Life in Kumasi

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Flag of Ghana  ,
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So far I have spent a week and a half in Kumasi, the capital city of the Asante region. I prefer Kumasi to Accra because the environment and energy of the city is a bit more relaxed, it's cleaner, and is considered to be one of the cultural hubs in Ghana.
After school, I take a tro tro to the Kajetia Market, which is the largest open-air market in West Africa. It is like cramming New York City into a football stadium. You can find anything and everything here; there is American, Indian, and Chinese food, jewelry, fabric, and household items. While walking through the market you will hear people yelling, "Sista, Sista! Please come and have a look at my shop. I have something for you." If you need to improve your bargaining skills you certainly will by the time you leave.  Sellers almost expect you to bargain with them and it has the potential to build a relationship between you and the seller. I've made a number of friends with different vendors through this exchange and sometimes they give me gifts when they see me; I have received a pair of earrings and a bracelet as gifts.  An important aspect of Ghanaian culture that I am becoming increasingly aware of is how people formulate friendships here.  Actively engaging in bargaining is one of the ways that people can establish a friendship or bond with another person.

On the more academic side of things I am taking Twi language courses and dance practicums, which has been a lot of fun.  We have dance class every day at KNUST.  Our dance professor is a woman who has taught professionally for about 5 years and is not only teaching us different dance moves but how to listen to the drum.  There are certain beats in the drum that initiate the changes in the dance and something that I was unable to discern before taking the class.  I love the language teachers; they try to make the classes enjoyable and want to make sure that everyone understands the material. I am gaining a lot more clarity in this part of the Twi course because I'm finally learning how to put actual sentences together instead of memorizing quick phrases to use in certain situations. Even though English is the national language here I speak Twi at least 50% of the time.  I'm thankful for the practice because tones have a significant influence on the direction of the conversation.  For instance, the word papa means, father, fan, and good; the combination in tones will change the meaning of the sentence.

 My home stay mother helps me with my pronunciation and often initiates conversations with me based on the content of my homework, which is really helpful. My home stay family is a single woman who speaks little English and is a partner in a co-op with three other women who collect oranges in the forest and sells them in the market.  She is in a home share with another woman and her two very cute children.  When I come home from school in the afternoons they run up to me giggling and yelling "obruni!" before wrapping themselves around my legs to hug me.  The word Obruni means foreigner and is something I hear a lot. I can't even count the amount of the times that I have walked through the streets and hear people yell "Obruni bye bye” Also, I live near three other students from my SIT group, so we walk to the tro tro run together in the morning when going to school and often split a cab ride when coming home.
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