So, it’s been a while since I actually updated you all on how things are going here. The last time I actually talked about work-related things, they were less than perfect, but on the mend. Well, things still aren't perfect, but they are certainly better than what they were.
The last week has been filled with multiple in-school workshops about pollution, plastic waste and club formation. These have been interesting, as I am becoming far more comfortable in the role of facilitator/presenter, and seeing the difference from school to school has piqued the interest of my inner-researcher. So far (as we still have several more of these workshops to complete), I have noticed mostly that afternoon sessions involve more yelling from us and less focus from students. To any former teachers/professors that may be reading this that had me during an afternoon class where I was unfocused and failed to participate (even to the extent of showing signs of life) – I am sorry. A new appreciation has been gained.
On Thursday we traveled to Asamankese to support our partner there in the HIV/AIDS testing and counselling event. This was … well, I’m not sure what the word is. It was held at a P-9 school, and I had to give a talk about STIs without any preparation. This uneasiness was amplified as I assisted in the condom demonstration, by holding a wooden penis that was so detailed it was almost disturbing, whilst a crowd of 6 or 7 year-olds sat to my right, just wanting nothing more than to listen to the white people talk. And yes, David, since I know you’re thinking it, my face reached multiple shades of red…
On Saturday we visited a cocoa farm. It was really neat to see how it is grown, fermented, and then dried. The fruit surrounding the beans was delicious and tasted slightly like mango. We were even able to try a few of the beans, which tasted like a bitter, dark chocolate. Also, fun fact: the husks and rotting beans are what are used to make soap, lotions and other beauty products!
Afterwards, I met with a few fine gents to discuss a project we are working on outside of my volunteer obligations. I’m not going to share any details on this, as nothing has been made official yet, and I want to make sure that things are in place before I let you all in on this. But, I’m kind of excited about this side project!
Today (Sunday), I attended the church of my program coordinator. This one was of the Presbyterian variety, and I’d like to entitle the following paragraph as “Why I Could Never Be a Church-Goer: Round 4.” I’m not looking to have a religious debate here, but the church that I went to when I was a small child was quiet and reserved; peaceful even. While this particular church was not the experience I had in my first week here, it certainly wasn't the calm, relaxing one I was hoping for. Listen, to be fair to William, he told me there would be music and dancing. But, when I think of dancing during a church service, I think swaying back and forth to the rhythm of the music. What I don’t think of is pelvic thrusts and booty pops. To make matters worse (?) the music reminded me of a cheesy 1980s game show, with the dance moves of Soul Train! It was weird. There was also a lot of touching throughout the service. Shake hands here, hold hands there, hug everyone, and now get out! I know it meant a lot to sir Billiam that we all went, as it did when I went to the other two churches of people I know, but I just don’t get it. In particular, I don’t get the over-emphasized plea for money! At one point, the minister/pastor/whatever interrupted the session we were in, with “okay now, let’s talk about money!” Weird. Weird. Weird.
But, that wasn't even the weirdest part of the day. Jenna (a fellow volunteer) and I went for lunch. This marks maybe the 5th or 6th lunch I've had since arriving 2 months ago (that’s right – I arrive in Halifax one month today!). We ate at a place we went to one of the first days we were in Koforidua. I went with the intention of having my favourite local dish called Red Red (because half of the plate consists of something that is red, and so does the other half), but I saw a club sammie on the menu and thought - I must eat this. So, I ordered it. Now, I know what you’re thinking – how could this simple thing possibly go wrong? Well, I’ll tell you. It came out on a plate. One piece of bread cut into four. In the middle was a hay-stack of cabbage, onion, carrot, chicken, backed beans, ketchup, mayo, and a boiled egg. Weirdest combination ever, and yet, it was pretty good. I mean, the boiled egg alone was enough to make it a win. The ketchup thrown in there on the other hand was… not something I would ever desire to do again! But, what can you do. I happily ate it and enjoyed the visit with Jenna!
Well kids, it’s now time to transition into the next and final tale to tell. It’s about that time I was slated for deportation. To be fair, this would have been (and still kind of will be should it happen this coming weekend) welcomed. After some miscommunication from a particular colleague, our applications could not properly be processed, due to a missing letter I had requested several days prior. And Emily. Threw. A flipper. That’s right, folks. At 29, I pretty much threw a temper tantrum – the result of being over-tired, suffering with the usual consequences of straying from my allergy-friendly diet, and an overwhelming bout of missing my Mom and therefore grieving. Tomorrow I will attempt (for the third time) to get my Visa extended, and if not, I’ll see ya’ll next week! But to leave you on a positive note, I channeled my anger/upset into the first run I have completed in over a year. Okay…so by run I mean, I ran maybe a kilometer with three walk breaks and then walked the rest of the way home, only to wake up the next day with a knee so sore I was instantly reminded why running with good shoes is so important!
So, that’s all for me! I’ll try to write again soon…unless I’m get sent home, in which I’ll be visiting you all soon!