Friday, July 27, 2012

A Cultural Experience

Dancers from the Islamic Junior High School
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

New sights, different sounds and intense smells, culture shock, cross culture experiences, challenges of language, cultural sensitivity, integration into the community, all part of the Volunteers' unique experience as we  do our best to  live  and work in Ghana and make a contribution to its social and economic capacity. 

During Term 2 of the school year the Junior High students began practicing football (soccer) for three weeks in the afternoon followed by a "sports gala" that took them out of the classroom and into three days of intense competition to determine the Champion Team in the school district.    I was told Term 3 would include the "cultural gala" and more afternoon classes would be missed as the students practiced singing, dancing, drumming, drama and story telling.   The preparation started with a lot snickering, jostling and verbal exchanges as the students sorted out with the teachers insistence, who would represent the school in which event.  Somehow it got done, and the practices began with less than a huge amount of enthusiasm except for the boys who all wanted to play the drums as loud as possible, even with no sense of the timing and rhythm required.  For a few weeks it all seemed headed for a disaster with the teachers avoiding the practices if at all possible.   But, led by the girls dance group, the students began getting serious about the performance and practice got more intense, even for the drummers who received stern looks of dissatisfaction from the female dancers.

On the day of the gala which was scheduled to begin at 8 AM,  I had already forgotten one of the first cultural lessons we Volunteers were taught, "do not expect that events will start as scheduled.  Relax."  Between 10:30 and 11 AM the judges arrived.  I had no idea what to expect, but had my choice of seats at 8 AM so was in a good location to experience the gala.  It was wonderful, over 20 Primary and Junior High schools participating, with beautiful traditional costumes and serious students ready to present a vivid experience of traditional singing, dancing, drama and story telling.  
Dancers/math students from my school
The Story Tellers
Ghana has a rich and diverse culture and I have only experienced a small portion, but look forward to discovering more in the months ahead.  

I don't expect my experience to start on time, but am learning how to relax and be prepared to enjoy what I see and hear.  

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