Back story- For the past seven weeks Chris and I have had 70 Ghanaian college students living in our compound. Our quiet abode has turned into a 24 hr kitchen, movie theater, and dance party all in one. We were initially told 17 students were coming and then one day a bus rolled up and 70 students unloaded their bags, buckets, coal pots, and mats and moved right on in. Fun fact- there’s no word for “personal space” in any of the 50+ Ghanaian languages. In American standards our house would hold about 15 and here we have 70. It’s been crazy, but we have been managing. We promised to serve under “conditions of hardship” well I would say this would qualify… We keep telling ourselves it won’t last forever, while doing the best we can to make the most of it.
The students are from the University of Development Studies and part of their degree program is to spend two summers in a rural village in Ghana. They do a lot of what we have been doing – house to house census and needs assessments. Next summer they will return and do more community development work. Many of the students come from privileged families and have yet to witness the poorer, more rural parts of Ghana. These are Ghana’s future leaders so I think that’s it’s a great thing that the University has them experience the challenges, life, and culture of different parts of their country.
It’s currently the Islamic fasting month Ramadan. From sunrise to sunset the Muslims do not eat or drink anything. They use the time to go inward and ask for forgiveness of sins. About 15 of the students living with us are Muslim, so we have gotten to experience Islam like never before. They gather 5 times a day to pray together under the Neem tree facing Mecca in perfect ritualistic fashion. It’s fascinating and pretty darn inspiring to see such devotion.
A few days ago, one of the students asked if I would break the fast with them. I told them sure, that I would meet them under the neem at dusk. They prepared okra soup and banku. We shared a communal bowl and talked about religion, family, culture, and travel. It felt surreal. Here I am sitting across the world from home sharing supper with new friends who’s life experience has been vastly different than mine, yet we are able to relate in many ways and enjoy a meal together. It’s was definitely one of my favorite cultural experiences yet.
These 8 weeks were madness, but we were glad to meet some really cool people. It felt so good to have in-depth conversations in English. They were also able to break down some aspects of the culture we weren’t quite getting