Peace Corps Ghana. Menji Agric Senior High. Chemistry. Friends. Cooking. Volleyball. Running. Animals.

16 July 2013

Good Bye

Lately, I have been thinking about goodbyes.  You know, what with leaving my home of two years and all.

First of all, let me say about goodbyes... I hate them.  I absolutely hate them.  Saying goodbye exacerbates the awful, inevitable pains that go along with the separation of a person from another person, place, or thing.  Separation already hurts enough without making a show of it.  To me, saying goodbye emphasizes an reoccurring and unavoidable shittyness I have to deal with every few years or so.  It feels like somebody taking a fat, neon yellow highlighter to the saddest parts in the story of my life.

Although, it is clear that I dislike goodbyes, I want you to understand that I can and do appreciate the function of a goodbye.  Goodbyes function as a tangible form of closure.  Without a proper uh-buh-bye-now, people often feel like they were left hanging.  Like there was so much left unsaid and undone.   Like they want to say, “Oh, but-but-but???”  Goodbyes function as the cap on the bottle, the Z to the alphabet, the caboose on the train.  They allow for a clean cut at the end.  The separation to be total.  Finality, you might say.  I understand and appreciate that most people want and need that closure. 

[[ For example... how many people have you ever heard lamenting their need for “closure" with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend? ]] 

Which brings me to my next point, that this is all a bit unfortunate, because my opinion is the exact opposite.   I actively  want and like to leave doors left open.  I want to leave loose ends untied.  In my opinion, you never know when your life might take a turn back to where has been once before.  And if that does happen, wouldn't you want somebody there to say, “OMG, where the heck have you been??”  I want to leave things unsaid, so I can say them in the future.  I do not like the finality of a goodbye.  I like to think that if I like a person, place, or thing enough, I will see them again sooner or later. 

On a related note, in the Ghanaian Twi language, there is no word or words for good bye.  Only “Me kɔ aba,” which translates directly to “I am going to come.”  In other words, I am leaving now, only to return later.  There just isn't a translation for "good bye."  And you know what, I like that.  I like that a whole lot. I wish all goodbyes were just a casual “see ya later.”

An obvious introspective question...  If I hate goodbyes so much, then why the hell do I move so much?  I left Indiana to go to college on the East Coast.   I left Australia after studying at James Cook.  I left Philly with a degree from Penn.  I left the horse ranch when the season was over.  I left Indiana again to go into the Peace Corps in West Africa.  Now I am leaving Ghana to go back to America.  But every time I do this, every time I move, it feels like I have ripped out a little piece of my heart. 

Every time I move, the place I am leaving feels personal and comfortable.  And the place I going, obscure and unknown.  Am I a commitment-phobe?  To a place, to a home?  Or is it just to the excitement of unknown places and people that I am so addicted.  I think it is both.  I think in the modern world, we are so encouraged to travel, experience the world, broaden our horizons, and open our eyes, that I became obsessed with it.  I think I am driven to stay on the move by the notion that it is the road to wisdom.  It is the road to being a cool person, who listens to bands you've never heard of, and takes pictures of elephants and the Sphinx... and posts it all on Facebook.   Alright, alright, that was a side-rant, but you get my point, right?  That being “a citizen of the world” is not only cool, but the only way to be enlightened about.... Well, life!

I don't think that my wanting to see the world is a bad or unhealthy thing for my person... It's just, it sorta conflicts with some stuff.  (A) It conflicts with my love of my family, all of whom are located in Southern Indiana and (B) my plan to marry the man of my dreams and make a bunch of babies.  Oh and don't forget the cute house with the white picket fence. 

Alright, well, this is rambling, and I just got really hungry, so I have to go now. 

Look at me... I hate endings so much that I am not even going to finish my post.  Ugh, ain't I just the worst!

15 July 2013

My Peace Corps Service

Here is my DOS, which stands for Description of Service.  It is a concise summary that all volunteers are required to write of our 2 year service as a Peace Corps volunteers.  It is kept for 60 years in Washington, D.C., as an official government document so... RESPECT.  

And... umm.. ENJOY. Or else! :)

Betsy Ann Conway
United States Peace Corps Volunteer
Description of Service
Ghana, 2011-2013

Ghana is a West African nation of 25 million people. In 1957, it became the first sub-Saharan colony to achieve independence.  With a GDP per capita of less than $1,100 and an average life expectancy of 57 years, Ghana is listed as a developing country.  Peace Corps Ghana traces its roots and mission to 1961, when President John F. Kennedy sent the first 50 Peace Corps volunteers to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in Ghana.  Having just celebrated its 50th year in Ghana, Peace Corps is more vital than ever with volunteers working at the grassroots level in education, health, and agribusiness.

Betsy Ann Conway arrived in Ghana and began a ten week pre-service training program on June 8, 2011. During pre-service training, she received 146 hours of intensive language training, 125 hours of technical teachers' training, 64 hours of safety and security training, 60 hours of cross-cultural training, 56 hours of Core Peace Corps training, 50 hours of medical training, and 48 hours of HIV/AIDS and PEPFAR (President's Plan for AIDS Relief) training.  On August 16th of 2011, Miss Conway officially swore in as a volunteer in the Education Sector of the U.S. Peace Corps. She was assigned to teach at Menji Agricultural Senior High School (MASS) located in the village of Menji in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana.

Primary Activities
Miss Conway's primary assignment was teaching the sciences at MASS.  Housed in a modest, six room building, MASS is home to approximately 170 students.  As in America, public high schools in Ghana consist of four academic levels or “forms.”  Miss Conway taught chemistry theory and laboratory, forms 1 through 4.  She also taught forms 1 and 2 integrated science, a core course including topics in biology, physics, chemistry, and geology.  Between chemistry and science, Miss Conway taught an average of 16 hours per week with class sizes ranging from 15 to 42 students.  Miss Conway also conducted evening tutoring sessions three nights per week in mathematics, English, science, and chemistry.

Along with routine teaching responsibilities, Miss Conway played several other roles at MASS.  She served as an active member of the school’s Guidance and Counseling Team and also as the girls' dormitory Housemistress.   Additionally, she worked as the staff supervisor for the Student Government Committee.  Together they planned school events such as quiz games, field trips, sports days, spelling bees, and school dances.   Finally, Miss Conway helped fill several administrative roles at the school by preparing the class timetables, assisting in the accounting office, and working as the school's ICT specialist.

Primary Activity Projects
                MASS Animal Husbandry Project
Although MASS is by name and curriculum an agriculture school, the school previously lacked any sort of practical agriculture demonstrations.  As a solution, Miss Conway collaborated with the MASS agriculture department to establish an animal husbandry project in October of 2012.  Using funds awarded by a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant, she established several agriculture projects, including goat husbandry, rabbit rearing, poultry production, and bee-keeping.  

The school now has several effective, hands-on animal husbandry activities to enhance and supplement the students' education in agriculture.

                MASS Science and Computer Lab Project
Previously, MASS was severely lacking in infrastructure, having only a few cinderblock classrooms.  In March of 2012, Miss Conway was awarded a USAID Small Projects Assistance Grant to construct science and computer laboratories at MASS.  Miss Conway managed the grant funds in the construction of a two room classroom block along with financial support and manpower provided by the community chief and elders.  The laboratories were stocked with science equipment and computers donated by the Ghanaian government.

Secondary Activities
                Ghana Aids Prevention (GhAP) Committee
From November 2011 until May 2013, Miss Conway served as the Brong Ahafo regional representative on the Peace Corps GhAP Committee.  The purpose of the GhAP committee is to provide support, resources, and information to Peace Corps volunteers undertaking HIV/AIDS projects.  As her own personal HIV/AIDS project, Miss Conway developed a manual for integrating HIV/AIDS education into science teaching at the senior school level.

                Wednesday Morning Health Discussions at MASS                          
Every Wednesday of her service, during morning assembly, Miss Conway would involve the MASS student body in health discussions.  The discussions varied in topic, ranging from oral health to HIV/AIDS awareness and malaria prevention.  These 30-minute discussions usually involved around 100 students, and consisted of an interactive presentation with subsequent Q&A time.

                MASS After-School Volleyball League
                Miss Conway met with her co-ed volleyball league after school three days a week for practice.  In addition to volleyball skills, she taught the students lessons in teamwork, leadership, and communication.  Regularly on weekends, Miss Conway organized and hosted inter-mural and inter-school volleyball tournaments.

                School Gardens Training Workshop
In collaboration with Peace Corps administration, Miss Conway organized a training for other education sector volunteers and their community partners in November of 2012.  During the two-day workshop, a series of lectures provided participants with the theoretical basics of gardening and nutrition.  Later, participants traveled to Miss Conway’s school, MASS, where they worked hand-in-hand with students to establish a school garden.  Together they cleared the land, installed a fence, tilled the soil, planted seeds, and started a compost pile.  The MASS garden is highly productive and is still used in gardening tutorials.

Close of Service
During her two years in Ghana, Miss Conway became an integral part of her school and community.  In honor of her dedication and service to the community of Menji, on July 7th 2013, Miss Conway was enstooled by the Ohene and Nananom (village chief and elders) as the Nkosuohemaa (Queen Mother of Development) of Menji.  Miss Conway successfully completed her service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana on July 17th, 2013.

04 July 2013

To My Darling Replacement (and other new people)

Welcome to Menji!! The first thing I want to say is CONGRATULATIONS, you have been placed at the BEST Peace Corps site in Ghana. I know everybody says that... But seriously, Menji is such a wonderful place to live, I know you will love this place so much!

I'm sure you are aware of this, but when you first get to site, there are SO many things to figure out. Many of these lessons are best learned on your own. You know, the good ol' fashioned hard way. But there are other lessons that I want to share with you right now, just to make your adjustment experience a little bit easier!

So here you go, here is some basic information about living in Menji and in Ghana.

Chapter 1
Where to Buy Stuff

The market adventure is sometimes incredibly fun, but sometimes incredibly irritating, like where-the-F-are-the-potatoes-can-I-get-out-of-here-now. This is a guide to buying stuff.

A. Food
Most weekends, I will make a Saturday trip to Wenchi to buy a load of groceries. The foods are higher quality and less expensive, and also I like to stop at the Mani Agye Spot near the station for a plate of Jollof and a Smirnoff Ice... Yes, Smirnoff is better in Ghana than in America... Here they aren't a weird, gross malt thing, they are a bottled vodka drink.

1) Foods I Normally Buy in Menji...
Eggs, canned sardines, bananas, oranges, butter bread, sugar bread, canned tomato paste, sugar, coffee (single serving), papaya, Lipton black tea, roasted groundnuts, coca cola and other sodas, juice boxes, milk biscuits (my favorite with tea in the afternoon)

Other stuff you can get in Menji, but I prefer to go to Wenchi for due to the better prices, selection, availability, and quality...
rice, oil, groundnut paste, frozen fish, meat (beef or goat with A LOT of sinew, fat, skin, and bones), red palm oil, tomatoes, onions, milk powder, milo, margarine, bread

2) Foods I Can Buy in Nsawkaw...
Although, if I'm traveling, I'll usually travel all the way to Wenchi to get more/ better stuff!
Avocado, bread, tomatoes, garden eggs, red peppers, onions, boxed wine, cassava, yams, plantains, lemons, crappy frozen chicken (always tough), box wine (a core food group in Ghana)

3) Foods I Go to Wenchi for...
Potatoes, cucumbers, green onions, green bell peppers, kontomire, pineapple, mango, watermelon, lettuce, stuff for baking (flour, yeast, baking powder, baking soda), garlic, apples, canned tuna, coffee (big can), jelly/ jam, laughing cow cheese, spaghetti and other pasta shapes, beef, chicken, frozen fish, shortbread cookies, hobknobs, popcorn, off-brand ketchup, soy sauce, mayonnaise, vinegar, dried beans, egushi

4) Foods at the Cash 'n' Carry (Obroni Store near GCB) in Techiman...
CHEESE (usually mozzarella and American-type cheese), cereal (rice crispies and corn flakes), various spices (cinnamon, pepper, steak seasoning, cumin, curry powder, etc.), chocolate chip cookies, frozen hotdogs, frozen sausage, frozen veggies, frozen shrimp, Heinz ketchup, mustard, canned chicken, Maxwell House instant coffee, wine (real bottles), whiskey, vodka, more varieties of jam/ jelly, soy milk, candy bars, cake, olive oil, salad dressing, canned baked beans, spring rolls, real butter

B. Other Life Goods
1) Stuff I Buy in Menji...
Credit, toilet paper, key soap, black permanent markers, washing detergent (single serving), tylenol (they call it paracetemol)

2) Stuff I can buy in Nsawkaw...
Knives, paint

3) Stuff I Go to Wenchi for...
Notebooks, printer paper, phones, phone accessories, kitchen stuff (utensils, plates, bowls, pots, pans, cups, mugs, etc.), flip charts, washing detergent (economy sized), body soap, anything plastic (buckets, trash cans, baskets, tables, chairs, water barrel), fabric, curtains, towels, sheets, flash light, light bulbs, brooms, hangers, colorful chalk, thread, needles

4) Stuff at the Obroni Store in Techiman
Shampoo, conditioner, Gilette razors, Dove/ Irish Spring body washes, mouth wash, baby wipes, Duracell batteries, blow dryers (I know, WTF, right?), body spray, bleach

Chapter 2
Being an Inexperienced Teacher

Being a new, inexperienced teacher is a challenging thing. This is one lesson you'll have to learn mostly on your own, but let me offer one bit of advice...

Menji is a school that takes the leftovers, the students who were rejected from other schools. Most students are pretty poor. Furthermore, not all adults treat them well. What I'm saying is that these young people need an ally. My advice is to not be too hard on them. Don't discipline too harshly. Leave that to the other teachers who are ready with a cane right around the corner.

I promise, if you just earn their respect, you won't even have to discipline these students.

Chapter 3
People at the School

Obviously, you will soon get to know these people for yourself, but sometimes having a list of their names makes things a bit easier!

A. Administration and Teachers
Headmistress   Jacintha Guribie
Assistant Headmaster / General Agric Teacher   John Yawkuu
Core Math Teacher   Emmanuel Danso
English Teacher (your counterpart)     Adama Coulibaly
English Teacher (old and super nice)      Eric Hattoh
Science/ Animal Husbandry Teacher (older)     Kwame Agenda
Science/ Animal Husbandry Teacher (young, talkative)     Kwasi Sarfo Frimpong
Science/ Chemistry Teacher       Samuel Antwi
History Teacher       Adjei Mensah
Government Teacher / Sports Master        Abu Mohammed
Economics Teacher (skinny dude)       Abel Ayamga
Economics Teacher (your roommate)      Meridatu Adam
Geography Teacher (younger)      Joseph Nizelle
Geography Teacher (older)     Charles Brenya
Elective Mathematics Teacher     Prosper Adika
ICT Teacher        Jerry Kuuwilyeng
Business Teacher      Gordon Gbal
PE Teacher         Andrew Amponsah

B. The Non-Teaching Staff
The School Drivers       Yahaya and Isaac
Electrician      Mr. Asamoah
Librarian         Mr. Alhassan
His wife         Madam Mary
His kids      Humu, Adam, Abdulai
Carpenter         Carpee (I don't know his real name)
Accountant         A.C. (Real name is Sekyere Bediako)
Assistant Accountant        Lawrence Aboagye
Store Keeper        Amina Amadu
Typists / Secretaries       Jennifer and Regina
Laborer (old, awesome, wears wellies like every day)    Mr. Lawrence
Laborer (young, talkative)       Eugene (U.G.)
Night Watchman (lil bit crazy and always lil bit drunk)     Kwaku Drogo

C. Your Personal Assistant - Amina
Amina is a Form 2 Arts student here at Menji. For the next two years, Amina can help as much or as little as you want around the house.

The student who helped me (and "trained" Amina) is named Adila. Adila always did all my laundry, fetched my water, cooked about half of my meals, swept in / around the house, and took care of my dog while I was away. In return for all of her help, I was like a meal plan / financial aid plan for Adila... Sometimes I would buy her books or pay her school fees, and she would eat here at the house.

Obviously, you and Amina can work out your own system, but I just want to let you know my system with Adila FYI!

D. A Few Other Important Students...
Christiana Nkrumah    Girls Senior Prefect
Alice Nare Assistant     Girls SP
Richmond Dateng Boys     Boys Senior Prefect
Stephen Ocran         Assistant Boys SP
Zenabu Seidu         Entertainment Senior Prefect
Jamani Fusheni        Assistant Entertainment SP
Martin Shie Dawah        Sports Prefect
Sarfo Seidu        Compound Overseer

**All of these students are AWESOME and will help you do anything, anytime.  If you can't find any of them, the Form 2 agric students are also very nice, responsible, and totally my faves.

Chapter 4
Getting Around

To put it nicely, traveling is a bit of a bitch, so here are some tips.

A. Leaving Menji
1. Leaving usually isn't that hard
2. Wait time is the shortest in the morning (5 - 30 minutes)
3. Wait time is the longest in the afternoon (5 minutes - 1.5 hours)
4. If nothing seems to be even driving by, just get to Nsawkaw by whatever means necessary (back of water truck, random pick up truck, motorbike, or whatever), then you can get to Wenchi in relative ease and comfort in a shared taxi

B. Getting back to Menji
1. Shared taxi back from Nsawkaw (5 minutes - 1.5 hours wait time)
2. Drop taxi back from Nsawkaw (sometimes you just gotta say screw it and drop 10cedi)
3. Tro-tro back from Wenchi (can often be over 1 hour wait time)
4. If you're in Techiman, you have to go to Wenchi first before taking either an Nsawkaw or Menji car home

C. Around Techiman
1. A drop taxi to/ from anywhere in Techiman is easy to find and costs 2.50
2. To get home, take a Wenchi car, which is right underneath the big tree in the main station
3. Past that big tree is a wooden booth where you can buy tro tickets to Kumasi

D. Around Kumasi
WARNING... The main Kumasi station (Kejetia) is a ridiculous, crazy shitshow 24/7
1. Getting home from Kumasi
a. Get a tro-tro back to Techiman from Kejetia on the northwest side of the station under a big, multi-storey, dirty white building
b. Get a tro-tro back to Techiman from "Techiman Station" in Kumasi, which is just up the hill from Kejetia and is WAY less busy than Kejetia

2. To get to the KSO from Kejetia Station...
a. Head towards the white building with the "OMO" logo painted all over it
b. Cross the road and there should be a "Tech" car nearby.
c. From Tech (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology or KNUST), take any car going to "Ejusu" or "Oduom"
d. Alight at the big sign board that says "Pideck" in green lettering.

3. If you're really tired, you can take a drop taxi to the KSO. Just tell the driver "St. Louis Senior School," then go just past the school, and the KSO will be on the right. It should be around 10cedi, unless it's late in the evening, then he'll want 15.

4. To get from Kejetia to Accra...
a. Head towards the white "OMO" building
b. But don't cross the street or leave the station, and there should be a shitload of different types of vehicles going to Accra right there

5. Traveling from Home to Accra
a. You will need to make several vehicle switches:
   * Menji to Nsawkaw
   * Nsawkaw to Wenchi
   * Wenchi to Techiman (Not the Wenchi - Kumasi tro, because it stops in a weird place in Kumasi)
   * Techiman to Kumasi
   * Kumasi to Accra

F. Prices and Durations of Various Trips
Trip / Price / Duration
Menji - Nsawkaw Taxi / 1.50¢ / 10 min
Menji - Wenchi Tro / 3¢ / 30 min
Nsawkaw - Wenchi Taxi / 2.50¢ / 20 min
Wenchi - Techiman Taxi / 2.50¢ / 40 min
Wenchi - Techiman Tro / 2¢ / 45 min
Wenchi - Sunyani Taxi / 4¢ / 1 hr
Wenchi - Sunyani Tro / 3.50¢ / 1 hr 10 min
Techiman - Kumasi Tro / 5.50¢ /  2 hr 15 min
Kumasi - Cape Coast Tro / 12¢ / 4 hr
Kumasi - Accra Tro / ~14¢ / 5 hr
Kumasi - Accra A/C Tro / ~20 / 5 hr
Kumasi - Accra A/C Bus / ~22 / 5 hr
Accra - Cape Coast A/C Tro /  ~16 / 2.5 - 3 hr
Accra - Cape Coast Tro / ~12 / 2.5 - 3 hr

Chapter 5
Hanging Out in Ghana

Do not underestimate the mental rejuvenating powers of a hang out session with friends. You'll be in the village teaching your ass off most of the time, but then you'll also need some occasional down time. And you know what, there are some really cool places to hang out in this country, if you just know where to find them!

A. Wenchi...
1. My favorite spot in this entire country is the Mani'Agye Spot in Wenchi. [Which in case you are curious, translates to the “I Am Happy Spot”] If you leave the station and walk down the street away from the roundabout, the first story building on your right is the place. Downstairs inside, you can order fufu, rice balls, or banku. Downstairs outside, you can order jollof/ fried rice. Upstairs is an awesome open air bar where you can eat your rice, swill a few drinks, and jam to some very loud Ghanaian tunes.

2. The Ambassador Spot is also nice for chilly beverages and meatsticks. If you walk on the Techiman Road away from the round-about for 100 yards, it will be the white two-story building on the right.

2. The Shalom Internet Cafe is really good for accessing the interwebs. It is located in the story building just past New Market on the Techiman Road. Walking, it is about 10 minutes from the round-about on the left.

B. Techiman...
1. The Agyeiwaa Hotel across from the main station is fantastic. There is a huge, fenced-in courtyard with lovely greenery and cabanas. Nobody ever bothers me, even if I am alone. Beers are around 4 or 5 and amazing chicken kebabs are 3 a piece.

2. Tedium is a little pizza cafe down the alley between the Cash and Carry and the Ghana Commercial Bank. This place is air conditioned, serves cold drinks, and pretty darn tasty chicken sausage pizza.

3. The Hooters Spot (not making that up) is east on the Kumasi road about 1/4 of a mile past the major Sunyani junction. If you get to the Total station, you've gone too far. It is a second story bar that is a common drinking spot for B/A volunteers.

4. The Kristoboase Monastery is a place of quiet, peace, rejuvenation, and solitude. It is a Catholic monastery and small guesthouse in the middle of a huge cashew grove and beautiful gardens. For 30.00 per person per day, they provide you a small room (twin bed, desk, and cold shower) and three delicious homemade vegetarian meals. Brother Patrick also runs a small shop where he sells stuff he makes: fruit jams and jellies, cashew brandy (WHOA), fruit wines, and honey. The monastery is located about 15 minutes north of Techiman on the Tamale Road. I love the monastery and go sometimes just to say hi to Bro Pat.

C. Kumasi...
1. If you leave the KSO, go out to the road, take a right, and walk for 5 minues, you'll see on your left across the road the May-something hotel. It is white, 3 stories, and fenced in. This place has totally yummy burgers for 5cedi and spring rolls (two big ones) for 1cedi.

2. Vic Baboo's Indian Restaurant in Adum, just south of Kejetia in the center of Kumasi, is a great place for Tikka Masala, a pizza, cheesy garlic bread, or a delicious and fancy cocktail! Main dishes are around 13cedi and the specialty cocktails are around 10.

3. In the suburb "Ahodwo," there is another great hotel for hanging out called the Sir Max Hotel. Their pool and poolside lounging is super nice (swimming costs 10cedi), their pizza is great, the wings are WHOA good, and as an added bonus, you can smoke hookah!

D. Accra...
**WARNING... Accra is EXPENSIVE. Getting around, food, drinks, everything.
1. Tandoor Indian Restaurant is just a 10 - 15 minute walk from the Accra office and is a great place to hang out with friends. The seating is outdoor at big wooden tables. I suggest getting a lot of the garlic naan and a few main dishes to share between friends. Beers are around 6, a glass of wine 7, and a main dish is approximately 15.
2. For a serious splurge, go to Rhapsody's in the Accra Mall. You can drink draft beer, Cabernet by the glass, eat a t-bone steak flown in from South Africa that morning, and watch rugby on a flatscreen. If you are having a drink and dinner, expect to spend around 60, but also expect to feel like you are in an excellent first-world sports bar.

3. For breakfast, go to Deli France to indulge in a latte and pastry. It is only a 10-15 minute walk from the Accra office in Labone. Also, I think they have wi-fi, but you need the password.

4. Chix n Ribs in Osu is run by a huge black guy from Chicago and serves chicken wings, pork ribs, and cheese-bacon burgers. Each thing is around 20cedi. Walk through Osu and take a left at Papaya.

5. Frankie's is the massive hotel casino down the Osu road on the right. It's a white building with “FRANKIE'S” in big blue letter. You really can't miss it. Go to Frankie's to split a 10cedi bucket of gelato with friends and/or eat a delicious doughnut or croissant.
5. I think Melting Moments (the restaurant closest to the office) is totally over-rated. Except the coffee. The coffee is good.

E. Cape Coast...
1. You must visit the Baobab House near the castle. It is an affordable, but very neat and tidy vegetarian restaurant and guesthouse. A room for two is 30cedi (the bathing and toilet facilities are downstairs and are shared), breakfast (crepes with chocolate and bananas) is around 4, a cup of real, brewed coffee or lemongrass tea is 3, and dinner (veggie pizza) is around 5. The also have a craft shop which sells great batik fabric for 7cedi per yard.

2. In my opinion, the best restaurant in Cape Coast is the Castle Restaurant, just west of the castle directly on the water. They have a HUGE menu and everything I've tried is delicious... the grilled garlic chicken, the pizzas, the fries, the calamari, the fried rice, the chicken kebabs, the curry, the cheeseburger, and even the groundnut soup and rice balls.

3. The best nightlife is at Oasis. Ali (the young, weird, but cool German owner) just told me they put in a stripper pole next to the bar. Yikes. Also you can rent a bunk in the dorms for 15.

4. If you want a quiet, relaxing beach weekend, head just west of Cape Coast about 20 minutes to Brenu Beach Resort. A room for 2 is 30cedi, wine by the bottle is 15-20, and a platter overflowing with grilled lobster and fries is 28. The staff and owner, Agnes, are all great people. The swimming is fantastic, and there is an ocean side bar and cabanas, small boys scurrying up palm trees for the coconuts, hammocks, beautiful white sand... Forget the Hide Out. Brenu is easier/ cheaper to get to and just as great.

Chapter 6
The Best Things Come in Small Packages
(or actually, really big ones preferably that are sent from America)

It's hard to be in America and imagine what someone in Ghana needs. It's also hard to be living a life of deprivation and still remember all the cool shit you can buy at Walmart. Here are some of the things I have been happiest to see inside of a care package...

Beef Jerky, the green-lidded Kraft sprinkle parmesan, green tea, herbal tea, ground coffee/ a mini French Press, nuts (almonds, pistachios), oreos, any packaged cheese snack (gold fish, cheese nips, cheetos), ranch dressing, dried fruit, a burnt CD of the latest cool American jams (yeah apparently Tay Swift went pop while I was away WTF), individually wrapped candies, new underwear, a nice new shirt or dress for teaching in is always fantastic, any kind of ball (volleyball, soccer ball, nerf ball), stickers for the neighborhood nugget party, a new pair of sandal.

Chapter 7

While living in Menji, I paired up with a rascal of an animal. He is a dog named Fuzz. He also responds to Puppy. If you want him around, he is a great pet and guard dog. He is funny, disciplined, and barks at any and everything that moves within 10 feet of the house. Ask Augustina Tanaa (form 2) where to find him.

Chapter 8
Miscellaneous Juicy Tidbits

A few random and final words of advice about living in Ghana:

  • Don't eat meat/ egg pies. Just don't. Ever. Eat meat sticks and pepe eggs instead!
  • People will call you obroni. And they will ask for money. And there ain't nothin to do about it.
  • December and January will be incredibly hot and dry, and the farmers will set everything on fire. I highly recommend always keeping eye drops and chapstick on your person.
  • Classes may be spontaneously canceled for any of the following reasons:
    • A "holiday" (these occasionally pop-up out of the blue)
    • A sports event
    • Any other kind of event (e.g. a debate)
    • Rain
    • A teachers' strike
  • Do yourself a favor... Don't get lazy. Work out.
  • Caning happens. Sorry-O.
  • Red cashew fruits are better tasting than the yellow ones. They fruit in March. Avocados are in season in May-July. Small, local mangoes are in season in April-May. Big, foreign mangoes and grilled corn show up around June. Papaya is in season in January. I cry thinking about that quality of seasonal produce I'll never have in America.
  • SPA Grants are AWESOME. And the Peace Corps Grants Coordinator, Eugene, is even more awesome! PCPP grants are cool top, but require a little more work (in the form of fund-raising). You will find out more about grants at your Reconnect. If you feel so inspired, I highly encourage you apply for a grant!
  • When not in Menji, walk fast and with determination. The faster you move, the fewer people will grab or yell at you!
  • Email me if you need anything. Seriously!    

01 July 2013

Walkin' Round 'n' Talkin' Twi

50 Most Useful
Twi Phrases

Greetings        Introductions   Going Places       Around the House         Buying Stuff    Miscellaneous

The American English version of the phrase is listed first; it is the one in larger font. Following that is the properly-spelled Twi version, the phonetic Twi version, and then the direct English translation.

Often, an English phrase cannot be translated word-for-word into Twi and still make sense. This is why the English phrase does not have the same wording as the direct translation phrase. I included the direct translation in case you are curious about the meaning of a word or Twi sentence structure.

This is NOT a comprehensive language guide NOR is it LPI prep guide. It is merely a list of practical phrases that will get you through most normal, real-life situations here in Ghana. Some of the Twi spellings may not be correct. Spelling seems to vary wildly depending on who you ask or what book you use! Also, if you are Ghanaian and/ or know Twi well, feel free to comment!

Part I. Greetings

1. Good morning.
Twi                                  Maakye. or Maakye-o.
(Phonetic)                                  (mah-chee) (mah-chee-oh)
Direct Translation                                  Give morning. Give morning-o.

2. Good afternoon.
Twi                                  Maaha. or Maaho.
(Phonetic)                                   (mah-hah) (mah-how)
Direct Translation                                   Give afternoon. Give afternoon-o.

3. Good evening.
Twi                                  Maadwo. or Maadwo-e.
(Phonetic)                                   (mah-joe) (mah-joe-aye)
Direct Translation                                   Give evening. Give evening-o

4. Response to “Good morning/ afternoon/ evening”
Twi                                   Yaa'nua. or Yaa'ena. or Yaa'agya. or Ye'mu / Ye'sϽn.
(Phonetic)                                   (yeh-nweah) (yeh-ennah) (yah-edgah) (yeh-moo / yeh-sohn)
Direct Translation                                   Yes, peer. Yes, old woman. Yes, old man. Yes, anybody.

5. How are you? I am fine. (version 1 )
Twi                                   Wo ho te sɛn? Me ho yɛ.
(Phonetic)                                   (woh hoe teh sane) (meh hoy-yeh)
Direct Translation                                  Your body feels how? My body is.

6. How are you? I am fine. (version 2)
Twi                                  ɛtɛ sɛn? ɛyɛ. or BϽϽkϽϽ. or Nyame Adom.
(Phonetic)                                   (eh-teh sane) (eh-yeh) (boh-kohhh) (nyah-me ah-dome)
Direct Translation                                  It feels how? It is. Cool. God's grace.

7. How are you? I am fine. (version 3)
Twi                                  ApϽmu'e? ɛyɛ. or BϽϽkϽϽ. or Nyame Adom
(Phonetic)                                   (ah-poo-moo-a) (eh-yeh) (boh-kohhh) (nyah-me ah-dome)
Direct Translation                                   Health? It is. Cool. God's grace.

Part II. Introductions
8. What is your name? My name is _______. (version 1)
Twi                                  Wo din de sɛn? Me din de ______
(Phonetic)                                   (woh deen deh sane) (meh deen deh _____)
Direct Translation                                   You are named how? My name is ______
9. What is your name? My name is _______. (version 2)
Twi                                  Ye frɛ wo sɛn? Ye frɛ me _______
(Phonetic)                                   (yeh freh woh sane) (yeh freh me ______)
Direct Translation                                   We call you how? We call me ______

10. What is your occupation? I am a teacher.
Twi                                  Wo yɛ adwuma bɛn? Me yɛ tikyani.
(Phonetic)                                   (woh yeh ad-jew-mah bane) (me yeh tee-cha-nee)
Direct Translation                                  You do work which? I am teacher.

11. Where do you live? I live in Sunyani.
Twi                                   Na wo te he? Me te Sunyani.
(Phonetic)                                   (nah woh teh hey) (meh teh Sunyani)
Direct Translation                                  And you live where? I live Sunyani.

12. What are you from? I am from America.
Twi                                   Wo firi he? Me firi America.
(Phonetic)                                   (woh firi he) (mee free America)
Direct Translation You from where? I from America.

13. This is my wife/ husband/ brother/ sister.
Twi                                   Me yere / kunu / nuabarimaa / nuabaa nie.
(Phonetic)                                   (me yearay / koo-noo / noo-ah-berry-mah / noo-ah-bah nee-yay)
Direct Translation                                  My wife / husband / brother / sister this.

Part III. Going Places
14. Where are you going?
Twi                                   Wo kϽ he?
(Phonetic)                                   (woh koh hey)
Direct Translation                                   You go where?

15. I am going to town/ market.
Twi                                   Me kϽ krom/ dwam.
(Phonetic)                                   (me koh croom/ jwahm)
Direct Translation                                   I go town/ market.

16. When will you return?
Twi                                  Wo bɛ ba da bɛn?
(Phonetic)                                   (woh beh bah dah bane)
Direct Translation                                  You will come day which?

17. I will return today / tomorrow / the day after tomorrow
Twi                                  Mɛba enneɛ / okyina / okyina akye
(Phonetic)                                   (meh-bah ennay / oh-chin-nah / oh-chin-ah ah-chee)
Direct Translation                                   I will come today / tomorrow / tomorrow back.

18. Where have you been?
Twi                                   Wo kϽϽ he?
(Phonetic)                                   (woh kaw hey)
Direct Translation                                  You went where?

19. I traveled.
Twi                                   Ma tu kwan.
(Phonetic)                                   (mah too quine)
Direct Translation                                   I travelled.

20. Excuse me, where is the Sunyani car?
Twi                                   Me pa wo kyew, Sunyani kaa wo he?
(Phonetic)                                   (me pah woh choh, Sunyani car woh hey?)
Direct Translation                                  I beg your pardon, Sunyani car is where?

21. Driver, please, slow down!
Twi                                   Driver, mesrɛ, tϽbϽ!
(Phonetic)                                   (drivah, meh-ser-reh, toh-boh)
Direct Translation                                  Driver, I beg, slow down!

22. Mate, I will get down here / there / at the billboard.
Twi                                   Mate, me si ha / hϽ / wϽ signboard.
(Phonetic)                                   (mate, meh see hah / hoe / woh signboard)
Direct Translation                                  Mate, I sit here / there / at signboard.

23. To get to Sunyani is how much?
Twi                                   KϽ Sunyani yɛ sɛn?
(Phonetic)                                   (koh Sunyani yeh sane)
Direct Translation                                   Go Suyani is how much?

24. What gift did you bring me from your travels?
Twi                                  Na wo tϽ deɛn abrɛ me?
(Phonetic)                                   (nah woh tow dee-ane ah-breh me)
Direct Translation                                   And you bought what to bring me?

25. I brought you bread.
Twi                                  MatϽ panoo ama wo.
(Phonetic)                                   (mah tow pah-no ah-mah woh)
Direct Translation                                  I bought bread to give you.

Part IV. Around the House
26. Anybody home?? …. Hello, I'm coming.
Twi                                 Agoo? …. Amee, me ba.
(Phonetic)                                  (ah-go) (…. ah-may meh-bah)
Direct Translation                                 Hello? …. Hello, I'm coming.

27. Please.... (followed by a request)
Twi                                  Me pa wo kyew...
(Phonetic)                                  (me pah woh choh...)
Direct Translation                                  I beg your pardon...

28. Wash my clothes today.
Twi                                  Si m'ataadea enneɛ.
(Phonetic)                                  (see mah-tah-dee-a innay)
Direct Translation                                 Wash my clothing today.

29. Please wash the dishes.
Twi                                  Hohoro nkyɛsee/nniema no.
(Phonetic)                                  (hoh-horrow en-chensee /nee-ay-ma no)
Direct Translation                                 Wash dishes the.

30. Sweep my room.
Twi                                 Pra me dan mu.
(Phonetic)                                  (prah meh dine mew)
Direct Translation                                 Sweep my room inside.

31. Fetch water for me.
Twi                                  KϽ sa nsuo abrɛ me.
(Phonetic)                                  (koh sah in-sue-oh ah-breh me)
Direct Translation                                  Go carry water to bring me.

32. I am going to bathe.
Twi                                 Me kϽ dware.
(Phonetic)                                  (mee koh jwah-ray)
Direct Translation                                  I go bathe.

33. Where is the soap?
Twi                                  Samina no wo he?
(Phonetic)                                  (saminah no woh hey)
Direct Translation                                  Soap the is where?

34. What do you want to eat?
Twi                                 Wo bɛdi deɛn?
(Phonetic)                                  (woh beh-dee dee-ane)
Direct Translation                                  You will eat what?

35. I want an egg sandwich.
Twi                                 Me pɛ kosua akye ne panoo.
(Phonetic)                                  (meh peh cosia ah-chee nee pah-no)
Direct Translation                                  I like egg fried and bread.

36. I have eaten, I am satisfied.
Twi                                 Ma didi, maame paa.
(Phonetic)                                  (mah dee-dee, mah-me pah)
Direct Translation                                  I have eaten, I am full very.

37. We will pound fufu tonight.
Twi                                  Yɛbɛ wϽ fufu anwϽmmerɛ yei.
(Phonetic)                                  (yeh-beh woh fufu anew-mirray yee)
Direct Translation                                 We will pound fufu evening this.

38. I am going to bed... Good night!
Twi                                  Me kϽ da... Da yie!
(Phonetic)                                  (me koh dah... dah yee)
Direct Translation                                  I go sleep... Sleep well!

Part V. Buying Stuff
39. What do you want to buy?
Twi                                 Na wo pɛ deɛn? or Na wo tϽ deɛn?
(Phonetic)                                  (nah woh peh dane) (nah woh toh dane)
Direct Translation                                  And you like what? And you buy what?

40. I want to buy rice / beef / cassava.
Twi                                 Me tϽ ɛmϽ / nantwinam / bankye
(Phonetic)                                  (meh toh eh-moo / nan-chwee-num / ban-chey)
Direct Translation                                  I buy rice / cow meat / cassava.

41. This is how much?
Twi                                 ɛyɛ sɛn?
(Phonetic)                                  (eh-yeh sane)
Direct Translation                                  It is how much?

42. Where can I buy bananas?
Twi                                  ɛhe na me nya kwadu atϽ?
(Phonetic)                                  (eh-hee-nah meh nyah quah-doo ah-toh)
Direct Translation                                 Where me get banana to buy?

Part VI. Miscellaneous
43. I am sick.
Twi                                 Me yare.
(Phonetic)                                  (meh yarray)
Direct Translation                                  I am sick.

44. Thank you (very much).
Twi                                     Me'daase (paa).
(Phonetic)                                  (meh dah-see (pah))
Direct Translation                                  I thank (much).

44. What the hell! (exclamation)
Twi                                  Adɛn!
(Phonetic)                                  (ah-den)
Direct Translation                                  Why!

45. Let's pray.
Twi                                  Yɛ bϽmpaeɛ.
(Phonetic)                                  (yeh bom-pie-aye)
Direct Translation                                 We pray.

46. I am hungry.                                    47. I am thirsty.
Twi                                 ɛkϽm de me.                             SukϽm de me.
(Phonetic)                                  (eh-com deh me)                                  (sue-com deh me)
Direct Translation                                  ??                                                                   ??

48. You are crazy. (rude)
Twi                                  WϽabϽdam.
(Phonetic)                                  (wah-boh-dahm)
Direct Translation                                  ??

49. Go away. (also not very nice)
Twi                                  Firi ha kϽ.
(Phonetic)                                  (free-hah koh)
Direct Translation                                  Away here go.

50. Let's play volleyball!
Twi                                  Yɛbɛ bϽ volley!
(Phonetic)                                  (yeh-beh boh volley)
Direct Translation                                 We will hit volleyball!