Monday, September 12, 2011

Cape Coast Castle

As a part of our initial YFU orientation, we paid a visit to a fort, in the city of Cape Coast, in which the slaves were bought and stored before the arrival of the ships. Built on the seaside by the British after their victory over the Dutch, Cape Coast Castle has been, over the last 300 years, a silent witness to unimaginable pain and suffering. Now, in 2011, this same fort has become a place of memory. The castle's regal white walls and its cells' moldy and dark ones, have been given a voice: that of our wonderful tour guide Justice.
Through him, the tales of men's cruelty and greed come to life and the rooms are filled with the pain of those who died in this very place and of those who, from here, were forced to abandon their homelands forever.
This fort, visited officially a couple of years ago by President Obama and his wife, now stands as a reminder of what cruelty men have been capable of, and as a memorial to the thousands of men and women who were so brutally treated by people who saw them only as merchandise and not as fellow human beings.
Our visit to Cape Coast Castle was very powerful and moving and I believe that everyone who has the chance, should visit this tragic site.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Week!

I've been in Ghana for a week now. I'm slowly starting to get over the initial culture shock and I'm starting to get used to how everything here works.
My family is fantastic; they welcomed me very warmly and did their best to make me feel at home immediately. My sisters all love movies and tv shows, so we've spent a fair amount of time watching tv in my sisters' room. The movies they show here are in part similar to the ones we're used to at home, but there are also lots of local Ghanaian and Nigerian films, and South American soap operas. The African and South American movies are quite different from European and North American movies: the acting style is MUCH more dramatic, with long long pauses and exciting music that accompanies the most important phrases of the dialogues.
Before I left, the thing I was the most curious about was the food: I had no idea what the food here was going to be like, because I had never even heard of most of the ingredients they use here (Cocoyams, Cassava, etc.) I was happy to discover that I quite like the food here, even though I am still having trouble getting used to the size of the portions! One of the things I have eaten the most since I got here are plantains, which look almost exactly like bananas but taste quite differently and cannot be eaten raw. So far I've had: boiled plantain, fried plantain, roasted plantain and kelewele (plantains flavored with ginger, pepper and onions before being fried).
I have so much more things to talk about and describe concerning my life here in Ghana, but the time on the internet cafe' is running out so I should log off, I'll write again after I have my initial orientation.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Less than two weeks to go

It's been over four weeks since my last entry, and this time has been amazingly uneventful. I've mostly spent this month sorting out the last details before my departure (visa, malaria meds, vaccinations, etc) and waiting for the time to pass; feeling like I should be making every last second here in Italy memorable, but not really knowing how.
I've started saying goodbye to everyone, but my departure doesn't feel completely real yet. It probably won't until I'm sitting on the plane in Frankfurt leaving behind everything and everyone I know.

My pre-departure nervousness and fear of homesickness aside, I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed to even have the opportunity of going abroad for a year; let alone of going to such an amazing and welcoming country as Ghana! I've dreamed about being an exchange student for about as long as I can remember and knowing that in 12 days it's actually going to happen is unbelievable.

 On a side note: I was reading "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith, when I came across I phrase about Ghanaians which made me smile so I decided to share it since I don't usually come across many references to Ghana.

"Ghanaians were Mma Ramotswe's favorite people; they had a wonderful sense of humor and were almost inevitably in a good mood."

Thanks for reading, I'll try to write soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

First Post ever!!

I am very happy to be starting this blog on the 15th of July, a date which marks an exact year from two very important events. The first one is my departure for Nepal, exactly a year ago I was landing in Kathmandu for what would become one of the most amazing months of my entire life. At the time, I knew nothing about that small country at the top on the Himalayas which I would soon grow to learn and love; now looking back at that day I feel a mixture of satisfaction for all the challenges I overcame there and nostalgia for all the amazing people I met there. The second date is in the future: July 15th 2012, the day my year in Ghana ends and I have to come home. It is impossible for me to predict the emotions I will feel on that day; all I hope is that in the year I spend there, Ghana will enter my heart as forcefully and as permanently as Nepal did. I hope that I'll have learned to appreciate this country's complex and wonderful culture and when the moment comes to leave this country and make my way home, that I'll carry with me a small part of it and of my experiences there.

I leave for Ghana in 48 days and cannot wait! I have been informed of my host family: their names are Kwasi and Stella and they have 4 daughters ages 10, 13, 20 and 25. I have already chatted on Facebook with some of them and they seem very nice. I'll be living about 45 minutes from Accra.

I'm currently hard at work: pathetically trying to learn some Twi (pronounced Chwee), choosing my host families presents and, most of all, procrastinating packing!!

I'll write when I have more news!