Monday, October 13, 2008


Its just one of those days again....days where things dont really go wrong, but dont really go right either. Things I wanted to accomplish I couldnt, and all I really did was pile on more obligations for tomorrow. Put on top of that the fact that Im aware somethings back home arent going correctly. A part of me is frustrated with the project and the way things are going with the radio research and such. My twi, while I know more than before, which was nothing...its still terrible. I try and try to balance my CDD work with the radio project, and its not quite right yet. Pair that with minor personal frustrations with people and its just no bueno. I sometimes want everything to be under control and things to be efficient and perfect, but Im going to have to realize its not going to happen the way I want it to all the time.

I need some ice cream. Or a shopping trip. Sometimes I wish I could just hop on a plane to go home for some McDonalds and Haagendazs and some good movies.....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


iSo here is my first boxing post. Around spring quarter of my final year, I saw a flyer on Northwestern's grounds for the boxing club. I played sports in high school and due to a busy schedule during undergrad, I rarely had time for organized, normal club sports. (Or maybe I just didnt "make time"). Anyhoo, I'd always been curious about boxing, so I signed up. The first practice was absolute murder. I had been going to the gym pretty regularly, but I wasnt prepared for the type of workout we had on the first day. A ton of jumping jacks, squats and other warmup, followed by a mile run around the block, followed by endless jumproping and THEN we worked on punching technique. After that were more drills with the bag. Absolutely nuts.

But you know what, I went back. Most of the girls had dropped from that first session. But even though the workouts were intense, I really wanted to learn what this sport was about, and why I was so drawn to it. I ordered myself a pair of pink(!) boxing gloves and wraps and signed up for the club. Its a shame I was a senior. I really wish I could have had the time to train and to have competed.

To me, boxing is a pure sport. It taught me a lot of lessons in life. First off, it seems to be a sport that is more about discipline and mental toughness than one might think. Boxing is tiring if you arent in the right shape, and its easy to want to give up on hitting a target when your arms are dead tired and sweat is stinging your eyes. I dont know how naturally gifted I am technically when it comes to boxing, but the one thing I have going for me is that I hate giving up for any reason. You have to be sharp because unlike other sports that have all sorts of safeguards against players causing injury to another person, in boxing, if you take a hit to the face, sucks for you because you didnt guard yourself well. You take your licks, and learn to keep your hands up next time. Boxing is a pure sport because you dont have the added bells and whistles of special equipment, balls,fancy venues, rinks or courts, or teammates that get in your way. All you have is you against the other person. Its an intimate activity, in a sense. You study how the person moves from right to left, where their weaknesses are, where their strengths are. And be sure, they are studying you. Your sweat is on them, theirs is on cant get much closer than that. Its fascinating.

As for being a girl with boxing, sure people dont believe I really like boxing. "Its so violent!" or.."Your pink gloves are so stupid!!" But believe, those are the same people, both guys and girls, who come up to me like....."Can you teach me a few things?" or "Hey, lemme try on the gloves!" As a girl, it sort of teaches me that its okay to sweat and work hard and try something different. Sure it was awkward having to spar with guys. But more so because I wanted to do well...I didnt want for the boys to "take it easy on Peaches (my nickname) because shes a princess". I wasnt there for the aerobics. If I wanted cardio, I would stay home and pop in a Tae Bo DVD. I wanted to learn to be a fighter.

Boxing is super confrontational, and there are a lot of times in life where I hold back from asserting power, whether that be in taking control of my own life, or even in the ring where at first I was reluctant to hit hard. But again, boxing has taught me that its all about balance. You dont spend the whole fight swinging as hard as you can every chance you get. Youll get tired and weaken yourself. You have to mix in some quick jabs to conserve your energy and keep your opponent at a distance for a time. Just some lessons...

Here in Ghana, boxing is huge. Ive made it my secondary, or maybe tertiary goal to do a little investigating of my own as to what it would be like as a girl to train here. I see that here, almost absolutely no women box. I brought my gloves, Im super serious. My goal is to find a place where I could train, and write about how they react to me there, and whether this plan will work at all. So far, Ive heard the boxers train in Bukom, a slum not too far from Accra. The only issue is, im not sure how, uh, safe it would be for me to go there on my own. Also I heard that the boys can be a bit rowdy. I'm brave, but not completely nuts. But I will keep yall posted!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Back from Tamale!

Ive been gone to the Northern Region for the past few days on a work trip with the CDD. From Accra to the North is 10 hours of driving! And thats making good time. The thing is, the roads can be bad, accidents are frequent, and the lack of adequate lighting makes travelling by night a poor course of action. For this reason, its very common to have Ghanaians who live in the South all of their lives and never make the trip up North to Tamale, Bolgatanga, and the like.

The stereotype about people in Northern Ghana is that they are violent, aggressive people who are not too enlightened about what goes on in the South. And it is true that so far, the few bouts of political violence occurred in the North, in Tamale and Gushiegu. And it was in the North that people advocated for phone ins to be banned in 2004 during those elections. For my trip, I was helping to educate the Northern journalists on how to cover the elections peacefully. We briefed print and radio journalists on conflict reporting, issues of good governance, and economics. It was a successful turnout, and I am working on the report now.

Speaking of reports, Im starting to feel a bit....taxed. My project alone is a lot to think about, and now I find myself working on a lot of other things with the CDD. Tommorow, for instance, I have to do a report from the weekend, finish working on the account budget, work on a newspaper monitoring assignment, and then potentially work on something for the Election Watchers here at the CDD. Jeez. I may take some time off to really refocus myself and think about how I want to spend my time here. Im a people pleaser, so sometimes its hard for me to say no when Mr. XYZ needs help with something in the office. But at the same time, I have a Fulbright project to do. The last thing I want to do is feel burnt out by the experience. I didnt travel across the Atlantic to be stressed out! I can do that very well in the United States!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Photos! Wait just kidding.

So I thought that blogger would let me upload the photos, but the connection is super slow. Anyway, yesterday was a holiday so I went to the beach with one of the Fulbright teachers and some of his friends. I'll tell you, swimming in Accra is not this leisurely floating-while-sipping-a-mai-tai-and-reading sort of thing. The currents are strong, the winds were high, the water is murky and the waves were coming right after another. Even if an experienced swimmer is out there, the water would be sure to have its way with you. Its the kind of oppressive water that will knock you off your feet, knock you into people, and will knock your suit right off. The water just......knocks!!

Back to work! (Yeah, Im at work right now!)