Monday, February 8, 2010

1.5 ish years later?

Wow. I can't believe that I am halfway through my second quarter at UCSB. The last time I wrote on this blog I was applying for colleges, hoping that I would get into the ones I wanted. I never would have guessed that I would have ended up here at UCSB, but i am soooo glad that I did. I'm pretty sure that back in September '08 if I would have had to guess at which college I would go to I would have said Berkeley. Soooo glad I ended up here. Besides the scholarship that they are giving me, the atmosphere and people (and beach!) fit me so well. I love it here.

What does this even have to do with this blog though?

I guess that traveling to Ghana gave me a really good perspective on life, not to mention a good essay topic for college apps. I think we will always wonder what it was in our college applications that made up the reader's minds on whether or not to let us in.

I'm glad to say that I have kept in touch somewhat with my Ghanaian host family. I called for xmas this year, although that convo only lasted for about 5 minutes because of the crappy connection. I keep in touch with my siblings mostly over facebook. It's difficult though because of the time difference.

Also, my family is currently hosting an exchange student through AFS from Ecuador. My little sister really enjoys having him to keep her company now that I'm in college 6 hours away I think. I'm glad that he gets along with our family so well. (esp. seeing as I'm the one who pushed hosting him so much). I think they are all having a really good time.

Anyways, this is a really random post, not to mention extremeeelyy late compared to my last one, but I am taking a break from studying for midterms and was thinking about my blog....which has one follower.....despite me not having posted on it for like 2 Hahaha.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Journal Entry Fri 7/18/08

So tonight we're going clubbing!!!! I am so excited! A bunch of us AFSers are going and so are Fafa and Patrick and his friend and a couple of other host siblings. I beleive we are going to a place called Cinderellas and its supposedly ladies night so girls get in free! Not exactly sure what to expect but I have a feeling it will be crazy!
Today we gave our presents to the Foster Home. It was much more organized than Peace and Love. We didn't work at all but I had fun playing Ampe with the girls. It's a game where you jump up and stick a foot out and depending on the foot combo you win or lose. Clapping is also involved. I am horrible at it! But I did get a good video and pictures. A bunch of kids asked for my email too so I might be getting a bunch of emails from random kids!

Journal Entry Thurs. 7/17/08

Lost my mango bet by the way, and then today Anne and a few other girls bought mangos for 20 peswas!!! ARgggghh!
Last day at Christ Faith Foster Home: Today we painted a lot. I still don't think it was quite finished but oh well. Before we got to Christ Faith today we stopped by Peace and Love to check up on our gifts and to see if my soccer ball ever turned up. It didn't. It makes me so angry that someone could steal/ lose a ball meant for the orphanage. It was the coolest and nicest feeling in the world going back there. All the kids in their classrooms ran to the windows and doors and were screaming and cheering they were so excited to see us again!! Everyone wante to stay and not have to go back to Frafraha. We feel like we could have made much more of an impact at Peace and Love if we had just been able to stay there for the 2 weeks. The kids could have used some more attention as well as the facilities and classrooms. We told AFS to just have the group stay at Peace and Love next year.

On a somewhat lighter note, Ben has been continuing his tricks. Last night he woke me up at like 2 am just to piss me off. I guess he did it the night before too but I didn't wake up. This time I did though and chased him out of my room and tackled him. If he keeps messing with me I might just have to do something drastic! Rob suggested taking pictures with his toothbrush in random gross places and not revealing them until I leave!! We'll see if I need to be that sever. And today he stole some of my cookies. I told him his punishment is that now he wont get any of the chocolate chip ones that I am making this weekend.
Tomorrow I am hoping to go clubbing. I need to check with Uncle Ben again to see if we can go. A bunch of the AFS people are going and Fafa and I would really like to go. It will be both of our first times! I am excited!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Only in Ghana

well, maybe not only in Ghana, but....close enough.

  • Crazy Trotro Rides

  • Fan Ice!! eating contest

  • Drinking water out of plastic pouches

  • Saying "What will you take" instead of "What do you want to eat"

  • Akwaaba and speaking in Twi

  • Extreme Friendliness: little children, old people, you name it

  • Obroni!!!

  • Sleeping without covers every night

  • Water and power outages simultaneously

  • Flipflops= slippers

  • NO short shorts in public (or if your Ghanaian= "hot pants")

  • Hand washing everything

  • little geckos in your shower

  • Every other shop named after God or Jesus EX. God is Great Fast Food; It is Jesus Hair Salon

  • Peace and Love Orphanage and Acadamy

  • Having to go to an internet cafe

  • First homesickness ever

  • Cold showers every day and occasionally bucket showers

  • Second Chance TV Novella: Spanish soap opera, dubbed in English, played in ghana!! ahaha

  • Hilariously dramatic Nigerian movies

  • 1 DVD with 20 or more dance/cheer themed movies on it (or any other theme you can think of)

  • No drinking water from the tap, obroni

  • Malaria pills and mosquito repellent

  • Having to bargain for almost EVERYTHING

  • Never being on time, always late by at least an hour

  • A whole new family

  • Not being able to understand their accents

  • Being called "fat" is a compliment

  • Heavy food!!!

  • Eating everything with sauce, meat at every meal. fufu, yam, potato, rice!!!

  • Spicy!! Deep fried stuff, fish head, goat skin?? chicken gizzard........

  • surprisingly not eating that much fruit at home......but delicious mangos, pineapple, you name it off the street

  • Taxi and trotro people trying to get you into their car

  • Never static hair, always sticky/damp/sweaty skin

  • small dogs

  • football!!! everywhere

  • little beggar children from Niger at our trotro stop that we fed mangos and taught how to play thumb wars

  • Colorful shops and clothes

  • Getting stared at wherever you go

  • Pouring down rain 1 minute and 5 minutes later not being able to tell it even rained

  • Really bad roads

  • trash everywhere, even the beach

  • Mirinda soda and Maltas

  • Feet that are never quite clean

  • Trotro= Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland+ Knight Bus from Harry Potter

  • Actually needing coin money more than big bills

  • cheap clothes!! cheap lots of stuff

  • Sadly not much cool wildlife (but only cuz i was in Accra, a huge city)

  • No seat belts

  • Ghanaian Prom!!: starts at 6pm, no one show up till at least 9pm, party doesn't get going till 9:30pm, no dancing till 10pm, leave at 11:30!!!

  • the gesture for "come" is backwards

  • Obroni tax: Vendors trying to rip you off cuz your white

  • Trotro mates calling "AccraAccraAccraaaa" or "CircleCirclecirclecircaciracace" or "AdentaAdentaAdenta"

  • Little kids making you join their jumping game called Ampe

  • Fried Chicken and rice for lunch and dinner constantly on our touring week

  • Canopy walk!!

Shop Names: Jesus is Awesome Fast Food; The Blood of Jesus Fashion; God is Great Chemicals; It Is Jesus______; God is Love Automotive Repairs; Blow Master Limited (air conditioning!)

Journal Entry Mon.7/14/08

At the orphanage Thursday we helped repaint the canteen walls and decorated them with pictures and sayings and the like.
Friday we played a soccer game with the girls at the school with the orange and yellow ball I brought. Somehow it never made it quite back to the orphanage though. We suspect one of the teachers stole it, but when we have no way to prove it. We had our last African dance lesson, i will try to remember it all so I can show everyone. (Now that I am back, I can only remember some of the moves)
I hid Ben's bluetooth controller Thursday morning and he found out it was gone that afternoon. He had all of his friends over and they couldn't play because it was gone! I denied any involvement and convinced him it must have been Patrick!!! Eventually, the next day I admitted stealing it though. I definitely got him back sufficiently for stealing my shoes, pretending Pinky was dead and chasing me around the yard with dog poop!
Saturday we did laundry by hand. I wish we had a washing machine!! and a dryer! Oh well, I will manage. We were supposed to go shopping but ran out of time. I was disappointed ! I also watched Auntie Tina and Diane and Fafa make 2 local stews. Then I made Gnocchi for them which took much longer than expected. Ben could barely finish his plate which is surprising because he says he usually eats so much! Although I have never really seen him eat a whole meal......Next time it will go better and more organized.
Sunday we were supposed to go to church, but ended up not. Ben and I went to an internet cafe. Afterwards we rode home and decided to meet Fafa at Auntie Kate's school because we decided we wanted to go swimming after all. We went to the Coco Beach Hotel and swam in their pool. I tried to teach Ben how to float but he didn't quite get it. He's almost there though. When we got back I fell asleep on the couch, I was so tired!
Today, Monday, we went to the other orphanage Christ Faith Foster Home in Frafraha. It is much bigger and cleaner and nicer, but the kids didn't interact with us as much. I didn't teach today so maybe that is why, but still. I did paint a whole shower though, which looked pretty good afterward. for some reason or other our lunch didn't arrive until 3, which is usually the time we leave. We were so hungry! Everyone bought Fanice and one of the ladies brought us some weird doritos and yummy juice. I think she overheard us fantasizing over American food! Oh well, it was an OK first day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Journal Entry Wed. 7/9/08

Yesterday and today we were at the orphanage again. Yesterday I painted the canteen/ cafeteria green. We got FanIce after lunch from some ladies down the road who went and bought it for us from a wholesale store. I met my other host brother Patrick when I got home. Patrick is 24 and just completed college. We sat talking for a long time and I think we get along pretty well. I'm amazed how well I fit into their family! We shared music and "watched" the Sound of Music with Fafa.
Today we all met at the junction again. The same beggar kids were there again. I have a feeling we will be seeing them all week and next. I don't want to give them money, but i do want to buy them a toy or some mangoes or something. I feel bad denying them every time. Maybe i will buy a bunch of mangoes for cheap so i can win my bet with Robb that I can get a mango for 20 peswas. (I actually did end up buying mangos for them towards the end of the 2nd week. I didn't fulfill my bet though!) At the orphanage I taught in the same class again. The teacher was sick or something and wasn't there at all. We were good for awhile but after some time it fell apart. Kids were getting up, leaving the room, talking. A fight even started between 2 of the boys! We couldn't wait for lunch break to come!!
It's nice feeling so wanted and loved by all of the kids. Some people tried teaching the little kids about hygiene; their bathroom used to be disgusting until some of the boys nuked it and it still is pretty bad. I tried to buy mangos; got close to my goal: 3=1 cedi, so 1= 33 pesewas. So I bought 3 and gave 2 to other people. Before lunch, one little girl brought me into her classroom, the youngest group. Two guy teachers were in there tracing coloring sheets. They had me sit down and I ended up being the only obroni in there. They kept pushing me to go with them for lunch or down to see the river and if I sang and where I lived and how old I was etc. They made me feel very awkward and uncomfortable! I had to trace a coloring sheet and the kept probing for info and called me pretty girl from California. I ended up saying I needed to find my bag and that lunch was being served to my group in order to get out of there. I was so relieved to leave! (It turns out that these guys harrassed a bunch of the girls in our AFS group too including Rebecca our team leader. They were very persistent!)
I came home with Patrick today. He pretended not to know me at the bus stop and he almost confused me! But fortunately I recognized him! When we got home the power and water were both off. It came back on then turned off again not too much later. It was pretty dark in the house and we could only find 1 lantern that worked by using our phone and ipod lights. Patrick doesn't usually live in the house so he didn't know where anything was. It made me laugh.

Yesterday Ben pretended Pinky had died and told me so on our bike ride home from Costal Junction. I believed him but when I asked Fafa at home she told me it was a lie! And. Today he hid my tennis shoes. I am going to have to get him back. Patrick told me to steal and hide his bluetooth controller for his Xbox wireless remote. Tomorrow I am definitely going to! I'm looking forward to seeing his face when I get home!

Journal Entry Mon. 7/7/08

Yesterday we went to church a little down the road from our house. Way different from any church I've been to. Lots of singing and clapping and dancing. Two old ladies were walking around and shouting things and one of them brought her own olive oil and had everyone blessed. I was announced in front of th hle church and they prayed for me. About 2 1/2 hours, but it wasn't too bad. After church I played football with Ben. He's way better than me but somehow I managed to beat him. Maybe his tree "defender" was slacking. We also raced down our street, about 100 meters and he barely won. he told me that he underestimated me and wouldn't do so again! he is always making me laugh!
for some reason no one really eats with me. I don't think I have ever seen Uncle los or Auntie Tina eat! And Ben has his own food schedule I guess and Fafa doesn't really like to eat much. I will have to get them to all eat together when I make gnocchi!
Today was our first day at the orphanage. As usual there were a bunch of late people. And we were late coming back too. The kids at the orphanage are aorable! My group taught in the school today. The teacher just gave us some books and told us, "Teach." So we just had to wing it! She would leave and order in the class would slowly disintigrate! I ended up resorting to Simon Says which amazingly worked......for awhile. After, we learned some African dance which was cool. Bada Bada Beh, Be be Bede be. Only about 1/2 of us did it though. The other half was chicken and took photos and videos. When I got back to the road to our house I got to go online for 1/2 an hour and check my email and Facebook and Myspace real quick which was nice! Ben and I went running afterward which was nice to finally get some exercise. I could tell we were getting looks from people, but it felt really good. I think we get along really well and are always teasing each other. The other day he chased me around the yard with dog poop! he threatened to do it again today and I told him I would attack him in his sleep with snakes. Also,
I finally tried Fufu today! It wasn't exactly what I expected but it was good! Really squishy, sticks to your mouth, not much of a describable flavor, but it was good and really filling.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Journal Entry Fri. 7/4/08

This morning had warm cold cereal for breakfast....kinda weird, but ok. They didn't have regular milk so Fafa used the canned cream stuff with hot water. Got to the office early for once! but 5 or 6 other people were late. Grr. We didn't leave until 11:30 instead of 9:30. Went to the first President Kwame Nkrumah's memorial and an African culture museum. The people in our trotro learned not to bargain with the street vendors who came up to the car unless they really wanted what was being sold. When we got back I thought I would get picked up on time, but it turned out that I had to wait at the junction for Uncle Ben. I didn't get there until 4 or 5ish. Then I had to wait with a chocolate/ cell phone credit venodr lady named Ester. I think Ghanaians are the most friendly people I have ever met. Nowhere in the US would a random person off of the street sit and talk and make sure a strange foreign kid didn't get in trouble. Ester was very nice and said she would teach me Twi every morning when I am dropped off there to wait for the bus. (Looking back I never really did talk with Ester again, because we would wait on the other side of the street and often would arrive earlier than her. I wish I had had a chance to talk with her more) After Ben picked me up we met Fafa at her prom. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to change clothes so I went to prom in my capris and Toms shoes and T shirt!! Everyone was all dressed up and fancy and I wasn't! But, it was ok because Erin and Rebecca (my AFS friends) joined us with their host sisters. Pretty slow to begin with becuase there weren't many people, but once the food came out it was good. (now that I know about Ghanaian time....and by the way prom started at 6, we didn't eat til 9:30, and didn't dance until 10. Prom ended at 11:30!!) We finally got dancing towards the end of the night, but not much time was left. The 3 of us got asked to dance, but only for about 15 minutes because the dance ended! All in all it was a pretty good day, minus the horrible prom outfit!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

Journal Entry Thurs. 7/3/08

so yesterday we learned how to ride the trotros. quite an experience, but not hard to do. they're basically just a mini bus/ large van that drives the same route over and over. imagine a large really crappy van with the door partly falling off, filled as full a possible with people, smelling like b.o. and bodies and who knows what else and put it on the indiana jones ride at disney land and there's your trotro experience! They were do-able though...and entertaining. We visited the University of Ghana at Legon with Edmund one of the volunteers and walked the campus. $800 a year for tuition!! we had Twi lessons later...pretty hard to pronounce., hopefully i'll get it later. we also exchanged our money for Ghanaian Cedis. their money is so much cooler than ours. i'm hoping to get some cool clothes made for me here. ate fish head for dinner. not many people tried it, but i like it. pretty fishy, but good. i'm glad the food hasn't been too spicy so far. last night we stayed up pretty late. Taught people how to play Nervous, a slapping card game. talked with people outside our rooms late. curfew is 11 but we were up until 12:30ish.......some of the guys stayed up all night and others til 4 am.

this morning we ate the same oatmeal. this time our alarm worked unlike yesterday. more questions and lessons and twi. for lunch we had some really good chicken and sauce and a big rice ball. we thought we were supposed to ear with our hands b/c there were no utensils. but they came out right after we had already dug in. it was way more fun to eat with our hands anyway!! today we get to meet our host families. I am so excited!!!

got picked up VERY last! had some fast food and met Fafa and Ben and Uncle Los. Haven't met my other family member yet though. i have a good felling i am going to love them!

Journal Entry Tues. 7/1/08

Ghanaian Independence Day

Fricken long 10ish hour plane ride! I tried to sleep, but didn't get much. watched the Bucket List. then got bored so I started a drawing. It was extended into trying to get everyone to draw a picture in my journal. We'll see how that goes.
Got to Accra all in one piece and with all my luggage too! when we got to our hostel we were assigned rooms and then had another breakfas. my roommate is also named Erin....because they did it alphabetically according to first names.
Breakfast= oatmeal: a bit salty and kind of funky flavor, but good w/ cream and sugar and Milo chocolate drink mix mixed in, bread: same old same old, fried egg: pretty much the same as home, but the yolks i think were mixed in

It rained before breakfast and lunch. Actually more like downpoured. we ran outside and got wet.
Lunch= yum! Rice: spiced orangish yummy; chicken: good, spiced greasy; cabbage salad?: like coleslaw; sauce- tad spicey but good
Then we chilled some more and took a trotro to AFS Ghana's new office where there was a party and new president elected. Great food; the shish kabobs were kinda too spicey for me but the egg roll was yummy and gooey. live band playing. we had to wait for the trotro to come back for us because we were the 2nd group and didn't all fit in the 1st one, so we arrived way later htan everyone else. unexpectedly, we all had a blast dancing to the music. the singer was a little short bald man and he came and danced with us. we all did a congo line and big circle mosh pit thing where everyone jumped in to do their own dance moves in the middle. it was quite hilarious! we got so sweaty! we were wearing our semi nice clothes too, so i might have to wash my blouse before i wear it to church! i was on the 2nd trotro back again and almost fell asleep in my chair. took a cold but refreshing shower back in my room and feel...refreshed! time for bed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back in the States

So now I'm back home. I've missed my family and friends a lot. Can't wait to tell you all about everything. Sorry I didn't blog more, but there wasn't much free time to go to an internet cafe, and when i did go to one a bunch of time was taken up checking emails and the like. I think I might go through my journal and publish bits and pieces of it so you can have a taste of what my trip really was like. obviously it won't be in real time, but better late than never right?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

one week left

so this coming week we are going traveling around to some of ghanas major landmarks. kumasi, cape coast and the elmina slave castles. we are all excited to go shopping in kumasi because everything is supposedly cheaper there. this past week we worked at the frafraha christ faith foster home. it was totally different than peace and love, but a good experience none the less. i went clubbing this friday night, which started off pretty weird, but ended up being really fun. i think we might go again next weekend. i miss all my friends and family back home a lot, but i only have a week left and i am going to make the most of it. today i am going to be measured by my aunt who is a fashion designer so that she can make me some clothes. im excited! well i only have 2 mins left on the computer so ill try to write later.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

in Ghana at an internet cafe

so this is my first post actually in ghana. i havent had much time to come and sit at an internet cafe and blog. i have been pretty busy at the orphanage and going places with my family. at the peace and love orphanage and academy we did some teaching and painting and sewing and cleaning. the last day we played soccer with the kids there and gave them a bunch of gifts from everyone. it was cool just playing games and sitting and talking with the kids there.
my family is really cool. i feel like i really fit it well. we joke around and laugh a lot. especially me and my brother Ben who's 15. we always play pranks on each other. i cooked gnocchi for my family yesterday and they seemed to like it a lot. Ghanaian food is very rich and always includes meat. not quite used to it yet since we eat a lot of vegetables at home.
went to prom with fafa. pretty similar to our prom except that people showed up like, 2 hours late. which is a great example of ghanaian time. also went to the market with fafa and met her aunt and uncle. i will have more to say later but ben is reading over my shoulder so i am going to cut it short.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

2 Days!!!

So there are only 2 days left until I leave. I hope I have everything I am going to need. Everything is all in a pile on the floor of my room with my suitcase. I have no idea how it is all going to fit! i leave at 11:55 Saturday night. My friends have told me that they are coming to the airport dressed up in wierd costumes to see me off. Embarrassing? Yes, but I love them so I will just laugh along with it. I would probably do the same if it was one of them going away too.
Anyway. I have tried to call my host family, but have had no success. I have the country code right, but I guess the combination with their number is not working. And seeing as I have no idea what a typical phone number looks like for Ghana, it is hard to distinguish if part of it is an area code or actually part of the whole number. ARGH. I will try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Host Family!!!!!!

Yay I finally got my host family!!!!! They are the Bannermans. Tina (mom), Ben (dad), Louisa (sister 17?), Ben (brother 15?), Patrick (brother 22?), Tracey (sister 18?). They say they like soccer and cricket and basketball so I think I will fit right in with the soccer there! And I am pretty lucky to have 2 siblings that are my age-ish. They have dogs too, which I like, and someone in the family plays the piano, which I used to do! We are oddly similar! Anyway, I am extremely excited to finally know who I will be staying with! I was a little worried for awhile that I would have to live with the program leaders or something. I have a good feeling that this trip is going to be awesome!

Monday, June 16, 2008

12 Days!!!!

As the title of this post gives away, there are only 12 days left until I leave for Ghana!!! Unfortunately I have not been told of my host family yet. I'm hoping that I hear from AFS really soon. I have met our 2 team leaders Robb Hale and Rebecca Messner. They seem pretty cool! I have also met a few of the 40! other students going on the trip. We have been sharing ideas and advice on Facebook, which has been quite helpful. I still haven't met about 3/4 of the people going with us though. Hopefully they will join our Facebook group. This week I have been shopping around quite a bit for things I need for the trip: a nice blouse for church, mosquito netting, sunscreen, an awesome soccer ball for the kids at the orphanage, malaria meds (ugh), light weight pants and a paper back Harry Potter for the kids to name a few. When I packed my suitcase last week with the clothes I figured I would need I surpisingly had a ton of room. Now.....I'm not so sure! Fortunately, a bunch of the stuff I am bringing is either for my host family or the kids at the orphanage or that I can leave behind. I can't wait to meet all of the other students coming with me! The ones I have met online seem really cool. That's all for now. More later.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I leave on the 29th, today's the 5th, that means only 24 days until I leave on a plane for New York. At the airport I will be meeting up with all the other people in the Ghana team mission. We will have an orientation together in New Yorka and then from there it is a direct flight to Accra, Ghana! That reminds me, I need to find a Twi to English dictionary!

Soroptomist International of Woodland

Thank you so much for your extremely generous donation. Along with 5 other donations, it has brought me up to $3,100 towards my trip. I look forward to sharing my experiences with all of you when I return in August.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Around January I applied for a Merit Scholarship from AFS. I found out that I had been rejected a month or so ago, but my local AFS volunteers told me that they would try their hardest to get me a small scholarship. This past week they notified me that they had awarded me a $500 scholarship from the local chapter. This very generous award has now brought me up to a total of $1800 dollars raised towards my goal.