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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Learning to travel, teach, and even treat patients in Ghana!

I am happy to say that my sensory overload in Ghana has since composed itself into a nice cognitive framework from which I have effectively learned how to travel, teach, and even treat patients in Ghana. When my studies came to a close and I bid farewell to the group at Legon, I felt ready for a change of pace. What a change it was! I arrived at the pre-primary school and the headmistress showed me the class and said, "Ok, teach." I looked at twenty of Ghana's most energetic five year olds and thought, "Teach what?" Since the children were about to graduate up to primary school, I could teach them whatever I wanted. Class quickly evolved into hours of me providing constant entertainment with new learning songs, counting strips, story drawings, and reading books.

The proprietoress of the school encouraged me to leave at lunch so I arranged an afternoon volunteer at the children's ward of the nearby University Hospital. My tasks included taking children's vital signs, holding down the squirmers during medicine dispensation, and talking with the kids to take their minds off of being sick. Most of the children were in the hospital because of severe diarreah or malaria. It was interesting to watch the dynamics between the children and their parents, the children and the nurses, and amongst the nurses.

After volunteering at the school in the morning and the children's ward of a hospital in the afternoons, I took a week to go visit '04 Scholar and current Peace Corps Volunteer Hannah Frank. Her site is in Fulfusu, also known as Damongo Junction, a village of 5,000 without electricity or running water but 4 cell phone towers. Her primary project is guinea worm eradication and if you want so see the water source and her work, check out her blog at http://hannahefrank.blogspot.com/.

The coolest day of my entire trip was the day we went about making yam fufu and lite soup. We hop on a tro tro to get to the market in Buipe so we can buy the ingredients for fufu and lite soup: yams, tomato, maggi seasoning, and a chicken. On the way the tro tro stops, some men have a short discussion and then a cow is led over to the back of the vehicle. The back seat is taken out, lashed to the roof (next to a goat that is already up there), and the cow is more or less shoved into the boot of this tro. Everybody climbs back in and at one point the tro carries a cow, goat, sheep, and 19 people. We collect our ingredients from the market, giggle at a sign that reads "NO NAKED flames," then head back to Fulfusu to make dinner. Fufu is made by peeling and boiling the yams until they are soft and then pounding them until they become a sticky lump of starch. The lite soup is more or less a tomato soup with some seasoning and lots of pepe (pepper). The live chicken became delicious chicken soup thanks to the men of the compound teaching us how to kill, pluck, and cut the animal. High school biology has nothing on the slaughtering process. Every step of the way the anatomy of the chicken was explained and I could even see the formation of the eggs in the chicken. We shared the food with the entire compound and stuffed ourselves.

Hannah and I traveled back south to attend the swearing in ceremony for the new group of Peace Corps Volunteers. Afterwards we then went to visit Hannah's cousin who volunteered at an orphanage and invited us to see the closing ceremony. We bummed a ride back to Accra so that I could easily catch my flight the next day.

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