06 September, 2013

Getting Into the Swing of Things: Discorvering Normal Daily Life Amidst a Different Cultural Context

The following post will be a little different seeing as I started writing but didn't finish a single post on more than one occasion. I will edit down my writing from other sittings, to make this post less overwhelmingly large. Also as another note, I will mention those events again, if they come back up, but for now, for the sake of finishing this post I will avoid getting into those unless they are pertinent.

Wednesday August 21st:

This is technically the second week but the first week of classes/the semester.

I am a little tired right now and it is getting harder to get up in the morning, clear signs that my body is adjusting to the time schedule here, which is both good and bad, but something that is unavoidable. I am finding it hard to put into words, my present mood and feelings. It is a mixture of fulfillment and emptiness. I will attempt to describe it as best as I can understand it at the moment. 

I am feeling the disconnect that I often do from those around me. I find myself, not facing issues having to do with being in Ghana, but just the same old issues that I've always had to fight. Part of it is from being away from my closest friends, and not having a lot of contact with them. This isn't a constant or even direct struggle for me, though, it is more of a lack of social connections among the group here, especially with the contrast of having spending a two-week period at one of my best friend's house before leaving for Ghana. That is all I can see of this emptiness at the moment; I will continue to explore these feelings as the next week comes on. Perhaps, I felt slightly more connected to people when we were doing activities as a whole group everyday, and so now, as school is starting, it is easier to spend time in smaller groups, which is wonderful, but I may not have reached a further point of closeness with anyone in the group yet, which could be part of the issue. It may be one of those things that will take more time and effort on my part.

As for the fulfillment, I am loving the courses that I am taking, so far as what I've had at this point which is at least one period of each. I am excited for most of the guest lectures for our Peoples and Cultures course, excited for the African Literature course which will cover both works that I have read before and haven't even heard off, and incredibly excited for the Twi, and African Drumming and Dance courses. I even bought an Asante Twi Bible yesterday to exercise and expand my ability with Twi. I think this is probably the most excited I've ever been for courses. I don't quite yet know what that means for me, but will definitely keep an eye out for dropped hints from above or within(referring to where my soul is aligned with Jesus' Holy Spirit, not my own by itself). 

As I mentioned, before, I am still experiencing that heightened sense of spirituality and closeness to not just God but to his creation. However, I am realizing that certain things are dragging me away from it, subtly, but surely doing so. 1) Using technology more, 2) Participating in purely pleasure and leisure based activities, and 3) Avoiding interacting with Ghanaians by staying in my dorm room. At this point, all I can do is try to be self-aware and work toward finding balance.

Sunday August 25th:

This past weekend was spent in Cape Coast at Brenu Beach Resort. It sounds high and fancy, but in reality, it is a comfortable and down to earth little retreat, right up along the coast. One of my favorite things was the ability to hear, and see through the palms, the ocean waves crashing while up by our lodging.

This excursion was a great way to get away a bit after launching off into our courses, which, while not hard, are very engaging in terms of learning about a different culture through different contexts, whether it be about language, politics, or literature. I also think, it was a very nice way to wean us off of the Ghana "adventures" which we were getting used to with the first week, which was packed full with activities and new experiences. My absolute favorite moment of the weekend, however, was walking, standing, sitting, running, and just being on the beach at night, under the stars and the waning moon, with the waves crashing and washing over and pulling at my feet. It was absolutely beautiful and mesmerizing sight, especially when a little bit of mist/fog rolled in. I was able to just be in the moment, with nature, God, and my own thoughts.

Unfortunately, I did not take pictures during our stay at the beach, other than a couple of a little crab I caught at night on the beach. I decided, it was important for me to take the day truly as a break and avoid trying to capture everything and just be in the mix for a relaxing change.

This morning, I woke up with the sound of waves and natural morning light filtering through my window. I stepped out with my Bible and went down to the beach. I felt like there was just something calling to me, through nature, through my surroundings. I flipped through my Bible and decided that I'd read some psalms. Without thinking I found myself at Psalm 42. "Deep calls out to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me." That is verse 7, at the moment, upon reading it, I suddenly understood this verse, that I have read over so many times, just thinking, "that's beautiful imagery" or "that's interesting wording". But after that moment, I made a personal connection to that verse. I felt the "deep" in nature, in creation, from where God has left his mark, call out to the "deep" within, most definitely a mark of God within me, which was crying out in response the whole time there. I had only then, been able to name it; I found a way to describe the way I was feeling during the day and night before.

Later on, after we left the resort, on our way back to Accra, we stopped in Kakum at the a forest preserve, where we went on a canopy walk, which was fun, and during which I actually took pictures.

Week 3 (Aug26-Sept1):

As we all settle into our courses and life here, I'm starting to realize that life is still pretty much life, wherever it is. A group of our students left for half of the week and weekend to spend time in Adenkrebi, in the Ga East District. It is more quiet in our dorm rooms without everyone around, but it gave us a great opportunity for those of us left in the dorms, as well as those who went to Adenkrebi together, to grow closer together in smaller group settings.

On Saturday, I went with my professor, her daughter, and two other students to see a play by prominent Ghanaian playwright, and theatre producer and director, Ebo Whyte. It was wonderful to experience Ghanaian culture through a part of the "highlife" sub-culture. There is a slightly different dynamic, but all the cultural differences are still there, but perhaps in a different form. One thing I noticed, was a difference in the criterion of comedy. Even though we were laughing the whole time, I had this sense that we were laughing for different reasons. I wrote on this for a journal for a course and will probably expand upon it in this blog at some point.

Another event of interest: Right before the play, we had gone to a Poetry Jam hosted by the National Theatre and took place just outside of the main building. We watched, listened, and analyzed the poetry in form of spoken word, and it was really interesting to see the similarities and differences between the spoken word style of Ghanaian youth and those of the Western world. It was here that I finally got a stronger sense of the melding of modern culture in an international context. Our generation and those even younger are now living in a nearly seamless international, intercultural world, where cross cultural exchange and communication is easy and social media can connect continents not just communities. It's frightening and exciting to imagine the changes in the world and societies in the next couple decades as the current generation steps down and the current youth take the reigns of the working class majority, the chairs of government, and succeed the agency of media and prestige of fine arts.


It is more than halfway through this week, but for the sake of posting the previous two weeks' logs, I'll be posting this past week's thoughts (along with those of the next half week) partway through this upcoming week. We will be leaving for our northern excursion next Thursday morning bright and early. Since I figure I will have a lot to say about that, I assume that will be a whole post of its own.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I love your writing and I love you! Praying for a community to arise around you but also that the Lord would sustain you.