Monday, October 11, 2010

The Ghanaian Spirit

A Ghanaian Party in Michigan with the KNUST Exchange Students

It has been almost two months since my return from Ghana and my daily routine has completely changed. I'm no longer waking up with the sun at 6AM, walking into the bathroom with excitement as running water is usually flowing in the mornings, saturating my skin with bug spray, and then running downstairs to buy a bag of oats (oatmeal packaged in a plastic bag for easy eating) for breakfast before heading to the Kejetia tro-tro station to catch a tro-tro to a district hospital.

My days are arguably now much less exciting. The luxuries of hot water, 24/7 internet, and my car don't make up for the fact that I now spend most of my time rooted in one position in my apartment studying. With this dull routine to look forward to, it's not hard to imagine that my transition from Ghana back to the US was...traumatic.

On my first day back, I probably spent over half of the day just pacing around my apartment staring at my unpacked suitcases and trying to recalibrate my reality. How do these pieces of Ghana fit? I oscillated between bursts of meeting with med school friends to isolating myself in my room staring at pictures from Ghana while listening to "hiplife" music. However, whenever I was with friends, all I could talk about was Ghana. As one of them joked, I'd become the "official spokesperson for Ghana." But where are my Ghanaian friends? Where are my European IFMSA friends?

Slowly, the regularity of my class schedule forced me to readjust. Though, I found myself naturally gravitating towards anyone in my class who had ever been to Ghana. Just talking about our shared experiences of sitting in tro-tros, eating Fanyogo to stay cool, and taking malaria prophylaxis filled what felt like a gaping hole--a phantom limb, perhaps?

After just two weeks of navigating this awkward limbo of feeling like an exiled Ghanaian, I received the perfect remedy: Ghanaian exchange students from KNUST in Michigan! We met almost every weekend for about three weeks. While I'd like to say that I was showing them the best Michigan had to offer, as foreigner to Michigan myself, I was experiencing many things for the first time with the Ghanaian exchange students. We made jollof rice, red red, ate Chinese food, went raspberry picking, went to a Southern BBQ, watched movies together, played Cranium, and even did a little Ghanaian dancing.

After spending the last two months trying to redefine myself back in the US, I think I've realized that I've been forever changed. The ordinary little details in my life from the food I eat to the medicine I study all seem to bounce with an added rhythm and sparkle more vibrantly-- move with the Ghanaian spirit. I went to Ghana, became a little "Ghana Wild", and have brought it all back with me to the US. And I'm sure it'll keep my life interesting.

Thank you to my Ghanaian mentors: Dr. Kwabena Danso, Joseph Adomako, Dr. Henry Opare-Addo, and Kofi Gyan for this memorable summer opportunity. And thank you to all of the KNUST medical students (special shout-out to Ernest, Nelson, Cashito (Edwin), Mawusi, Prince, Mabs, Lydia, and Ron) for so warmly welcoming me and filling my summer with smiles and laughs. And a special thank you to Kwame, Yaa, Lily, Lenina, Deli, Space, Millicent, and Naomi for bringing Ghana to Michigan.

I will be updating the "Eva Ghana Wild" blog less frequently moving forward, but will continue to blog regularly at the IHI Open School Blog and the University of Michigan IHI Open School Blog. Please look for me there!

For those of you in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan will be celebrating "50 Years of the Peace Corps" this week with a Ghana Symposium on Thursday. Come to the Union to check it out!


  1. I am glad that you had a life changing experience in Ghana. It is true. When you come back to the US after having life-altering experiences abroad, it is hard to adjust, but it just makes you see how much you have learned and grown. I love you! Great blog posts!

  2. Nadia nadia.berger@gmail.comOctober 12, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Hi Eva,

    I came across your blog as I was looking for more information on the Project Fives Alive program through the IHI. I spent time in Ghana last year as well and know exactly what you are talking about re: readjusting to life here in north america (i am in toronto.)I also work in healthcare so this was very interesting for me to see how methodologies we use here are being applied over there.

    I really love to learn more about the you know where I could find more info about it?

  3. Hi Nadia,

    Thanks so much for your comment. You can find more information about Project Fives Alive here on this post here, which has other links to more information. I hope this is helpful and thanks again for reading!

  4. Great article....!!!Nice to know about new things with helping concept.