Nate Morawetz is probably going to be the best thing for this planet since elephants. He is going to be such a KICKASS environmental engineer. He has more friends that Kanye West follows on Twitter (I know, right? Damn!) He is one of the coolest people I know. He's already ROCKED his first semester at UVa and he's about to ROCK another. Can you believe how fast it's gone? Faster than that loading bar THAT'S for sure. But seriously, I better be getting that movie.
So many people care about him and he cares about so many people! What a beautiful exchange! He's smart, sarcastic, ironic, corinthian, doric and all around ballin.
First president with the last name Morawetz? Preliminary polls seem to say so!
Seriously, I'm glad I got to know him this summer and I can't wait to experience more of #natemorawetz when I get back from Ghana!

Why am I not sitting on the Golden Stool at this moment?

Ending our second month in Accra, we have begun to address in our workplaces what we will probably look back on as our essential project. Henrique has begun his work at DAI. Lindsay has begun working at "Prison School," (no, not a school comprised of juvenile delinquents but a public school situated within a prison compound). Cam has started to accumulate a regular list of physiotherapy patients and Pallavi is attempting to organize a fundraising campaign for Street Girls' Aid. At Nubuke, I've just finished work on my second exhibition, a "History of 19th Century Gold Coast," which will be mounted in the first week of November. I will begin working at the Autism Center in November and then will only be spending one day a week at Nubuke. I have also been attempting to get into contact with the human rights lawyer, Nana Oye, who has been pretty outspoken about gay rights in Ghana. If I can, I really want to be involved in some small way.

The theatre project that I had attempted to organize in public schools had not seen any further fruition since my last post. While we've gotten the approval of basically everyone in the chain of command that we require to begin, we've still been told to wait for further meetings, discussions, and letters to be convened, had and posted at an undisclosed date amongst, regarding and to persons yet to be determined.

Ruby, Lindsay, Pallavi and I went to the beach and I am happy to report that none of us returned with hookworm! Though, the saltwater did not make my hands, chafed from scrubbing my clothes for three hours in a bucket of rainwater, feel any better. This past Sunday, the Bridge Year group took a trip to the Volta Region to see the largest waterfall in Ghana. Besides the three-hour trotro ride, which induced the first case of car sickness that I've ever suffered, it was an amazing trip. We managed to hide Cam's birthday cake all the way up to the falls (which is more a comment on Cam's observational prowess than our ability to hide things) and we celebrated his birthday under the cool mist and epic butterfly population of the falls. This coming weekend we will be taking a trip to a nearby village for its annual bead festival. It's our first overnight trip and I can only imagine in what state (with respect to geckos) I will find my room when I return...

We've all been able to immerse ourselves in other activities here after work during the week and, at least I believe, it's helped us to feel more like we belong here and less like we're just passing through. Pallavi and Lindsay have been taking dance classes; I can't wait for their recital! Henrique just finished work on a drum that he's been building for the past two weeks. Cam has been training in physiotherapy outside of work so that he can be more helpful in the ward.  The first production that I've been helping with at the University of Ghana is about to be staged. I came in pretty late in the rehearsal process so I'll just be running lights but I'm really excited to begin working with the director on her next piece so I can be involved from the beginning and hopefully be able to either assistant direct, stage manage or BE IN IT! (I can imagine that one random obruni on stage might detract a little from the overall effect of the piece, though.)

The piece that we'll be staging Sunday and Monday of this week is called Moremi, and it's the story of a Nigerian warrior queen who led her difficult-to-pronounce tribe to victory over another equally-difficult-to-pronounce tribe. What I've learned: theatre people are theatre people no matter where you are. The first day I attended a rehearsal, we began by playing "Big Booty" to warm up and ended with the director giving notes like, "I'm NOT telling you this again, PROJECT" and "UPSTAGE UPSTAGE UPSTAGE." The light booth is a little... less than modern. So far only one light is attached because the rest have been moved to the other theater for a production closing on Saturday and that one light essentially has two settings: off and on, if you hold the plug in with one hand, press together two wires coming out of the back of the lightboard with the other and cross your fingers REALLY hard with the other. It should be a really great production though, and when I get the lights reinstalled and maybe some electrical tape, I'll be able to focus less on where the hell I'm expected to produce a third hand from and more on how amazingly the cast and crew are performing. Break a leg!

We're fully immersed in the meat (sorry Pallavi) of this first half. We've made friends; we've become competent enough at our jobs to actually accomplish something. Some things are hard. Some things are fun. Some people are difficult. Some people are really welcoming. Sometimes we get frustrated. Sometimes we actually feel useful. Basically, we're living life. Not as tourists. Not as Americans. As human beings in a place where maybe it's a little bit harder to live but where life is nonetheless lifey.

(no subject)
"I HATE ROOSTERS." If my day doesn't begin with this observation, then it certainly will with, "THERE'S ANOTHER GECKO IN MY ROOM." It's not as if either of these statements comes as a surprise each day, simply that each and every day they become more conspicuously true. Although, to say that my distaste for roosters is relegated only to the morning is to say that roosters only crow, squawk and bleat in the morning.

Which is false. 

Cease, Cows, Life is Short!

The Ghana group is about to close its first month of the journey but to myself, and probably everyone in the group, it feels like we’ve been here for much longer. Not to say that we’re weary of the journey to a greater extent or that we don’t get stared at like we just landed and climbed out of our spaceship. Simply, we are now so deeply immersed in our life here that it feels just so: like this is our life. We have our daily routines, we’ve become friends with our coworkers and neighbors, we’ve established answers to questions like “do I flush the toilet in the morning or at night?” and “this meal is for three people, right?”

Since my last post, my original family had to decline my placement due to an emergency and so I was placed with a new family (whose name I can neither pronounce nor spell). This family consists of a mom and dad, four sisters (1, 9, 24 and 26 years respectively), a brother (23), and various others who pass through periodically. I have not one but TWO dogs and a number of chickens whose ranks seem to depreciate in synchrony with those days on which we have chicken for dinner… My house, I have deduced from a series of calculations involving the amount of time and number of trotros it takes for me to get anywhere, is on Mars. It rests in some sandy crater that is populated with other houses, a pharmacy, a very pungent bar and a grocery store run by very nice people who refuse to believe that the expiration date on food is anything more than a suggestion. (They really are very nice though.)

I have been placed at the Nubuke Foundation and my main job consists of compiling photographs and interviews on the art community in Ghana. I am currently pioneering a secondary project aimed at developing an art curriculum in public schools. I met with the district commissioner and he gave me the green light so starting next week I’ll be visiting various schools and pitching a curriculum based loosely on the movement and expression exercises of a theatre class with other craft projects as supplements to that major project. My hope is that this project will culminate in the production of a play the students have written themselves. Eventually, I’ll take on one class and that will serve as the pilot of the program. Cam has been placed at Ridge Hospital where he works as an assistant in the Physiotherapy Department. Pallavi works at Street Girls Aid and has probably the toughest job of all of us (as I found out yesterday when I shadowed her at her work due to a power outage at mine). Lindsay WILL be working as a teacher in a public school when Ghana opens them again (after postponing their opening to complete the national census). Henrique works at SISS (don’t ask me what that stands for) and is currently writing 10-12 page applications for grants for their training programs.

While there’s no denying this is an immense challenge, and one that presents itself differently to each of us, there is also no denying that even within the first month of this journey, we’ve grown to love Ghana and all the insecurities, physical exhaustion, and ultra-friendly people that come with it. We’re even beginning to crave that space outside our comfort zones.


Ma aha from Ghana, obrunis! Well, we made it. Currently we're staying in a hostel about 10 miles (so 2.5 hours in a Trotro) away from Accra. Come Friday, however, I will be moving into the Bma house. My family consists of a wonderful mother, a father, a 'guy' (that being the only description I was offered), a BABY, and a SIX YEAR OLD GIRL AHHHHHHHH BEST FRIENDS. I CAN'T WAIT.
I've been placed at the Nubuke Foundation, which works in cultural restoration through support of local artists, art instruction in schools, exhibitions and research. I've already been in contact with the Children's Autism Center and will be establishing an art program there as weekly therapy for the students!
I certainly miss home a lot, and even in the first five days I've experienced pangs of homesickness but within minutes a friendly Ghanaian child will run by and shout "obruni obuni!" (white person, white person) and start a game of tag. Anyone who tells you Ghana is friendly is NOT LYING. I've already received a marriage proposal and made approximately 27 "best friends." The entie group has had some adjusting to do but even so soon, this place is really starting to feel like a second home, or at least a place that is so welcoming that it could easily become one.
I'm happy to report that none of us have gotten sick yet, although it does take 14-21 days for Malaria to start showing signs so WHO KNOWS.
I love and miss you all!
Rhino kisses, wawawawawa, kisshug.

Kofi ("Born on Friday")

Day 0
     Here sits the Ghana Group, staring at luggage long since prepared, empty dorm halls, and the back of three other vans already carting their cargo to the three countries that await them. We’ve said goodbye to our peers in service: the Groovy Ruvies, the Turbo Serbs and the India Ninjas, and now we wait for our turn to pile literal tons of baggage into a cramped van and jump across the big blue ocean to our new home. We wait as if are heading towards Princeton for our freshman year, with an excitement not descriptive of the actual event: ten hours on a jet to England, five hours of layover, another taxing flight to our destination and nine months of sweat, Tro tros, Malaria, Twi, and the unfamiliar feeling of being the outsider. It would seem that us five students, and the fifteen others like us, are mentally unstable to have chosen such a path—that we must be ignorant or naive to not have been reduced to quaking jello by the fears which should have prevented us from even applying to Bridge Year . Ask us, though, how we feel about what lay ahead and the only answer you would receive is “WHY ARE WE THE LAST GROUP TO LEAVE?!”
     Us Ghanaroosters are a diverse group: made up of a religiously convicted Vietnamese-American named Cam, a Bahsten native named Lindsey, a New Brunswickian Indian named Pallavi (emphasis on the first syllable), a Brazilian named Henrique (whose name is quite coincidentally similar to that of my high school), and myself: a born-and-bred Virginian who can’t claim to have done anything particularly spectacular with his life beyond becoming a Princeton Tiger—accomplished through no particularly great effort on his part but fed through a series of cosmic karmic tubes to his doorstep as challenge in perspective, humility, and cosmopolitanism.
     We’ve spent this summer dispelling those fears that we could, coming to terms with the ones that are here to stay, and preparing ourselves for the 99.9% of this experience that we could never predict no matter how intensive an orientation we received. All we have left now are our bare selves, already mentally stripped of the comforts of our first home, ready to be filled with whatever Ghana will give us—be it a disastrous case of Malaria or something more… no not Ebola, but something that I suspect none of us can quite put in to words right now. If we could, there would be less motivation to uproot ourselves like this. What we crave is something that has yet to be introduced.
     We are told that we will land in Ghana tomorrow evening and set up camp in a youth hostel for eight days of intense language and culture training before being released to our home stay families yet to be indentified. We are told that for four and one-half months we will work in the capital city of Accra on service projects yet to be explained. We are told that upon completion of the first half of our stay, we will move to the village of Oguaa where we will teach at a school yet to be assigned a subject yet to be determined. We are told that in Ghana, the things that you are told rarely apply to the situation that actually occurs. This year will be a dangerous one, marked by failures, panic, frustration, inadequacy, depression, sickness, and the unexpected—much the same as this year for my peers in college. This year will also be one of immense growth, of dimensionally expanded perspectives, and the introduction of an identity that will be as painfully left in Ghana as the one left here in the States.
     While we cannot ignore that we have all left things behind, it is useful to consider this separation less like an abandonment and more like the isolated fermentation of two cultures that, when reunited, will bond in more spectacular ways then ever originally possible.
     Come ticks, come flies, come heat, come disease, come all you challenges that lay ahead so blatantly; we are a group which has seen you hiding there in Ghana and has CHOSEN to lay ourselves at your mercy in the name of greater service. As we sit here on the campus that becomes increasingly mocking in its jangling of the luxuries, comforts and beauty that we will not be privy to for an entire year, we stare ahead at those challenges—not knowing how we will face them or to what end, but knowing that when we stop facing those innumerable monsters, we only give them leave to come at us from behind. Onward Princeton Tigers; Onward Ghanaian Elephants; Onward Indian Yaks; Onward Peruvian… Llamas; Onward Serbian… well perhaps the animal motif can’t be universally applied, but Onward All nonetheless to great works of service, cross-culturalism, and Malaria.

Post Test
 Testing my ability to log before heading off to Ghana! Successful?


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