My first full day in Accra was Monday, March 5. There were many firsts for me on that day besides the obvious ones: first time in Ghana and first time on the continent of Africa, that I felt would be interesting to share.
1.) After a morning class on the history of Ghana given by our education consultant, Ekem Amonoo-Lartson, we headed to a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Accra. This was my first time at an embassy. The meeting included a few embassy officers and several Ghanaian teachers who have participated in IREX programs in the U.S. The embassy representatives were incredibly gracious and the teachers were wonderful to meet. They had a lot of information to share about their classrooms here and their experiences in schools in the U.S.
2.) One subject that typically comes up in any discussion about international travel is food. All of the Ghanaian teachers who spent time in the U.S. mentioned the leaves they were served with their food in the U.S. This was an absolute first for me. Whenever I've heard people talk about American food, vegetables are scarcely mentioned. I'm much more likely to hear about the pizza, the hamburgers, they huge portions, the cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, Twinkies, etc. but I've really never heard about the large number of leaves and other green things being served at most American meals.
Johnson, you asked whether Ghanaians love to eat American food. One teacher said he was not excited about the leaves at first but eventually enjoyed them. I have only seen one American fast food restaurant here, Kentucky Fried Chicken and it was not very crowded.
3.) Monday evening, we were treated to a performance by a Ghanian dance group, Saakumu Dance Troupe (www.saakumu.com). The show featured traditional music and dancing from several ethnic groups represented in Ghana and a few other West African countries. The group provided literature that listed their U.S. performances; they've performed in several states including mulitple Minnesota locations. The literature also described their performances as "highly participitory" which brings me to another first, dancing with a professional dance troupe. My dancing in public is my daughters' collective worst nightmare. Theirs was an incredible performance and even though my dancing is painful to watch and think about, it was really fun. Here is a short video of the professionals.
4.) March 5 is my daughter, Quinn's birthday. Her ninth was the first birthday that I've missed. I know that she was excited for me to have this experience but she really felt like leaving Tuesday was a better option all the way around. Happy birthday Quinn, we'll celebrate when I return.