One week down...
Dave, Steve and I have collectively traveled over four days, taken five flights and visited two other countries before arriving in the Abetenim Arts Village. Dave and I first traveled to Accra and met up with his cousin Henry, who gave us a tour of the city and introduced us to our first taste of local Ghanaian food. Red Red with beef, I'm telling you it's absolutely worththe try! Steve landed in Accra later that night and met all of us out for some beers and dancing. Although short, the time spent in Accra was a great start to the rest of our trip.
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We grabbed a flight from Accra to Kumasi the next day, where the final stretch was a drive to the village, which was filled with horns blaring, people making their way through the cars selling goods and sights and sounds for all senses. The three of us arrived at the village on Saturday afternoon and were swarmed with children interested in seeing who we were. Probably the most surprising were the young boys who quickly picked up our huge bags above their heads and helped us to the rooms. Everyone we meet has been welcoming and eager to teach us their language.
Sunday we spent the day checking out projects in the arts village and meeting the other teams that are currently building. Some of the other projects that will make up the master plan include dorms, a workshop, other classrooms, a clinic, and a library. It was great to see how far the overall project has come and the potential it has to continue growing.
The official start to the workshop was on Monday, and before we were allowed to do any work it is customary to meet the chief of the village. We brought a gift for the chief too, a NYCFC hat and scarf as a thank you for having us. Traditions and respect run deep in this community, so to be accepted with good wishes for a successful project was important and meant a lot to us.
Once we started measuring out the site to fit our project we had already encountered a problem with the size of the classroom. It was too small for the given program and the location, so right away we had to adjust the design. It was our first look at how flexible we have to be to make changes to the project that can occur at any stage of the build. No actual construction had even started and we already spent a late night working.
With that taken care of, the first week of construction got started. Our current team consists of 12 volunteers from Germany who are eager to work and get dirty. And with the deep red dirt in the area, everyone gets dirrrttty. So far we've moved some dirt from the site, dug the trench for the foundation, and moved more dirt. The next step will be to build the formwork and pour the concrete foundation.
The volunteers are part of a collaboration program with the organizations AIESEC Germany and PwC, and come from all over Germany with different educational backgrounds varying from information systems to history and economics. The differences in the team create a learning experience for everyone as well as a fun dynamic of personalities. We honestly couldn't be happier with the team we have so far.
Outside of our busy construction schedule there is some down time to relax, travel, and experience the local culture. The first weekend here we watched a soccer game between Abetenim and another local village as well as played some of our own games of soccer with the children. Having the opportunity to experience and live in another country for a long period of time is pretty amazing. Visiting local markets, seeing how people live and learning some of the language, I feel, gives you a deeper appreciation for other cultures.
The grand finale of the week was the guys' accidental adventure into the jungle...a drone flight gone wrong. This past Sunday, Steve decided to give his drone a flight test around our construction site. Let me tell you that surrounding the site is jungle and more jungle. After a few minutes of flying, the drone started to get further and further away until he had to crash land it. I couldn't stop laughing as Dave and him braced the spiders and mosquitoes to get the drone back; and of course I stayed back to record it all to retell the story later (check out our Instagram page for the video).
With twelve more weeks to go there's sure going to be a lot of stories to tell...
Word of the Day
Medase (thank you)
P.s. For volunteers joining us over the next few months, any questions about hostels, transportation - the village or contact information can be emailed to us. If you're still interested in joining the team, you can check out the website (architeach.org) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone is welcome!
We will be posting weekly about the project as well as insights on the culture, people, and travel tips. Keep up with our adventure by subscribing this this blog and checking us out on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @architeachure.