July 19, 2012

Akwaaba

By Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

by Courtney Hernandez

Akwaaba means “Welcome.” “Medasi” means thank you.

Those are two of the first words that I learned in the Ghanaian language upon arrival. As soon as you walk into the airport (after getting through immigration and the 18 passport checks), you are greeted again and again with Akwaba.

We all felt very welcomed when getting here – which is a great feeling- especially for those of us who have never been out of the country before. Entering the Kokrobite Institute was an amazing feeling. We all knew we were staying here and we had all seen pictures, but to actually be here is a whole different thing. It is beautiful! The staff was also very welcoming and kind. The view from where we eat and have meetings is right on the ocean. It really is such a blessing and honor to have the opportunity to be here. It feels great to be a part of the majority and not the minority, for once. I have not been in the Kokrobite Village for very long, but I have already learned a lot about the culture and its people. Today we went on a tour of the village and saw the Kokrobite Police Post, the Village Clinic, hair, fashion and beauty vendors, food vendors, Coca-Cola and Pepsi vendors, even more vendors, and many schools throughout the area. Everyone was welcoming, but the brightest part of my day was the children. Ghanaian children are so friendly and adorable. They always greet you with a big smile and a wave. I love children and am going to work with them someday, so I think that this is a great start to my future field of practice.

We also went on a wetlands tour. We traveled across the village in a “luxury van” (which was an extremely bumpy, but fun ride) to the beach. It was really cool. There was the ocean, and then an island and on the other side of the island was freshwater. We went on a big canoe in the freshwater and got to go on the island which was a home for the families in the fishing business. Today we also got to witness a performance by Chris Williams, an Australian Didgeridoo player. Not only did he play his instrument for us, but later in his visit he was joined by some Kokrobite drummers and dancers for an amazing cross-cultural performance.

Last night we had an evening performance by a small group from a city close by. After their small show we got to do some hands on stuff and I played the drums! It was a different kind of drum than what you usually see, it sat on the floor and you hit it with your fist, or the palm of your hand, while at the same time hitting it with a small stick. The drummer and I had a nice rhythm going on! It was a lot of fun.
So far this trip has been amazing, and I am sincerely thankful to everyone who helped me out with it and gave me things like bug spray and sunblock because you realllly need it here! I especially want to thank my mom because she made sure that I had everything that I would need! And my grandma, because she bought me some beautiful dresses to wear over here.

Tomorrow we are visiting Ashesi University and traveling to the Aburi Carving Village. I can’t wait to tell you about it!

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