Sunday, June 20, 2010

Making Friends in Ghana

Before getting into the thick of things, let me first say that it is so refreshing to log into Facebook and see people talking about normal, mundane, every-day things. It seems funny to me now that I used to make fun of Twitter and status updates for their irrelevance. Now I can do nothing to hide my excitement over listening to and reading every small detail of the going-ons in America - anything to feel connected and normal.

Our training has officially begun, which means that we've split off by sector and - having learned our site assignmens two days ago - our site-specific languages. It's become quite normal to re-organize our worlds at the drop of a hat, but it hasn't made it easier to deal with friends being stationed somewhere far away. I had a small moment of panic, learning that my site (in the Upper East) was one of two in the region recieving new volunteers from our group. After such an overwhelming first twenty days in Ghana (and plenty more to come until, at least, August 12), I was finding it hard to see the trees through the forest. If I'm being honest, I haven't quite recovered, but I spent the morning reading letters from my family and friends - the letters that remind me why I came and why I'm capable for this job - and I'm feeling much better ... much more grounded.

It's really a slippery slope we walk - it's not that we're alone, it's just that we're very seperate. This is a feeling that most of us have never really felt, a part from being independent and comfortable as individuals, willingly sending ourselves into a foreign land is such a startling experience. You really can't do much to prepare. This morning I found myself feeling completely inadequate in any and all conversation regarding Twi. Forgetting completely the magic words, "Be patient with yourself," I began to feel some self-doubt leaking up under my springs. It isn't that there aren't plenty of people offering help and guidance and friendship. The people here are so welcoming and willing to teach. It's not that I'm not totally open to what I've gotten myself into. I'm taking all of the opportunities thrown my way to interact and enjoy this awesome experience, but sometimes it's still really hard to find the tiny Thomas the Train in my brain.

I only really feel alone at night underneath the Mosquito-net, when the sounds I'm still getting used to are surrounding me on every side, and the darkness curls into the window like a sheet. And I suppose 'aloneness' isn't really all that bad, but knowing that I'll be alone for most of the next two years is surreal. I still cannot believe that I've gotten myself to Ghana. This is all so strange to me, that I'm sitting smack-dab in the middle of one of my biggest accomplishments to date. Even stranger is that my family is so far removed from the experience. It makes me feel stronger, but slightly discombobulated. Like my umbilical chord is stretched too thin.

Now, I don't mean to make anyone think that I'm not enjoying myself. I'm just working through some of the first feelings at the moment. I'm sure there will be fountains of them to come. For now I will tell you that my homestay mum is a jolly woman who I am sure is plotting ways to MAKE ME FAT. She also had me eat an ENTIRE pineapple today after eating lunch because she knew it was one of my favorites. She laughed when I told her I would explode if she kept trying to feed me so much. The kids at the house are sweet and love playing frisbee. We watch lots of football and everyone loves to watch my reactions, laughing and slapping their knees in response to almost anything I do. I'm actually okay with the fishbowl situation here, it keeps things interesting and keeps me as grounded as I can get.

There is so much to write about, you have no idea. Including a two day hiatus in the Sick Bay at our training site (anyone else thinking Star Trek?) ... The other PCTs were betting back and forth whether I had Malaria or not, it got so bad. Apparently I was the only one on my side: I WIN.

As for now, I have a sensative stomach that grows suddenly shy around latrines (you have to be here to know why). Coca Cola is my new favorite treat, even though I hated how sweet it was in the states. I am currently bombarded with random obsessive thoughts involving Pringles and Chewy granola bars - even though the latter hasn't touched my lips in years. My Malaria pills makes movies obsolete when I sleep because my dreams are AWESOME. My old roommate was glad to finally have a room to herself at homestay because I didnt chatter at her all night long. And goat bleets are possibly the best random comedic relief you could possibly have ANYWHERE.

I suppose I should sign off for now, next time I'll try to be a little more organized (though no promises ... something tells me my organisational skills are about to go right out the window), but I am hoping everyone is well and have officially clocked 20 days as a Peace Corps Trainee! Please be sending letters. I may not get them quickly and my replies may take even longer, but like I said above: there is nothing more relaxing than to hear about the normal stuff I'm missing back home. Below is a temp address, I will post the permanent address when I get it:

Emmaline Repp, PCT
Peace Corps Ghana
PO Box 5796
Accra-North, Ghana
West Africa