26 Aug 2011 – Last day of COS(Close of Service)

It’s with bittersweet memories that I end my service with Peace Corps. I am now officially called an R(eturned)P(eace)C(orps)V(olunteer) but as I am still in my country of service and not returned to the USA I feel like I am in limbo. Georgette says it’s like Peace Corps Purgatory! Now I am an American tourist in Ghana. Weird feeling I must say. Already the prices seem cheaper than when I was a PCV!

I didn’t have much to do today – an exit interview with the Country Director, Mike Koffman, a meeting with Bob Gingrich, the Administrative Officer, and I collected my travel reimbursement for coming here.

During my two interviews I discovered that what I felt was my greatest accomplishment happened in the toughest part of my service.  When asked by both the CD and Mary Norah I felt that working with Eric Mintah and transfering my skills and knowledge to him was my greatest accomplishment. He was my co-teacher at BASCO.

I’ll close this post with a picture of the memorial rock they painted for me at BASCO.

 

RPCV

Vicky Chase

25 August 2011 – Worth a thousand words

The window in the male slaves dungeon at Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, West Africa.

 

View from one of the Governer’s 4-6 bedroom windows at the castle.

-vc

Sometime in August – Kumasi Suboffice

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps and because Ghana was the first country to have volunteers on the ground PC is sprucing up the offices. When I visited the Kumasi Sub-office for the last time this month I saw the great murals that fellow volunteers put on the walls. Here they are!

24 August 2011 – Second Day of COS(Close of Service)

The second day of COS was relatively painless.  At 8:00 am I had my physical. Then ate a yummy breakfast of yogurt, fruit and fibre, hot chai and bread with real butter. Then I met for an hour with Mary Norah, my direct boss in the education sector of PC Ghana.  After that Beryl offered to have a driver take me to the Motorway Extension Branch of Barclay’s so I could close my account. So very nice. Customer service certainly has improved in the Admin department since my group COSed last summer.

As I was close to the Mall I decided to see if I could find Brittany, who had gone earlier. I failed to find her but decided to eat and take in a movie. I had a chicken sandwich, cole slaw and french fries (which they insist on calling chips). Bad Teacher, Horrible Bosses and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were playing. I choose “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. (trailer) I thought a trip to the mall would help acclimate me to American culture!

I am very sorry that I didn’t take my camera with me but on Saturday I am taking a 4 hour guided tour of Accra and will have plenty of pics to share with y’all.

Back in the good ole USA in 8 days!

-vc

July sometime – Kumasi

I visited Kumasi one last time and took these pics.  I always loved the brick Wesleyan (Methodist) Cathedral  in Kumasi – so happy I could get some photos. In most cities in Ghana the traffic circles are great places to find public art. The man standing on the lion’s back depicts a Ghanaian proverb or story but I don’t know it – Yet. When I do I’ll share. Last some street shots of vendors and traffic. And last the Military Museum up near the clock tower and Opoku market.

 

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Wish you all could have been here with me!

-vc

23 August 2011 – First Day of COS (Close of Service)

I am in Accra staying at the Peace Corps main office here. Slept in a cool and quiet room last night; it was a good night!

First on my list of things to do for COS is to have blood work and test on other samples. Did that this morning. Then I headed over to the dentist. On my way to the dentist I passed Danquah circle where I stopped to take a few photos of the sculptures in the circle.

 

 

Ate at one of my favorite Accra restaurants today for lunch.

 

 

After lunch I went to the bank and waited 1 hour to find out that I needed to go to the office where my account was opened to close it! AAAAAGGGHHHHH

Then I did what any self respecting frustrated woman would do  – I went shopping!  Went to Max Mart and bought cheese, butter – real salted butter, sandwich meat, cereal, yoguart etc for meals while I am here COSing.

I am avoiding talking about BASCO because the relief I feel because I am no longer there makes me feel guilty. It was a tough road. Glad my Germans were there, Luise, Werner and Johan, to laugh and cry with me.

11 days to Houston!

-vc

12 July 2011 – Elliot Bawing

How ICT(Information and Communications Technologies) Tools are Making the World Smaller

 Left to right – Elliot, Vincent, Cahteriner, Dorcas

The invention of computers has contributed to the world becoming smaller. This is because computers help us to send and receive messages. Now a days, people hold the world in their hands. The computer also helps us to get to market our business on a network called the internet. You can also make video calls and chat with anyone from a different continent.

Also, the introduction of mobile phones have made the world smaller. Someone will ask why? this is because the mobile phone is also an easy way to access people all over the world. You can also send text messages and make a video and take pictures of people you like. You can us the mobile phone to browse the internet and for entertainment such as music, listen to radio etc.

The invention of the video cameras has also united the world and also helped in making the world smaller. The video camera takes pictures of people and loved one. It also stores videos of the past like the late Kwame Nkrumah and the independence of Ghana and Nelson Mandela of South Africa. The camera also passes videos and pictures through a wireless connection. And this helps to make the world smaller.

The introduction of radio has also made the world smaller. This is because the radio helps to transfer information all over the world. You can get information about what is going on at another country. You can share your views on matters concerning you or your country or other countries like Cote d’voire and the Libya crisis. And also for advertisement and listening to music.

The invention of television has also contributed to the world becoming smaller. Someone can ask how? This is because the television sends news live in your room. You can even see your favorite personalities interviewed right in front of your eyes. The 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP was shown to you right in your room as if your were at the place. You can even market your products on the television.

All the above points contribute to the world becoming smaller. Now you an get access to anything you want because the world is now in our own hands.

Bawing Elliott

Form 2 (Grade 8)

BASCO

Trotor, Ghana

Elliott is one of my favorite students in this class. He came the second term and his desire to learn made him stand out the first day he was here. He came to me and asked for notes for the two weeks he had missed. His essay also reflects some of the things Werner and I talked about in the class but I was impressed with his inclusion of world events like the Libyan crisis and Cote d’voire. He was one of the few students who tried to write a summary paragraph. Last his handwriting is neat and easy to read. Because mine is so terrible I always admire neat handwriting and as a teacher I love it when I don’t have to battle with the handwriting to understand the concepts written down.

-vc

12 July 2011 – Dorcas Tetteh

 

Glodies Traditional Restaurant

Left to back – Werner, Derek, Eric Mintah, Francis

Right to back – Dorcas, Catheriner, Vincent, Elliot

Through the computer we can have  easy communication because we can chat with our pen pals, relatives etc. A digital camera helps us to send pictures of ourselves, perhaps the person we want to communicate with has forgotten us. News – people communicate on the radio and this is how they do it. Maybe a radio presenter wants to talk to an M.P. (Minster of parliament) he/she will communicate through the radio.

We can share experiences through the radio, for example. A radio presenter will bring out a topic then he/she will give a telephone number. Everyone will call and bring out his/her opinion about that topic. Through the DVD player we can share our experiences. Maybe new album is out. We can express our ideas on television. A question will be asked and maybe I will call and answer it and win a prize.

Radio can help us to spread information in a fast and easy way. eg. maybe my brother is lost so I will go to the radio station and tell them my story. They will make an announcement for me. A printer can also help us to spread information through the newspaper, magazines. The more people that buy them the more the information is spread. Television also helps us to spread information through the news.

Dorcas Tetteh

Form 2 (Grade 8)

BASCO

Trotor, Ghana

I was very happy with Dorcas’s essay. It is by far the best essay I have ever had from a female student in Ghana. Yes her grammar, spelling and sentence construction need some more work but her ideas were completely original. She really thought about how ICT(Information and Communications Technologies) tools can make the world smaller.

Although she didn’t  have an opening and closing paragraph like we talked about in class she did use her outline well. She had three areas she wanted to discuss – easy communication, shared experiences and fast spread of information. 

-vc

12 July 2011 – Vincent Nyadedzer

ICT Tools are Making the World Smaller

ICT(Information and Communications Technologies) Tools have helped us to communicate more easily. Chatting through the compute allows us to chat with people all over the world. Through the use of ICT tools now you can send emails on the computer to another person in USA. You can also use the computer to send pictures, videos and music to your friends. If has made the world smaller because you can even communicate with your friends and family even when they are not close to you. Through the mobile phone you can also communicate with your friends if they are outside the country.

 

Eric Mintah, Vincent Nyadedzer

They have also helped us to share experiences. Through the use of satellite you can watch the world coup together even if your mom and you are not in the same country or if you are far away from the host country. You can even get information from on the radio of what is going on in another country. At the same time if our mom or dad is in another country they will also get the same news. The the use of these things the world is becoming smaller.

ICT tools have helped speed up the spread of information. Through the use of the internet you can send information to people when something has just happened. But in the olden days you would have to write a letter on paper, walk and give it to the person. Through eh use of phones you can send messages to your friends outside the country. But in the olden days you needed to walk before you could give the message to the person. Through the use of a PA system it allows people to know what is going on in the town if a person is far away. Today the world is in a computer age because the use of computers, radio and phones are everywhere and this has made the world smaller. Even now if you are holding a phone or sitting bet side a computer the world is in your hands.

ICT has effected my life because now I can talk on the phone to someone and feel like I am physically talking. These tools have also made my communication very easier and faster.

 

Vincent Nyadedzer Kwabena

Form 2 (grade 8)

BASCO

Trotor, Ghana

Vincent comes from a middle class home. He has had access to computers and internet in his home for a few years. He’s very good with computers and taking a special computer class with my counterpart, Eric Mintah. Vincent listened well in class when I invited Werner for a discussion of how ICT tools helped him to stay in touch with his family and know what is going on in Germany. His essay reflects some of those ideas.

2 July 2011 – Metro Mass Transit(MMT)

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The intersection near Adome Bridge in Atmpoku, Eastern Region is a very busy one. It’s on the main road from Accra, the capitol of Ghana, and Ho, the capitol of the Volta Region. Because it is a main thoroughfare I was able to photograph many aspects of travel in Ghana just by hanging around the traffic circle near the bridge.  I will put some photos along with a brief explanation in the next few posts. This post will be devoted to the Metro Mass Transit)bus  buses A.K.A Kafour buses because President Kafour started the program.

I have a love hate relationship with MMT. It was on a Metro bus that I first traveled to my beloved Sandema. It was just after sunset when we crossed the border from the Northern region into the Upper East. The light made the trees along the roadside look like eerie dancers. In was in an MMT bus that I first saw the new green grasses blowing in the breeze across the vast expanses of the savanna. The first year the Metro bus was my main form of transport from Sandema to Bolga where I could connect with family and friends on the internet. I have had so many great conversations traveling on these buses For all these things I love the Metro Mass Transit Buses.

But I also sat on a full MMT bus in Bolga station for 30 minutes in the noon day sun waiting for the driver to come from who knows where. We had already sat for 1.5 hours waiting for this bus to Tamale to fill. Once, in Sandema, I paid the fare of one of my students. I was sitting near the door when he came and handed the conductor a 5 GHC bill. The conductor shouted that he should have correct change and that he could not get on. The boy started to leave but I handed the conductor the 30 Pesewa to get to the school.

Stopping a regulation bus stops or anywhere else along the route was at the whim of the driver. The MMT petty despots of the kingdom of their route.  At least 5 times in two years the MMT into Sandema drove right by me and others waiting for to go to town. This was always so disappointing but even more so after I had waited up to 2 hours for transport into town.  The regulation is that the bus will stop anywhere along the route to discharge passengers. But often the crys of” Bus Stop” would go unheaded by the ruler in the driver’s seat. At the stations they entered the bus on their own mysterious time tables. Many came 5 to 10 minutes after the bus filled others kept hot passengers waiting more than 30 minutes.

Their were two MMT buses that ran between Bolga and Sandema. They had no set schedule when they entered the station they would sit until the bus was full.  The only scheduled departure was the first bus of the morning at approx. 6:30 am a metro bus left each town, from then on it was up to the fates when the bus would arrive or leave the station in each town again. The time between Bolga and Sandema was also flexible. One time the bus sat in Navarongo, the biggest town between Bolga and Sandema, for 45 minutes while goods were unloaded. As I mentioned before the bus can stop at any place along the route to pick up or discharge passengers so this also adds to the flexible drive time between the two towns. I should have also added this to the love section because really many people had no other from of transport so it was a gift that the bus would stop near their village or settlement.

For most of my first two years, until Metro Mass Transit allowed advance purchase of tickets, If I wanted to travel a long distance I would have to get up hours before the bus left to wait in the dark in a long line. For example, if I wanted to travel from the Kumasi suboffice to the Tamale suboffice I would have to wake up at 3:30 am so the taxi could get me to the MMT station by 4:30 at the latest for a 7:00 am bus. Even when I arrived at 4:30 the line was already 20 people long. Once the ticket office opened there were always those few people who thought they were better than the rest of us and would cut while someone was buying a ticket. I learned to spread my elbows out, put my bag on the shelf on one side of me and to use my body to shield the other side while I was buying a ticket. I blame the ticket sellers. The  people waiting in line would complain and shout at the interloper but the ticket seller just went ahead and sold the self important man his ticket.

Once you had your ticket you had to wait for the scheduled leaving time, or the whim of the despotic driver, before you could even load your luggage in the luggage bins. (That’s why Lenore and I were a bit confused when the bus in Burkino Faso started loading luggage 30 minutes before the time we were scheduled to leave!) I usually travel light so I can carry it on to the bus with me and not fight the masses putting my luggage in the bins.

oh but then getting on the bus is often on big shoving match. Here I also blame the conductors who are checking tickets. Why don’t the make people form a line? I have to say that I have gotten ruthless getting on buses Ok so maybe I don’t punch anyone but my elbows are bent and spread on either side to make me as large as possible. When the conductor is checking my ticket I stand with one leg so someone would have to step over it or trip to climb on the bus before me. On time I slid myself in front of a man who was trying to cut in front of me and he said to me ”Obruni, what’s the matter are you worried you won’t get a seat?!” Who was cutting in line?

Once I got on the bus, there usually was plenty of room for my backpack, my legs and my ample bottom – a large improvement over almost any tro tro but not as good as the STC buses The people and things that came onto the bus were very entertaining. One time coming home from Bolga a man brought three bright blue plastic lawn chairs on to the bus, He set the stack down in the aisle and sat on the top one. Women often offered me a seat beside them on their bag of corn they were bringing to market. Live chickens and goats were carried home from market.

Passengers shouted encouragement to the drive to get moving. Sometimes they chided him for his reckless driving. They chastised each other as well. Once a drunk was trying to have a political debate with anyone who would take the bait. And when a rude arrogant man offered to give me a black baby the women all joined me in telling him “You are NOT correct!”

I have seen so much of Ghana on the big orange buses that I have to conclude that the relationship is more love than hate.

-vc

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