This blog post will be about a few things that I’ve adjusted to since I have been in Ghana. When I first got here, I felt completely out of place because I simply didn’t “fit in.” I didn’t understand the language, I used my left hand to greet (which is very offensive) and I couldn’t properly pronounce any of the Ghanaian names. Now, I’ve become so used to the different cultures in Ghana, that the differences aren’t as apparent. Here are just a few:
- Food: What I eat in Ghana is completely different than what I eat in America. For one, their food is way healthier. Everything is organic, so the people do not consume unnecessary hormones when eating. Also, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, Oreos and other things that are filled with sugar aren’t really the first choice of food for people in Ghana. Most of them enjoy fruits, such as paw paw and watermelon. There are a few sweet snacks that are popular with the kids, but generally speaking, the adults don’t eat too many sweets. To add, people rarely eat desert in Ghana. I’ve been here for about two months and I only had desert on one occasion; when I went to a birthday party. I’ve definitely gotten used to the eating habits here and I think I’ll continue some of them when I go to the U.S. For example, I only drink water everyday… no matter how hard I tried, this is something that I haven’t been able to do throughout my whole life back home.
- Greeting: Every where you go, you must “greet.” Greeting means saying “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening” to the various people that you come across. At first, I would just say “hi” when I saw a stranger in passing. I got different responses from this, some people would give me a weird look, others would just laugh, and some would respond loudly with a “HELLO!” I quickly discovered the word “hi” is normally used to get the attention of a group of people. Now, I only use “hi” in school when I am trying to quiet my students. Eventually, I learned that it is better for me to greet a person according to the time of day that it was. I also greeted someone with my left hand before. This is very offensive in Ghana because when you are a young child and you are taught to wipe yourself with your left hand when you go to the bathroom. Therefore, you do nothing for another person with your left hand in Ghana. For instance, you should never hand a person money with your left hand, they won’t take it.
- Family: The different cultures in Ghana really strive to create a familial environment. So, calling people who aren’t really your parents, “mom” or “dad” is really common in this country. For instance, when I walk around my dad’s neighborhood with him, everyone calls him dad. One day, I asked him about thi s and he told me that he treats the whole neighborhood like his family. If anyone was to need anything, they would know to come to him because he is a representation of their father. Also, the director of Mawuvio’s outreach programme is called “Auntie Renee,” this shows that the students respect her but they have a sort of affection for her as well.
- Names: One person may have a multiple names in Ghana. They can have an English name and a couple of Ghanaian names. At first, I got confused by this because sometimes I wouldn’t know who was being referred to because they were being called by a different name. After a while, I began to understand that it was the same person. I even learned that I have a Ghanaian name as well. Sometimes, you are given a name based on the specific day that you were born. Since I was born on Saturday, my Ghanaian name is “Ama.” Most people call me by my first name but sometimes they ask me for my Ghanaian name as well.