Monday, September 29, 2008

Sorry, its been a while...

Its been a while since I updated, partly my fault, for Ive been super busy. But also BLOGGER"S FAULT, since it deleted my post >:(. But a lot has happened in the past week, being my first week at the CDD!!

I love it so far. I really like the people, and Ive really come to realize that I've been blessed with this opportuinity to work with the media Monitoring project. In a nutshell I get to travel with the Media team to different parts of the country to train the journalists on covering more political issues more effectively with the upcoming elections. Last week, I was in Accra. Yesterday evening, I traveled to Ho in the Volta region to observe the presentation the CDD gave to the journalists this morning. It was quite nice, having an all expenses paid trip (hotel/food) to go and do research, in a sense. I took notes on the proceedings, and I will spend tomorrow, a holiday (Eid al-Fitr, I think?) typing the notes. This Friday, I will make a looooong trip all the way to Tamale to do a workshop for the media there. Ive never been to the North before. I hear that the North is a completely different world than Im used to here in Southern Ghana. Its about to bne a real eye opener.

Outside of work, things have been good. I hang out with the other Fulbrighters, going for dinner, concerts with the Embassy and the diplomatic contingent, plays, shows, and the like. Ive found a gym, so I can keep in shape, which is nice. I'm slowly getting used to waking up hella early like everyone does here.

So far, no marriage proposals coming my way, haha.

Otherwise, I have been keeping a close eye on whats going on in America. All these banks are falling like a house of cards! I often find myself fielding questions about what is going on with the banking crisis, especially with the people I work with in the media. "How did this happen?", "How will this affect Americans?", "Is this because of greed?" Questions like that. I also field a lot of questions about the elections. Of course, if Ghana could vote in the US elections, its easy to think who would carry here. I field a lot of questions/comments like, "Why do Americans like ignorant people (referring to Palin)?", "Are there still racists who wont vote for Obama?", "Obama will be much better for America, he is an inspiration, a sign that Americans arent stuck in their ways!" I know that if Obama doesnt win, or if the vote is really close, I will have to answer a lot of difficult questions. But I do the best I can.

This Fulbright thing is shaping up to be more fun than I expected! I'm really picking up some of the language, getting used to the food, learning my way around, and making a lot of new friends. Now that I'm figuring out my schedule, Ill send more updates.

Hope all is well with you guys!


PS Omg, pictures this week, I PROMISE!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

lots to think about

its been a crazy week. Well kinda.... I met with my friends from Citi FM this week to say goodbye to my friend benard from last year, who hosts the award winning breakfast show. He left for the UK today. But I did get a chance to meet the new host of the show. Hes been quite nice, and hes taking me to see a comedy show at the national theatre in a couple of hours. Fun times!

My mom and I bought a cute little green car and hired a driver for transport. A car, a used one, is around 6000 dollars, so its not bad. But now Im having second thoughts about riding around in a hired car all the time. This is the first time ill be LIVING here. Whenever we come, theres a certain shelteredness and isolation we have when I travel with family. "Dont go out! Its not safe!", "Ghana is dangerous!" This is coming from my mom. While I acknowlege that you do have to be smart about your affairs, this time I dont want to be housed in when I stay home, and shuttled around when I want to go out. I want to explore Ghana by myself, to really be immersed in the culture. I mean, thats what i did in Spain, right?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Second Week

Allo allo! I tried to post yesterday, but my time at the internet cafe ran out. Booo. But here begins my second full week in Ghana. Im pretty much over the jet lag, and so far I am concentrating on solidifiying what my schedule will look like for this project. I went to the Center for Democratic Development today and guess what? I start work at 8 am sharp next monday! Its looking like I will be working with their media and governing sector. Pretty excited about that. Im also pretty excited about the fact that Ill get to catch up with an old friend, Benard Avleh from the Citi FM breakfast show tommorrow. Hopefully he can catch me up to speed with whats been going on with the radio since last I left. That way, I can adjust my project.

The election season is crazyyy. The race is on between the sitting NPP party and the NDC, the party of the last president. Every newspaper, every radio station is sort of doing a double task, urging the public to remain peaceful and calm, but at the same time, these media outlets are still publishing unsubstatiated rumors and inflammatory remarks. I hope that things will remain peaceful for sure. I'll try to see if I can get to some of the political rallies/peace marches. Pray for Ghana!

Things I'm not excited about: Ummm.....well...1) No matter how much I try I cant get to liking Banku. 2) The Mosquitoes 3) The mosquitoes, 4) the mosquitoes 5) Random electricity/water shutoffs 6) The fact that Im eating wayyy too much 7) Missing Gossip girl...

But these are all minor things, lol. I think this is going to be a great trip. I think Ill stay with my family, despite my previous reservations. I thought that I wanted to be on my own, to have my own space, but really its good to have people around who I can talk to and ask questions about how to get around. In Ghana, it seems its all about having people around you can trust when youre an obroni like me (Yes, Obroni is not just for white people, its for people like me as well...more on that later).

On another note, I brought my boxing gloves. Ghana is known for its great boxers. I wonder if they will let me practice at one of the gyms. Women dont really fight here, so maybe men will think it it a side project if you will.

Thats all for now!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Ghana!!

Hi all!

I'm finally in Accra. I arrived late sunday, after taking a plane from Dallas to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Accra. Wasn't a bad flight at all. Being the impatient one that I am, I sort of convinced the officer in the immigration/custom line to let me through the Diplomat line to go through customs, teling them I was "with the Embassy". Which I was, right? Kinda? Okay, not really. But it worked!

The next day, I went with my mom to the embassy to be briefed on some matters like visas and permits and such. This is probably the first time Ive ever gone to another country and gone to the Embassy. This is definitely the first time where Im constantly reminded that I'm on an American program in Ghana. We are expected to attend Embassy events and connect with the expat community and such. Its kinda cool, puts a different spin on the experience. At the end of the month, all the Fulbrighters will convene for a more thorough orientation.

I havent really delved into my project yet. I'm waiting for a car, then I will hopefully be able to start next week at the CDD. So far this week, I've been taking everything in, and hanging out with the family and cousins. I'll have plenty of time to run around doing my project. But for now, before they are off to school, its nice to hang around and talk to everyone.

Oh and I'm learning Twi! Slowly but surely!

I'll try to post as often as I can, but Im finding out that I dont really fancy sitting in front of a computer all the time. That post about being addicted to internet? Yea, I was wrong. Real life is so much better. I'll try to post pictures too. Luckily there is an internet cafe across from my house. Hope all is well with everyone in the States. I took a moment to remember Sept 11th this morning, and I hope everyone did the same.



Saturday, September 6, 2008

"L'Ultima Notte"...(The last night)

This is it.

This is my last night in the States for a while, y'all. Today, I finished off my packing, took the car in to get serviced, and made sure everything was closed with my U.S. accounts. Ive been cleaning house for the past couple of hours, taking a break to eat (sushi of course) with my dad for the last time for a while.

But I cant go to sleep. My flight leaves in 12 hours. All of a sudden, I feel out of sorts. It doesnt make sense. Ive been to Ghana several times. Ive done research on this subject before. I have plenty of family over there. I have plenty of support, and really, a year isnt that long. And dont get me wrong, I thank God everyday for this opportunity.

But I cant help thinking sometimes, "What the heck am I doing going halfway around the world?! How did I get here?" I'm scared. Of what, exactly, I dont know. In many cases, this will be the first time I'll be on my own, and there are certain decisions I am facing that I have to deal with. But I have faith that Ill be able to dig deep and have a great time and learn a lot.

But I will miss everyone soooooooooo much! Scratch that, I already miss people, especially my pals/girls/partners in crime at NU, and the CES crew in DeSoto (I put on for my city), you guys are my <3.

If youre out there, and youre reading, leave comments or shoot me a message! I love to hear from yall and I hope you keep up with my adventures in Africa!

xoxoxo Karen

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And on another Note


"US Confirms Incursion into Pakistan"

Lord, help us all. This would be major news if it wasnt for Palin's speech, right? this the true reason why Bush and Cheney stayed in Washington? *SMDH*

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

3 days left....Why does the Republican National Convention make me want to Leave the US sooner?

Hey lovelies,

So I have a few days left in the US of A. Three to be exact. I find myself in a weird place emotionally with the departure. On one end, I find myself reminiscing about college, and about the good times I had at Northwestern with my friends. I'm going to miss the late night heart to hearts, wasting time in the Library, spending way too much time in the Black House, the Foster, Noyes, and Davis El stops, and Sashimi Sashimi. I find myself looking at my old coats and thinking that I'll even miss the winters (gasp!). At this point, Ill have to adjust to being without the more, uh, shallow things in life, like Gossip Girl and America's next top model, and Sephora. I should live, right?

But watching this Republican Convention I realize that both Ghana and the US share one thing:


I dont know if any of you watched the speeches tonight. Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin both delivered speeches that went heavy on the attacks on Obama and his experience. Giuliani said, and this is not a direct quote: "Here we have a gifted man (Obama), Ivy league educated, and he goes into community organizing?!" * Laughs derisively* The audience also begins laughing.
Palin threw similar barbs concerning Obama's service in South Side Chicago.

This is probably the first time where I have been furious as a result of politics and inflammatory rhetoric. I took the words personally, to heart, as if someone had insulted me and what I believed in. If it was not for Fulbright, I would be a community organizer, with the Chicago Federation of Labor, a position was excited about! How DARE THEY! My stress response levels still havent come down. My cheeks were burning! What was going on?

To a certain extent, I understand why politics can cause so many problems in other parts of the world. After watching the speech, I was furious with the Republicans. I felt my mind morph into an Us/Vs them mentality. I couldn't help but think that these people were against everything I stood for, which is social justice, anti-war, and diversity. So I gathered my weapons and fought back. Meaning, Im blogging, AIMing, Facebooking. I'm voicing my discontent online. In other parts of the world, Ghana included, people resort to other means. Violent political rallies, jailings and assasinations can be the fallout from politics in other parts of the world. Usually we think that its underdeveloped, barbaric nations that resort to violence during heated political times.

But sitting here, listening to some of those speeches, I wished I could deliver my pink gloved left hook to some of those right wingers.

Politics, like religion, can stir up something deep within us. Both say something about the fundamental way we organize our lives, how we manage resources, how we manage our bodies, our property, and how we manage ourselves in relation to others and society. I regret that we in this country have succumbed to partisanship, the exact thing that George Washington feared when delivering his farewell speech. After the speeches today, I see that this election will be nasty. Whoever wins and is sworn in in January, there will be a lot of hurt feelings to assuage. It makes for great TV and media coverage, but I dont know if this is what is best for the country, such divisiveness.

Looks I have another angle to view the Ghana elections with.