words by Katrina Cantwell
photos by Austin Hicks
Media in Ghana 2017 had our final group meeting before we start the adventure of a lifetime together. Instead of having our normal class session on Thursday, everyone going on the trip (and a few others) gathered at Leslie’s house on Friday night for a pizza party. The party provided a final opportunity to discuss logistics related to preparing for our departure. Leslie told us to pack our antimalarial medication in our carry-on bag in case our bags get lost, something I personally hadn’t even thought about! She also reminded us to pack our mosquito nets and lots of bug spray – showing us her Costco sized package of mosquito repellant.
Additionally, students who took the Twi language class (including myself) had a chance to showcase their skills at the party. Students prepared skits of different scenarios such as finding a tro tro or making a purchase and performed them exclusively in Twi. Esi Thompson, a doctoral student and the SOJC, the Twi language tutor, and a Ghanaian herself attended the party and brought props for the skits such as Ghanaian money called cedi. Eric Adae, a doctoral student at the SOJC who is also from Ghana, attended the party as well. The look on his face as the students spoke Twi with each other showed great pride.
After the Twi skits, Leslie handed out a packet of numerous symbols that are widely used in Ghana and their definitions. We learned the symbols can represent anything from religion to personal values, and are commonly printed on cloth or carved into furniture. The use of symbols is a defining aspect of Ghanaian culture and new symbols are recreated all the time. Eric and Esi confirmed the value of the symbols in Ghana and Eric mentioned that some businesses adopt a symbol for branding purposes.
Eric and Esi also provided some insight regarding religion in Ghana, explaining that people tend to be much more religious than what we typically see in the United States. Esi mentioned that different forms of Christianity are the most common, but other faiths like Islam and traditional religions exist peacefully alongside Christianity.
As the party came to a close, the excited energy in the room was tangible. We looked around the room at each other and the reality that we will all be in Ghana together in less than two weeks hit us full force. Equipped with insight from our Ghanaian friends, new language skills, and of course Leslie’s guidance, we are ready to begin a journey that will change our lives forever!