Global Service Scholar: Centeera Plummer
Upon arriving in Ghana, I have been most surprised by the extreme levels of poverty. The differences in day-to-day living in Ghana compared to California are like night and day. And the overwhelming feeling I felt initially when I first witnessed this has stayed with me the entire trip. A moment for me that served as a wake-up call was when I went to shower and a small stream of water poured out and it was ice cold. Before arriving to Ghana, I obviously knew that we weren’t going to be living a life of luxury; I knew that things would be different and my comfort would be sacrificed in many ways. I just wasn’t sure how my comfort was going to be sacrificed.
The aggressive, hustling culture in Ghana was very different for me as well. I’ve been to downtowns in California where there’s lots of hustle and bustle, and everywhere you turn people are trying to sell you on whatever they have to offer. But in Ghana it was different; at a stop light, the streets looked like mini parades. There were people with baskets selling anything you can think of– from plantain chips to socks, ice cream or scarves. No place was off limits when it came to making a sale. The people would walk directly up to your car and tap the window to try to sell things to you. The hunger that people had there to simply provide for their families was inspiring, but also saddening because for some of these people the livelihood of their families depended on their ability to make that sale. It was also sad to see the young age of some of the children who were on the streets and selling items. Plenty of children came to me and would put their hands to their mouths to signify that they needed water, and some kids even asked me for my empty water bottles. I learned that asking tourists for empty water was a way that the children were able to make money, through recycling, I assume.
I’m looking forward to learning more stories about the people that are from here so I can learn more context about the culture. Obviously Ghana is an impoverished country, and maybe I’m just experiencing culture shock. But I feel so curious. I want to ask everyone here about the practices that are so intriguing to me but for them is just life. Seeing small children be so independent and having much more responsibility than the children back home is just so interesting to see. I feel like the children back home are seen in some ways as incapable of many things, and that’s the reason they are shielded so much. But the children here are just much freer in that they are subject to fewer limitations, but not free considering the reason they have responsibility at such a young age.