy each other. I am jealous of the command and pride they have for and about their culture because I have struggled to acknowledge or learn of my own. But they see my access to fresh water on demand, electricity, and modern technologies and wonder why, if we look so similar, if our hair is practically the same, why do I have access to these things and they do not. In my own head I silently wonder which of us has it better. The one who retains his culture, his dance, the company of his true people; or me, the one who has access to all the privileges of the Western world, even when confronted with those who do not and in some cases, never will. It is an especially challenging thought because the price of my privilege has been paid by the enslavement of our shared ancestors. So why am I the one with such privilege? How do I remain conscious of this, but not allow it to govern the perspective with which I approach this experience?"

Tomorrow: Dance and drumming classes, batik lessons and a trip to Denu Market. 

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for the posts. Amazing!

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  2. Your observations have painted a vivid and powerful picture of your travels. Thanks for giving me a “bird’s eye” view as well as your insight into the “cultural divide” between Ghana and the US.

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  3. Wonderful to see all of you jump right in! Looking forward to more blog posts!

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  4. These are very powerful images, words and reflections. Thank you everyone.

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