Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reflections on the time in Ghana

It's hard to believe that our almost 3 months in Ghana are drawing to a close. 
The time here has been a collage of memories: from the soothing beach at Accra to the massive recycling/scrap/toxic site at Agbgbloshie (and a painful memory of tear gas and brute force and inhumane treatment of the immigrant workers there). From the lovely tree-studded campus at the University of Ghana, Legon, to our emerging home at Tema. From days without electricity to the installation of solar panels and an inverter.

Here are just an eclectic few of my "Lessons learned": 
  1.  I prefer mosquitoes and sweating to snow and ice.
  2.  Things move much more slowly and with a lot more "hiccups" than American me wants them to (though this does cause me to reflect a bit on the frenzied pace of life in the U.S. and my inordinate dependence on electronic media).
  3.  Schools in Ghana still reward memorization and obedience over critical thinking and creativity. 
  4. Ghanaians still seem to suffer from an identity crisis: their models in most areas of life, from food to hairstyles to architecture, seem based on the Americas or Asia rather than emerging from their indigenous societies.
  5. There are many signs of hope springing up (e.g., the African "maker movement," sustainable agriculture and improved hygiene efforts, and a number of  true Ghanaian entrepreneurs)
  6. There's still a long way to go to overcome the lack of a maintenance culture, and to improve customer service.
  7. An especially painful lesson: don't forget to back up your photos on your new phone or you'll kick yourself when you lose it in a taxi and all those photos are gone, gone, gone. . .

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