Monday, July 28, 2014

Shopping Saturday: Our day trip to Accra- Nikki Bush

This week in our service site at Challenging Heights we have been working on our reading assisting with children in the library at the school. Now that we have completed the advocates program we are developing a daily routine for our time we spend serving. Fellow GVSU student Paige and I spend our mornings in the library presenting a PowerPoint to small groups of teachers on three methods used in the United States to teach reading in elementary school. So far the feedback from these presentations has been extremely positive and we are looking forward to more interactions with lower elementary teachers at the school. For the rest of the day we assist students with their reading in the library. This involves us sitting one on one with students and hearing them read out loud, helping students understand the context of words or how to pronounce words they do not know, or picking books that are just right for the student’s various reading levels. We are becoming more familiar with the students in each class and look forward every day to interact with them more!

This weekend we made the decision as a group to utilize our free days and head back to Accra for a day of shopping and adventures in the city where we started this amazing trip. The morning began with 14 excited ladies ready for a day of fun! Fellow GVSU student Kali happened to bring some cds that were popular when we were younger (this included, to name a few, “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson, “Metamorphosis” by Hilary Duff, and a Dixie Chicks album) and we had a major jam session on the way there.

By the time we got to the arts market we were fully prepared to take on the merchants with our newly acquired skills in negotiating and a few Fante words (most importantly the word for no, dabi). We pulled into the parking lot and much to our surprise there were only a few people scattered about. This reassured us that we made the right decision in making this the first stop on our day trip. Many of us got into smaller groups to weave through the aisles of wooden crafts, paintings, fabric, jewelry, and more. We came to the arts market with the intention of buying all of our souvenirs that we have not had the chance to purchase so far. With a little extra spending money from our leaders, we also had our eyes peeled for things that we wanted to take home for ourselves to remember this trip. We were given about two and a half hours to make our final purchases and head back to the bus.  By the time we had to leave, everyone had armfuls of things they had bought for presents for themselves and also to give to their family and friends. Some common things that were brought back were backpacks, wooden animals, Ghana gear, and paintings. The energy was extremely high and everyone was talking over each other, trying to describe what they found and how many cedis they had spent.

After the arts market we made our way to Global Mamas, a non-profit and fair trade organization that allows women throughout Africa to make goods and become financially independent through the sale of their items. Everything throughout the store was beautiful and the prints were so unique. My favorite print I saw in the store was red with big sunflowers stamped on it. There were so many things to buy and it was so hard to decide on what to get! To check out more or even online shop here is the website:

Some of the amazing prints Global Mamas has to buy all sorts of things in!

Since the first half of the day was spent shopping we quickly were hungry and ready for some food at Frankie’s! We had been to this American/ Lebanese restaurant the first week we were in Accra so most of us knew what we were going to order. It goes without saying that since there were milkshakes on the menu almost everyone ordered that to drink! We were also excited to get our American food fix before heading back out to continue our day. While we were there we ran into the other group from GVSU that is currently in Ghana who stayed in Cape Coast for four weeks on a different study abroad program. Sadly, they were eating their last meal in Ghana and were heading to the airport that evening. We collectively agreed that we were not ready to be the ones to leave this place we now call home! Thank goodness we still have some time before we have to be the ones to say goodbye!

The restaurant where we ate lunch, Frankie’s!

Some of our GVSU students walking around Accra!

We stopped at the Shoprite grocery store after we finished our meal. There were some last minute snacks that we felt the need to pick up as well as some essentials for the rest of our meals in Winneba. After only spending a small amount of time there we made our way back to the bus to head home.

One of our friends from Challenging Heights, Brigitte, told us about a place called the “Circle” and described it as a market that featured cheap shoes, movies, and seasons of tv shows. Since it was on our way back home to Winneba we thought it was necessary to stop. We were given only 45 minutes but in that short amount of time we got some great deals! Most of us walked away with a movie or two to watch once we got home for only 3 cedis a piece!

Throughout the week some of us girls have been communicating with our Fante teacher from Accra, Charles, about the fact that we would be in town. He told us in the morning that he had pulled a muscle and couldn’t walk around the markets with us, which was disappointing news since we missed him so much. But while we were at the “Circle” our Ghanaian leader, Samuel, got a text from Charles saying that he was planning on hitching a ride back to Winneba with us to tag along on our trip to Cape Coast the next day! We were ecstatic and when we saw his grinning face walking down the street towards the bus we couldn’t help but to yell and wave out the window to him! We had a lot of catching up to do and Charles made sure he asked every student on the bus what they have been doing in Winneba at their respective service sites. The rest of the car ride was spent time singing our hearts out to some more classic pre-teen music.

Fellow GVSU student Erin brought up a good point during the day that even though we all went shopping together we still didn’t know what each person had bought throughout the day. In order to showcase our purchases the first thought was a show and tell to present our items. This event quickly expanded and turned into an open house style demonstration of our things. When we got home everyone was asked to put their new purchases on their beds and then as a group we would walk around and look through all of the items. It was so great to see what everyone got and get some ideas on other things we might still want to look out for to get for ourselves or as gifts for others.

Although we are sad it is already one of the last weekends we will spend in Ghana, we are so thankful to have bonding moments like these to solidify our relationships we have with each other in the group. The shopping was fun but the little moments in between are the things we are going to remember the most when we get back home!

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