Hello blog readers!
I will start by warning you that I am not an avid blogger, but I’m going to do my best! I have been living in Ghana for one week now. It has been a whirlwind of emotions and new experiences. I met two of the three girls on my project in the Accra airport (we kind of stand out) the third member had arrived one day earlier. All of the girls on the project are great and I feel like we have become so close in a short amount of time. We all have different backgrounds and life experiences, but I think we really complement each other and will make a great team!
I have done some travelling in the past, but my trip to Ghana has been a different type of experience. Rarely have I felt the impacts of the cultural differences quite like I do in Ghana. A big part of this can be attributed to staying with a host family; we have really had an opportunity to see how Ghanaians live. We have washed our own laundry by hand, watched our host mother cook dinner over hot coals in her backyard and helped take care of the energetic toddler in the home.
The collectivist culture is very apparent in everything that we do, something that really stood out for me during the YCI orientation was one of the staff members saying that “In Ghana, your identified community members are the first responders to any type of emergency”. In Canada we have a sense of safety, because we know we can call 911 and we should receive quick and adequate service. For this reason, not everyone in Canada feels responsible for helping others. I really feel like the Ghanaians have accepted us into their community’s and treat us like family, although we are very different.
When entering a different country especially to do development work, I think it is important to be culturally sensitive and aware. The orientation given by Youth Challenge International has been very helpful in making us feel comfortable in Ghana and giving us the tools to be effective in our work. We just started working on our projects this week, so I don’t have too much to share. The topics of our project are Malaria prevention and entrepreneurship and micro finance for young women. I am really excited about the topics and can’t wait to get started!!
– Kayla Szlovicsak, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2013