Saturday, February 20, 2010

Recently I went to Kumasi for some In Service Training. Things went well. This is a pic of the whole training group for WATSAN!! We had a good time. Good food. etc...

This is the counterpart I brought to the training. He is great. We represented Jirapa well.

We got to do all sorts of great fun educational/development work. You can see how enthused Richard and I are above. Well...we went to a research institute on livleyhood projects. Like growing mushrooms and pigs.....

All in all a successful training. NEXT I went and helped paint a world map on the library wall of another volunteers site.

And the final product!!

And pounding Fufu. Its amazing how integrated we are right?

So now I'm back at site writing grants and staying really busy and really hot. It was like 115 degrees today. Ugh. I got a fan though so no worries :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Salsa Dancing in Ghana...

Happy new year to everyone! I finally have some down time with some Internet so I'll try to get you updated on my life and activities etc... We are slowly getting into the peak of the dry season which is already really really hot. I miss the green. Sand EVERYWHERE. But I can't lie I'm not missing the snow and cold. So...naturally in this heat my crazy/wonderful neighbor Adam rode his bike like 15 miles to come visit me and get some of the soy milk that a women in my town makes. One of the previous Peace Corps Volunteers actually taught the women's group how to make it which is cool. It has been so long since I've had real milk this stuff is incredible. I'd probably bike 15 miles for it too. Anyway he asked me if I wanted to come help out sometime with a music club him and another volunteer run at a high school by his town. I'm like uh....ya! So we brainstorm a little, trying to think of what we can do and I'm like, "Lets teach them to Salsa Dance!" I know the basic step and a few moves and I'm thinking it's probably something they've never done. Sharing some different culture with the students is always a good time.

The next week we meet up and with the help of a VSO volunteer from Canada we start talking to the 20 to 30 some kids in the club. We had a pretty even split of girls and boys which was nice. So Adam starts by asking them what their favorite type of music is. First and most popular response is....Hip Hop! Then country...but ya. Hip hop. Anyway we're like today we're learning about Salsa music and we're going to learn to Salsa dance. None of them have any idea what this is. We bring out a map and ask them to show up where they think Salsa music came from. After a little while we had to explain that no there is not country called 'Salsa' when we realized that's what they were looking for. I'm wondering as I'm sure some of you might...will Ghanaians be like the average American when at a dance class? By this I mean, the girls will be way better and more into it then the guys. The guys will be nervous about asking girls to dance. Guys and girls don't dance together here, not like this so...Will this be really awkward? Well its almost exactly the same. When we lined them up boys across from girls we had to drag and push them together. Then just like Americans they stared at their feet some not even being able to get the basic step. And then others picked it up really well. The girls loved it. At one point the Form One students had to leave to go get their dinner and the girls wouldn't leave because they didn't want to miss any of the dancing. The boys, uncomfortable with asking girls to dance (apparently this is universal) started to dance with each other (that doesn't usually happen in the US). It is more common here for men to show more affection to other men and women to women than to the opposite sex. But I kept having to tell the guys they needed to dance with girls so they could learn the boys part. Some of the guys didn't understand why they didn't get to spin. I told them they have to master spinning the girls first. The girls seemed to get it a little faster for some reason and only a few of the boys grasped the concept of being in charge of when to do a spin or move. It's interesting to me when its not only a new activity for them but an entirely new concept not seen in their culture. Swing dancing, the Cha Cha, the Tango...all of it new to the Ghanaian high school student.

At the end of the session we asked them what they liked about it and what they didn't like. They said they liked the beats in the music and they liked being able to dance with a partner. Their local dances are done more in groups so it was a new experience for them to do something with each other like that. I only wish they could see some good salsa dancers in action (Ahem like you Miss Kirsten Sims :0). Then they asked for one more song before we left. Overall we had a really good time. I know they have salsa dancing in Accra and the big cities but for the village kids that don't even have electricity in most of their homes this was a cool chance to do something completely different. Salsa dance. Everyone needs to dance sometimes right?