by Sierra Stewart
Hi, my name is Sierra Stewart. I am from Tacoma, Washington and I am currently a junior majoring in Sociocultural Anthropology. This trip is such a blessing for me as an African American. Not only having the opportunity to go to an entirely different country, but to take a hold of some history of African-Americans that is not taught well in the classrooms or in textbooks. So many times in America the conception is that black history began in slavery when it in fact didn’t. Also, I am not used to seeing great media representations of people in Africa, but I know that it cannot be all bad and I want to experience it for myself. I am also very excited about all of the people that I am on the trip with – some familiar faces and some new faces. However, I am excited to strengthen bonds and create new ones.
Getting off of the plane, everything was so unreal. One of the first things that I noticed coming out of the airport was definitely the weather change. Being from Washington, I can definitely appreciate the sun, but the humidity I knew would take some getting used to. Although it has only been two days it feels like months already. On the long ride here it was a major culture shocker. Seeing the people and billboards that were full of black people was amazing and definitely something that I am not used to seeing. Another interesting thing was the street vendors – as we were driving through the villages people would approach the vehicle we were in selling everything from food, to batteries, to flip flops.
Once we arrived at Kokrobitey we were greeted with so much hospitality. Even walking through Kokrobitey Institute the people were just as friendly and I feel that it reflects the culture and community of people just from those interactions. So far, we have been able to walk along the beach, and go on a canoe ride which I admit was so scary for me, but in the midst of it was just beautiful to be in the moment and observe how beautiful the nature around me was. Also, getting a chance to see how many people live in such simplicity was remarkable. It made me think of my own life and how complicated and busy that it can be. I never truly get a chance to sit back and reflect on things in my life that I am grateful for. Lastly, one word. Dancing. The first night we arrived we saw a cultural performance from a local cultural dance group. I did not realize how fast people could move. The dancing was amazing!!!!! I have no words. We also got a chance to dance with some of the locals here and share dances from each of our cultures. That was a lot of comical fun to watch. For me, learning the dancing was a lot of fun and exercise. For the people it wasn’t. Each dance movement has meaning to it and the people not only feel the music, but eat, live, and breathe the music also.