Sunday, August 2, 2009 more blog post...

Sorry to throw everyone off, but I actually have one more short post.

We are currently at the internet cafe in Accra. I get home this week after much traveling and sitting.

Speaking of sitting, after my last post I did one thing--get my hair done. It took a total of 25.5 hours to twist tiny sections of my hair into little purple, black, and red twisties. The lady actually chopped some of my real hair off, too. I was stressing out a lot about it, but I'll just see how long it is when I take it out.

So yes, I sat on a tiny wooden stool for almost 26 hours over three days. The pain on my bottom was the worst I've ever experienced. Yesterday, we all traveled to Kumasi and stayed in the Guestline Lodge for one night. Early this morning, we hopped an STC bus to Accra. That's where we are now. We had a REALLY expensive meal (boo city life). Who knows what we'll do later...

I think we've planned to go to Independence Square and the beach and the temple over the next couple of days. We'll see how that actually works out, though. It IS the rainy season.

I'll talk to everyone really soon! Until then, I miss you all. MMMMMMWWWWAAAAHHHH!

Love always,
Amy Elizabeth

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our Last Week in Wiamoase...

Last week, I did not blog on Friday because I ran out of time. However, Friday was a great day. We went to the Craft Village of Ahwiaa where the wood-carvers sell their goods. When Obronis go there, though, it is a bargaining frenzy! It was definitely challenging, but I think I did alright. I also brought lots to trade because I don't want to carry everything home. They LOVED the hand sanitizer and the lotion. I have two funny stories from the Craft Village. The first one is about Tommy's present from Ghana--I had the most difficult time getting it! I actually had to beg the man in the end, and he gave it to me. It's a great story that I'll have to tell him when I give it to him. Tommy should just remember how much I love him...that's all I have to say about that. The second story is really funny. In the first shop I went to, the man kept saying that we could straight trade, meaning the trade does not involve any money at all. I told him I would come back to his shop to trade because I wanted to see all of the items in the other shops first. He tried to persuade me to come back by giving me a bracelet for free. However, after I went through all of the other shops, I had nothing left to trade except my stretched out underwear. I went back to his shop, and he was so disappointed that I didn't trade him my hand sanitizer or lotion. I told him that I could still trade him some underwear if he wanted it. He was obviously hurt, and he gave me a really super cool mask. So, I got a bracelet and an awesome mask in exchange underwear...

I thought that was funny.

On Saturday, we had a group party because Margaret was leaving on Sunday morning. We gave gifts to all of the members of the host family. I was in charge of Christiana's gift...I got her cute shoes and matching earrings. We also took minerals (drank soda) and ate biscuits (cookies). It was a really fun time. Sunday was our last day at church because we will be traveling next Sunday to Accra.

Monday was a super duper fun day, even though I didn't exactly do anything, because I got to spend an entire day at a compound and saw what the actual people are doing in the casual environment of their own home. It was so fun. We went over to Deborah's house (Kayla is interviewing Deborah for her project) so Kayla and I could get our hair plaited. However, Kayla's hair ended up taking 14 hours total, so I am getting my hair plaited tomorrow instead. Deborah fed us some really good but really interesting food at her house. Who knew fish could taste so good with bananas? We also had lots of girl talk (aka Deborah was being suggestive and dirty and hilarious). Her 1 1/2 year old daughter, Perpetua, kept being a stinker and cried a lot. We had so much fun, though!

Yesterday, Michelle and I went to the only school for the deaf in the Ashanti Region. It was so incredible! I wish I knew it was there so I could have done my project at that site. All the kids were so excited to see us. They used American Sign Language, so I could communicate with them a little bit...mostly things I learned from Kasen Lindquist and working at the Provo School District.

As I said before, Thursday and Friday I will be getting my hair plaited. On Saturday, we leave Wiamoase, and on Sunday we will be going to Accra by bus. In Accra, we are hoping to go to the National Theater and the temple and Independence Square...who knows where else.

I won't be using the computer again until I get back in a week. So, this is my last post from Ghana. Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Palace Museum

Today, we had the incredible opportunity to visit the Palace Museum in Kumasi. The chief of the Ashanti kingdom still lives in part of the palace, but the other part (the older part) has been made into a museum. First, we watched a documentary all about the chiefs, the queen mothers, and the traditions of the culture surrounding the Asantehene. Then, we got to see all of the talking drums that called the people to assemble before the chief back before the people had radios and telephones. We also saw the beds and chairs that carried the kings and queen mothers, including the current ones. Inside a huge, mansion-like building, we got to see all the offices and receiving rooms of the chiefs. They were filled with old photographs and wax figures that looked like all of the old chiefs that inhabited that palace. We also got to see lots of Kente cloths that they used to wear, each one particular to a royal family. We also saw war gear that the Ashanti people do not really use anymore...but in the past, they have been known for their fierceness in battle. In fact, the symbol for the Ashanti people is a porcupine because they are very calm animals until provoked, but they can definitely protect themselves with their pointy quills. Pretty cool. Anyway, I really enjoyed learning all about the history of the Ashanti kingdom.

Just to update research is officially done! On Monday, I was able to meet and assess the final students. I'm pretty excited to be able to assess the students in America now. I'll make sure I let everybody know the results as soon as I get them.

I have two weeks left before I go home. Isn't that CRAZY? I've been gone for 2 1/2 months. Margaret is leaving on Sunday to go back home, so this week we are going to give the family members their gifts. I was in charge of Christiana's gifts. She calls me Auntie Amy's so cute. I got her some shoes and earrings because she's a pretty posh lady. She sure does love her style. Every time we bring fabric or dresses home, she always has to see them. I think she'll like them.

For the next two weeks, I'll just be tying up loose ends. Basically, I will be visiting some of the friends I've made and volunteering at the clinic. I will also be going to the school in Jumasi, which has a Special Ed program...I thought that would be really interesting. We are also planning to go volunteer at one of the hospitals nearby. So yes, lots to look forward to still. Yesterday, while I was volunteering at the clinic, I found out that I got my birthday card from Scotchie! Apparently, it's never too late to say Happy puppy is so thoughtful!

I'm not sure what we'll do during the evenings, though. For the last 2 1/2 months, we've been watching episodes of the TV show House. However, now all of the seasons are done, so we may need to find new ways to entertain ourselves. I'm not trying to predict the future, here, but I'm guessing it will involve dancing and singing with Grace and Christiana. Christiana is probably my biggest fan...she loves to watch me dance haha. We have such a great time together.

Wish me luck over the next two weeks that I don't get sick!

I love you all muchisimo!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Miss Me, Miss Me, Now You Gotta...Wait Two Weeks

I'm alive! I survived my research. Kind of. I still need to do the assessments for one girl on Monday and take 3 more BMIs, but other than that, I am finished! Friday was my last day at school. It was kind of bittersweet because I'll really miss the students, but I was happy to be done. The kids haven't really had class this last week, so it was mayhem. The last week of school. Yesterday was like the last day of school. I brought my camera and took pictures. It was insane. The kids were tackling me and fighting each other to get in the pictures. I went with Kayla, and we both got MOBBED. Those kids are so funny.

To celebrate the end of school, I decided to write down my favorite quotes from the teachers at the school

1. "The weather is not favorable for caning. But some of you, you push us to the wall. And for those, I will support it." (caning = beating).
2. "Amy, what is your number? For break, I will beat you."
3. "If you are talking, it will speak." (Referring to the cane).
4. "Stop clearing your is like you have chewed maggots."
5. "Keep mute."
6. "If I get hold of you, you will laugh at the wrong side of your teeth."
7. "You don't see men getting the breast cancer. It's because the women put the money under their BRASSIERE, and the metals and the chemicals go into the skin." (Huge emphasis on BRASSIERE)
8. "We should not put currencies under our BRASSIERES, or they will be defaced" (Bigger emphasis on BRASSIERES...I was cracking up at that point).
9. "You can fool the people all the time, but all the time you can't fool all the people." (Huh?)
10. "The weather will be very hot for you." (Note: it was really cold and rainy outside, and he was threatening to beat the kids)
11. "I want the room to be as silent"
12. "I will work you." (Threatening to beat the kids...heard this one just about every day)
13. "A hunter who only hunts for elepyhants will go home empty-handed." I really liked that one actually.
14. "I will beat you, and you will smell the pepe." (Pepe is the spicy pepper that Ghanaians put in all their food) favorite:
15. "Leave Amy alone. The way you crowd around her, it is as if you have never seen a white person before. Let her breathe the fresh air of Ghana. The same blood that runs through you also runs through her. It is by God's creation that she is white. Amy told me that just yesterday she ate fufu. She does the same things as you. Do you wonder if Amy poo-poos? AMY POO-POOS!"

I hope you all enjoyed them as much as I did. Good times.

Anyway, for the last day of school, I presented some world maps as a gift for all of the classrooms. I found some in Kumasi that showed Salt Lake City, so the students will now know exactly how far BYU students come to be with them. It was a great day, and I'll miss everyone oodles.

I did not just do testing the whole time, though. I have a life outside of school. On July 4th, we went to the funeral of the brother of a man in our ward. It was so cool! First, we greeted everyone there. The people were so excited to see Obronis at the event. Then, we ate some chicken-jerky-ish food and Fanta (the soda). When we were finished, we sat under some tents and listened to a woman speaking into a microphone amplified to a bagillion decibels. It hurt my ears, but that's celebration here. We talked to the man in our ward. It was interesting to see all the people in the ceremonious Ghanaian funeral dress. We all wore black to be respectful, too. However, there was a girl who showed up in REALLY short shorts...dare I say booty shorts. All of the elders were appalled. The lady sitting in front of us was hilarious. Her jaw literally dropped...I could see her uvula. Then, she pointed to our dresses and skirts and gave us a "thumbs up" to show that our dress was more respectful than the girl's outfit. The whole place was scandalized, and so many people were really offended. Michelle put our donation for the family up at the front, and one of the women asked her to dance. So, Michelle fetched all of us, and we danced in front of the family. It was so fun! We learned the traditional funeral dances, and all the women privately tutored each one of the girls in dancing. I loved it. When we were done, the people were taking pictures of us with their camera phones...they loved it.

In addition to the funeral, we also played football (aka soccer) with some girls from the secondary school on the Fourth of July. It was a really great game, but none of us were used to running in such humidity, so we had to take lots of breathers. We played on a regulation sized field, but there were only 10 girls (both teams combined), so that added a bit to the water breaks. It was really fun, though. Ghanaians play football differently than Americans. There is a lot less physical contact because the kids don't have as much equipment. The girls we were playing with played in their bare feet or socks, and obviously no one wore shin guards. It required a lot more ball control...I liked it.

School was pretty much the same every actually got a little bit monotonous. One day, one of the teachers asked me to beat the students. I said no, and he made me come to the front of the room anyway. I feigned a lack of strength and told him that I was not as strong as a Ghanaian. Instead of leaving me alone, he grabbed my hand, put a cane in it, and slapped a kid really hard. I felt terrible, even though it wasn't really my doing. He told me that he would train me more, and I was terrified. However, that was the only incidence of it because I told them that American teachers get arrested for beating the children and I was afraid of the police. They laughed and left it alone at that.

It had been raining A LOT for a while...every day. Luckily, my research was only disrupted once by the rain. However, the power went out a bunch, so it was hard to read and get work done. It seems like the rain will be letting up a little now, though, so I can do fun things in the community without getting too wet.

Last Saturday, we watched President Obama speak to the Ghanaians, both in Accra and in Cape Coast. I felt very proud that he is my president because the words he spoke were both honest and hopeful. He told Ghanaians that they need to take responsibility for their economic situations and their lives, but that by staying healthy and embracing opportunities they can prosper. He also made a huge point to address the youth, to encourage them to build up the country and their individual situations. I loved listening to that part. I also really liked that he told Ghanaians that they were a part of the progressive world, not just a country that should receive aid. He really encouraged hard work. All the Ghanaians I spoke to really seemed to like the speech as well, and all of them tuned in to see him. What a great time to be in Ghana!

Yesterday was a pretty eventful day. Besides being the last day of school, I also got a dress made! I brought the fabric that Headmaster Peter had bought me for my birthday on Monday to a dress lady named Beatrice, a single mother to whom Shannon introduced me. She was so sweet! The dress was ready yesterday so I could wear it to the last day of school. It's beautiful! Also, some beads that I had gotten at the market match it perfectly. When I wore it to school, everyone was so happy. All of the kids kept telling me that I looked beautiful. Peter was beaming with happiness. Madam Beatrice, one of the teachers, screamed and gave me a huge hug, telling me that I was a Ghanaian beauty. I had my dress, my hair, my beads...all I needed was a couple shades darker on the skin, and I would have blended right in! Madam Agnes, the English teacher, rubbed my arms and spouted off in Twi. So cute.

Kayla and I also took our hair out yesterday after school after 6 weeks of leaving it in. Talk about greasy! The ends weren't too bad, but the roots were matted and gross. When we combed it all out, we both had two huge poof balls for heads. Also, 6 weeks of dead hair came out, too. Kayla and I filled a plastic bag with all the hair that fell out. Kayla told me that she feels like she lost all of her hair and is bald, but I really can't notice a difference. Do I have THAT much hair normally? How embarrassing.

I know everyone's really excited to learn about the results of the research...however, since my study is comparative, I won't actually find out until AFTER I test the students in America. Sorry! Just know that the project was super duper successful here. I got all the information I needed. The students scored really well on the assessments...turns out that the first day was kind of a fluke. The interviews about types of physical activity gave me lots of information, but I don't know how dependable it is, so I'll ask my professor what we should do about that. Worst come to worst, I can ignore duration and only focus on the activities and their intensities. We'll see. I'll keep you all posted, though.

I'm just so happy that my project is done! I tested 30 girls in only 15 days. I'm so pleased. For the next two weeks, I will be volunteering in the clinic, visiting the friends I've made in the community, and exploring. I'm really excited. I don't think my project could have gone better as far as timing and logistics are concerned. All of the people at the school--the headmaster, teachers, and students--were so helpful. They really jumped through fiery hoops to make everything work out. I feel so grateful.

I think the next time I will use the internet will be Wednesday. Hopefully, by that time, you will all have finished reading this extraordinarily long blog post. Enjoy!

I hope everything is well on the homefront. Just seeing the United States on the world maps made me really miss home. I'll be back soon...just two more weeks!

Love you guys.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Beginnings of my Research

After two months of trying to start my project, I finally began my research yesterday! It went well...definitely not the results I expected. The students scored really low on the core stability tests, which I attribute to their Western influence of a society in which children are trained physically to pass a fitness test instead of to sit up straight or carry their own backpacks. I thought it was really interesting, though.

Wednesday was a holiday--Republic Day (the day upon which the republic was formed). And TOMORROW is the Fourth of July! We'll be going to a funeral, which should be an interesting cultural experience. We are going to the part where the people dance and eat lots of food, not the wailing and mourning part. A man who goes to our church has a brother who died in Canada, and his body was shipped back to Ghana. The people here traditionally wait forty days before they bury the body (unless they are Muslim). Interesting...

I know I wrote to everybody on Monday...I do have a cute story from yesterday, though. Shannon, Kayla, and I went with Grace (the daughter of our host parents and our translator) to a house so that Kayla could meet people to interview. We went into the compound, and a billion little kids were in there. The mothers were pounding fufu. Fufu is basically yams that are pounded into a gelatinous goo. They are used to mop up soups and stews. The women use a giant log and bring the end down into a bowl to mash it up. It's really cool. Anyways, at first these kids were terrified of us. They think that white people are ghosts sometimes. However, one of the mothers gave Kayla her newborn baby to hold. She was darling with her curly black ringlet hair and her tiny little fingers. I tried to speak Twi with the kids. They loved it. Then, I motioned for them to come play handgames with me (I had learned some in the Presby school...the girls teach them to me pretty much every day). Soon, the children all wanted to play with me. They were singing and clapping. It was so much fun. I love connecting to the people here. The kids are so cute once they learn that we're actually good people.

Sad news...Margaret, our field facilitator, got malaria this week. That means that out of our group of seven, six have gotten malaria so far. We are predicting that Whitney will get it before we leave.

I will not be emailing again until July 18th or later because I will be doing research every day for the next two weeks. I will talk to you all then. I'm sure I'll have a lot to talk about, so be sure to check my blog after that date.

I love you all...have a happy holiday and watch some fireworks for me. Hot dogs and hamburgers and Momma's macaroni/tuna salad are not out of the question, either.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We Beat President Obama to Cape Coast! And Did Michael Jackson Die???

Apparently, President Obama is visiting Cape Coast on July 11th. Well, not to brag, but we beat him there! So...yay!

We had a great time in Cape Coast. We visited the Cape Coast Castle, from which a lot of the Triangle Trade took place. The Americas sent raw materials to Europe, Europe processed those materials and sent them to Ghana, and Ghana sent slaves to the Americas to produce the raw materials--in a nutshell. It was so interesting! I feel like I have so much to tell everybody about it. We met a senior missionary couple on our tour of the castle. They were a piece of work. The man asked the tour guide, a Ghanaian, if he thought that slavery was a good thing. Really? You're asking an African if slavery was good? Also, a couple of men were fishing off the coast. The man asked our tour guide if those were the slave ships coming to get the Africans. I was ashamed to be American at that moment. I really wonder what impression tourists give off in the various places they visit. I wonder if our tour guide will someday go to America and ask a tour guide at, say, Monticello if he thinks slavery was a good thing. Ugh. Some people. We also learned in the castle that Michael Jackson died. They had been playing his music all day, and we were all curious as to why they were doing that. Then, a man in the museum said that he died, and we were all distraught and talked about our favorite Thriller dance memories. Is it true? Someone give me an update.

Anyway, it was so rainy in Cape Coast! We got there in flood conditions. Cars were half-submerged in muddy water. I was glad to be on a big huge bus. However, we were lucky that whenever we went out it really wasn't raining too bad. We even went to the beach for a little bit. We ran around in the water and got some fun pictures. Two little boys were playing with us and wanted to be in all of our pictures. It was pretty cute.

We also went on the Kakum Canopy Walk. I think anyone who reads this should try looking it up online. It was incredible. Basically, we were suspended hundreds of feet above the jungle by a walkway and a rope bridge. It was so beautiful. Sadly, my memory card ran out in the middle, so I had to delete some pictures (don't worry, they're already saved on my computer at school). It was so incredible, though. We didn't get to see any animals, but we didn't really expect to. Lots of bugs though. Exotic, tiny, creepy bugs. Imagine my delight.

We stayed at a really nice hotel with a toilet that flushed! The high life. We also ate at some really great restaurants. I had some banana pancakes that pretty much changed my life. We also got to look in lots of fun little shops. We saw a textile mill that printed a fabric with Obama's face on it that said "Akwaaba (welcome) Obama." Ghanaians are really happy that he's visiting soon.

I wish I could write everything that happened in Cape Coast because it was SO FUN, but I only have a couple minutes left, so I have to go. I'll email/blog again this Friday, and then I won't have a chance to come to Kumasi for the next two weeks. So send love now or for two weeks hold your peace!

Love you all. Have a great week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Malaria Strikes Back

...but not at me. Four people in our group got malaria this last week. Justin and Kayla definitely have full-blown malaria. Michelle and Shannon might have it, but they are still taking the medications. SO, we couldn't go to Cape Coast last weekend. We'll be leaving this Friday instead. I did get a summer cold, though, because it's been really cold from the rain. It's no malaria case...but I'm still phlegmy.

Guess what...I got birthday mail last week! Last Wednesday, I got cards and letters from the Lindquists, Devin, and Momsy and Popsicle (aka Mom and Dad). Thanks so much, you guys! I did not realize the mail could come here so fast...less than two weeks! Imagine my excitement.

I have to keep this blog post short because I don't have too much time left. Update: this last week was Athletics Week for the town of Wiamoase. Athletes from all the different schools competed in running, football (soccer), volleyball, and table tennis events. Presby (my school) took first in volleyball, second in football, and third in running. Go Presby!

One cute little anecdote. We were waiting on Thursday for the running events to start, and I was sitting on a bench. A little girl was holding her sleeping sister, and no one would let her sit down. They wouldn't let me stand up to give her a seat, either, so I asked if she wanted me to hold her sister. She said yes, and I held onto the little sleeping girl for a while. She was so cute...she probably had the chubbiest cheeks I've ever seen. Michelle took a picture of us together. When I get a chance, maybe I can try to upload it somehow. Anyway, I had to readjust her because she was falling off my lap. She woke up and saw a white girl holding her and freaked out a little bit. It was pretty funny. I was happy to help out the sister, though, because it was so hot out that day! I didn't even want to sit too close to someone, much less be forced to stand up holding a sleeping baby.

Things are still going well for me. I will start my research next Wednesday after the retreat to Cape Coast. I hope everyone is doing well! I'll try to update again next Friday with tales from the beach.

Love you all!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dananananana You say it's my birthday (to the tune of the Beattle's song)

My birthday was on Friday, and it was a fabulous day. We all went to Kumasi to celebrate/use the internet (which was down in the city...again). Instead, we went to the cultural center and looked around for a while. We even got to eat at the restaurant there. I had Red Red, which is fried plantain with spicy beans, and chicken. It was super yummy, but there sure was a lot of it. I justified everything by saying it was my birthday. So did everybody else. If someone wanted to buy something but tried to restrain themselves, everyone else would say, "It's Amy's only comes once a year." Inevitably, that person would agree and indulge themselves. I used the justification to convince me to buy not one but two Fan-milk treats--Fan-choco and Fan-ice. They are basically like frozen chocolate milk and frozen marshmallow ice cream, respectively. My favorite. I have to find a way to imitate them when I come home so everybody can try creamy Fan-goodness.We came back from Kumasi, and in the evening Christiana made my favorite for dinner (tomato stew and rice with a fried boiled egg). For my birthday celebration, my group made salsa (both regular and mango) and fried up some pitas, so it was like nachos. It reminded me of watching movies with Devin. I loved it, though. We got lots of great pictures.

Other than that, I continue to observe in the schools. My kids are so funny. They teach me Twi and lots of really cool hand games. They are so coordinated. Fortunately, in my day I was the hand game queen, so they are always really impressed at how fast I learn. The girls love to play with me. The boys are really funny. They all want to take me to wife. They kiss my hand all the time, and the teachers have to shoo them away so they don't suffocate me. Thank goodness I'm not claustrophobic. This week, the kids are doing a town-wide athletic competition. It's so cool, and it really works well with my project to see them engaging in physical activity. They play football (soccer), net ball (like volleyball but not), volleyball, and track. I am amazed at how hard they trained the week before, too. They play football without any shin-guards, so it's not so much about contact as it is in America as it is about ball control and skill. For the track events, the students wear socks but not shoes. They run on the rocky ground, too! I can't imagine being that awesome.

Last Wednesday, one of the teachers at the school asked me to preach to the students. Every Wednesday, the students have a worship service. I love listening to Ghanaians sing, and they REALLY sing! They shout really loud, but it sounds beautiful, especially with the drums. Anyway, I preached to a whole Presbyterian school. It was really scary, but I'm glad I did it. The kids loved it.

Speaking of worship, funny story. Last Sunday, when we went to Church, the taxi driver had some music on. They always put on Sunday appropriate songs when we go to church...and sometimes they play Celine Dion. They're practically the same. Kind of. Anyway, last Sunday the lyrics were "Move to the left in the name of Jesus. Move to the right in the name of the Lord. Shake that booty that Jesus gave ya. Shake that booty in the name of the Lord." We could not stop laughing. It was pretty funny.

I am starting my research next week in the school. My informed consent forms have all been handed out to the students. Printing them all off cost almost $27...thanks a lot, IRB. Oh well. This Saturday, we will be going on our mid-semester retreat to Cape Coast...aka the beach. I will be sure to update next week if the internet is working. Until then, have a great week, everyone! BYU students...good luck on finals. Love you guys!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Got My Hair Done!

I hope everyone appreciates this message because they did not have to wait 3 weeks for it like they did last time. Yay!

I am wondering how everyone is doing! I miss you guys so much, and even though I'm having a great time here I can't wait to come home. There's just something about indoor plumbing that draws me in.

I have a great you may have guessed from the title, I got my hair done. It looks fabulous. The women came on Friday. It took two people and three hours. Youch. It also required two bags of fake hair. First, Sister Jenna (one of the hair stylists) took a really tiny section of my hair. She wrapped a bunch of fake hair around the roots of my natural hair so it kind of looks like a knot. Then, she braided the hair all the way down. She snipped off the stray hairs along the braid with some scissors. She and Comfort (the other hair lady) did that to my entire head. I now have hundreds of little Medusa braids all over. When they were done braiding, they put a flame next to the fake hair to burn off more stray hairs. Needless to say, I was terrified. Kayla got some pretty great pictures of the process. At the end, they boiled the ends of the fake hair in water and I was done.

May I just say that I have such great respect for Ghanaian women. This hair weighs a ton! How do they wear their hair like this all the time??? AND they are able to carry huge baskets and bowls on top of their hair on top of their heads. Incredible. I am finally used to it, but my neck hurt a little bit the first day. It's also a little itchy at times, but it is getting way better each day. I absolutely love it. And I took lots of pictures that I cannot download because the internet takes forever and cannot handle big files. Oh well. The people in my group have told me that it looks great...very natural-looking. It's also really easy because I can't wash it. Sweet!

Basically, June is the best month ever. There is something to look forward to every week! Last week, I got my hair done. This Friday, it's my 22nd birthday. Next week, we will be going to Cape Coast (the beach!!!) on our mid-semester retreat. The week after that, I will finally start testing in the schools and will do it for 3 weeks (2 students a day for 15 days = 30 students...wowsa).

Speaking of my birthday, I know lots of people have wanted my address to send me a card or something. My address is:

Amy Nagle
c/o Esther Baffour
P.O. Box 14
Wiamoase, Ashanti Region
Ghana, West Africa

Do not be sad if I don't get mail...we just received a letter for a girl that was here during Fall Semester...we got it last week. Mail is uber slow here, so I wouldn't send anything valuable or large.

I'm really excited for my birthday. The group and I will go to Kumasi (the capital city of the Ashanti region) to celebrate. It will be wicked fun.

I hope everyone is doing well in America! Enjoy the month of's my favorite.

Love always,
Amy Elizabeth

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

1 Month Mark, Malaria, and my first day of school

My oh has been a while.

And for good reason. The Wednesday after I emailed/blogged last, I got malaria. Since the symptoms take 2 weeks to come, that means I got bitten by a mosquito carrying malaria getting off the plane. Just my luck. Luckily, no field study student has ever gotten malaria twice, so hopefully this was my only time to get it. Since it was so early in my field study and I have not yet started my research, I consider this a good thing.

Basically, on Wednesday morning at about 12:30, I started vomiting. And boy, do I mean vomiting (I actually developed a taste eversion against cabbage stew and cookies because they do NOT taste good on the way coming up). I threw up probably 8 times. Most of it was just dry heaving, but it was pretty yucky. In the morning, I told Margaret (my facilitator), and she walked with me to the clinic. As a malaria survivor, she took good care of me. In the clinic, I had a blood test, and then they tested all of my vitals. I had a slight fever, but I was still doing ok. I had been drinking some crystal light to get some fluids and electrolytes in me, but I threw that up at the clinic. My shirt was a lovely shade of pink, though. I had a blood pressure of 80/50, so they brought me to a nice room of my very own and gave me two IVs of saline solution. It was really cold, and I loved it. The nurses took excellent care of me, and I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was ready to go. I got my pills from the Dispensary. All together, the treatment cost 10 cedis (under $10). Now that's health care, hehe.

The next couple of days, I just recovered. I wasn't vomiting anymore, and they gave me pain killers, so I slept through most of it. I lost a bit of weight, but not too much. Basically, I was sick for one day, and I was woozy for four. Not too shabby. I got over it on Sunday night. I felt bad because I was going to start observing in the schools that Wednesday. Sad.

Monday was African Unity Day. I had an extra day to recover because I could not go to school. It wasn't open.

Tuesday, though. Tuesday was my first day of school. I took a first day of school picture in honor of Kwistin (remember last fall?). I went to the school and met the headmaster, Peter. He and all of the teachers have been so kind to me. I love it. I love the students, too. They keep teaching me Twi and lots of different hand games. I think the thing I like least about school is watching corporal punishment with canes. It's pretty scary, but it's just a part of the culture. I'm learning to understand and not be too judgemental. A great learning experience.

I love how strong the kids are. The other day, they brought their desks outside. Not only are their desks made attached to the chair, but they are made for 2-3 students. They are huge, and most students carried one by themselves! Incredible!

Speaking of making observations, I got IRB approval! YAY! That means I can start my research finally. And, I got a scholarship from the Kennedy Center, so that always helps.

Friday is my one-month mark. Today is four weeks. It has passed so fast so far, but I still feel like I've been here for a year. It's really been an incredible experience so far. I have been able to begin accomplishing one of my life goals: to serve people in Africa. I have wanted to do it ever since I learned about AIDS in 6th grade. I absolutely love the people here, and I hope that my research helps people all over the world become healthier and happier within their own cultural contexts.

I'll keep you all posted.

Devin...9 months. Just sayin'

I love you all!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Since I've Been Gone

I'd like to apologize in advance...the keyboards here are a bit sticky, so I may not have the best typing right now. or the best capitalization or punctuation

also, i had originally planned to include a daily update on my blog. i was going to write it out from my journal on someone else's laptop, save it on a USB, and put it on my blog whenever i got to use the internet. looks like that won't be happening either. sad. however, i do plan on updating about general things i do and see. i'll put my journal up when i get home so that you can read about the whole thing. lucky you!

my group is currently residing on-site in Wiamoase. it is such a happy village! the people are all very friendly. in fact, before we leave every morning, we have to schedule time on our walk to be able to stop and greet people. personally. so, a 5-10 minute walk might take half an hour. i really love that, though.

also, everyone wants to teach us Twi. whenever we meet people, we try to use the limited Twi we know. they end up laughing at us and then teaching us more words. i love it. i wonder if Americans are like that. when was the last time a person who speaks English as a second language had a difficult time communicating, and we helped them to learn new words in the language we know so well? Or, when was the last time we greeted other people at all while just walking down the street? Food for thought.

The children here are hilarious. They love to see us! it doesn't help that our route up to the street is through the primary school yard. whenever we walk through, they shake our hands and use the English they've learned. "Hello, obroni, how are you?" We say, "We are fine. How are you?" They don't know the responses yet, so they giggle and get really shy or run away. So cute. The other day, some little boys followed us home. Christiana (the niece of the heads of our host family) talked to them in Twi. All of a sudden, she jumped up from her seat and ran at them. One of the boys started to fake-cry while she smacked them with a towel. It was really really funny. They all came back the next day. David, the son of the heads of the host family, took a water satchet and pretended to drink from it. He got really close to a boy and sprayed him until he was soaked. Then, he chased them all away with water. It was so great. we all loved it.

The Baffour family is so nice. Esther is the mom, and she hurt her leg a week before we came. We haven't seen too much of her. Dr. Samuel is living at the clinic he works at, so we haven't been able to meet him at all. Hilda is the oldest, and she came to teach us ghanaian songs and dances. She teaches at a school, so she is not around too often. David also teaches, so we get to see him on the weekends sometimes. He is very smart. Emmanuel and Grace are students, so we have not met them yet. Christiana lives with her family, but we pay her to make traditional Ghanaian meals for us and to help us with our laundry. She is so sweet. I got to go to the market in Agona (a nearby town) with her last week. She is around my age, but she is really independent and strong.

I've noticed that lots of children here are raised to be independent and strong. Their parents definitely do not baby them. If the child wants something, he has to learn to get it himself or go without it. Even toys. I was watching a little girl in the clinic last week who could stand but couldn't walk yet. I do not know how old she is, but she was tiny. She was playing with a push toy, kind of like a lawnmower but simpler. It fell over, and her mother said, "Pick it up," instead of picking it up for her. The little girl swayed a bit, but she was able to pick up this huge toy all by herself and push it along. Incredible.

So, since I've been here, i've just been getting to know the community and the people. hopefully this week i can enter the jss (junior secondary school) and get to know some students before i begin my research. i still do not have irb approval (i'm waiting on it), so i cannot start my research yet. the irb is the institutional review board that says whether studies are ethical. no one can do research through byu without their approval. so...i wait. it's very relaxing.

well, i will probably post again in a week. have a great one, everybody!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Temporary Malfunctions

So...I really wanted to update my blog with entries from my journal, but the internet is giving me muchos problemas, so I will be sure to update it soon. Sorry for any inconveniences this may cause. I am well, though. We are all in Wiamoase finally, and most of us are waiting to hear back from the IRB still. I'll probably be able to update next week. Love you all!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gonna Go To Ghana!

Actually, I'm already here, but I thought that title would be cute. I only have 15 minutes left, so here's a quick overview of what's gone on so far. We arrive in Accra on Wednesday night and then came to Kumasi yesterday. In Accra, we went to the National Museum of Ghana. It was really fun. We learned all about the things we had learned about for such a long time in our field studies class, but we got to see actual artifacts and actual objects. I'll have to write more in another blog entry with specifics later. Then, while waiting for the bus to go to Kumasi, we met Stephen. He was a police officer that really liked talking to us, so he stayed talking to us for four hours. Yee haa. He decided that he would take all six girls to wife and that Justin would be his brother-in-law. Hahaha.

The bus ride to Kumasi took 8 hours. It was long and very bumpy, but it was also very beautiful. There was jungle as far as the eye could see. The people are so friendly. They smile at us and wave. While we were on the bus, all the children kept screaming "Obruni! Obruni!" which means "White people! White people!" and waved and grinned. The kids are adorable.

Coincidence: I met a man at a bus stop on the way to Kumasi. He asked if we were Americans and where we are from. He told us that he is from Worchester, MA. What a coincidence! In the middle of a West African jungle, I meet a guy from Massachusetts. What are the odds? Also, they played Celine Dion on the bus radio. Did not expect that I would come to Ghana and only hear Celine Dion on the radio. Funny stuff.

The food is delicious, but it is very spicy. Fortunately, my pallet is not as sensitive as others' in the group, and I do alright with it. We have had egg sandwiches, rice with sauce, sweet bread, oranges, pineapples, crackers, and goat meat. It all tastes really good. And don't worry...we drink plenty of good water.

Everything here is also super duper cheap. Four of us rode in a taxi for 20 minutes. It cost $4. The first day in Accra, it cost less than $2.80 for all 7 of us to eat a full lunch. SO GOOD! We pay in cedis which are almost equal to American dollars and pesuas which are like American dimes.

So I have been having a great time. All is well. No problems so far at all. I sweat pretty much ALL THE TIME and I have a tan on my feet (which is weird because I have not been out in the sun). I love you all! Have a great time in America and make comments or ask me questions--I can respond just about once a week.

Love always,
Amy Elizabeth

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What Will I Be Doing in Ghana? I'll Tell You...

Ever since I was little, I wanted to go to Africa to cure AIDS and help all the little babies. However, as I have grown up, I have seen that it is not so much about fixing a problem. I cannot ever conclude that a country is broken or that something is missing from it, especially when I have never been there personally. I have no longer focused on fixing Africa. Instead, I want to know more about the people who live there. I want to learn. I want to explore a culture so different from my own that I will need to drastically change my behavior in order to fit in (it actually sounds a lot like when I arrived in Utah!). I will not be looking for what Africans need to do better. I do not need to change a thing about their culture. Instead, I will be looking to Ghanaians for inspiration on how to positively affect American culture...

In the United States, we frequently hear the word obesity thrown around. It truly is a problem for this generation. For good reason! If I may generalize a bit, the majority of children have so much interaction with technology that forces them into sedentary behavior for most of the day. Not to mention the classroom environment is usually a sedentary one as well. A child may sit for 6 hours in school, getting up rarely to move at a low intensity to the water fountain or bathroom, and return home to watch TV or play video games. You may be thinking, well, at least they have gym class. You may be astonished to find out that only 17% of American middle schools mandate a physical education class for the students. 17%!!! So, where else do children become physically active? Organized sports? Playing outside under the direction of parents to "turn off the TV for a little and go get some fresh air"? This is a part of what I will be finding out in my study. Of course, changes in nutrition are part of the increase in rates of obesity. However, my study will only focus on physical activity.

You may be thinking ok, I can see why you would be working with the middle school kids, but why are you focusing on core stability in this age group? First of all, let me define core stability in terms of my project. I am defining it as balance about the hips. There is more to it, of course. The abdominal, back, and leg muscles all play a huge role in developing core stability. Bones are also important because the joints about the hips are the only places that can move, and joints are made up of bones, muscles, and nerves. So core stability is that which aids us every time we sit up straight. It helps us do push ups and sit-ups. It helps us walk down the stairs. It is even an important component in gait (walking). Since core stability is such a crucial development to have, improving quality of life for all people, I have chosen to focus on how physical activity (type, duration, and intensity) correlates to core stability.

So why did I choose Ghana? It is not simply because it's in Africa and I have always dreampt of going there. In Ghana, children carry huge water baskets on their heads from the ages of 3-4 and up. They carry lots of things on their's how they transport belongings. In addition, schoolchildren do not have backs on their chairs. Can you imagine sitting upright for 6 hours every day? According to the principle of use, which states that the more you use a muscle the more it develops and the less you use the muscle the more it atrophies, these children must have amazing core stability.

So basically, I want to know what it is in their culture, specifically, that differs from ours. What can we learn as parents, teachers, administrators, coaches, and caregivers of any type that can improve the fitness of children so that they can experience improved quality of life? What are Ghanaians doing that we have not learned yet, and how can we implement it into our everyday routines? Therefore, I am questioning the question: how do Ghanaians and Americans differ in core stability, and how is that core stability correlated to different types, durations, and intensities of physical activities?

Any questions?

I love you all...wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Heads up...I will be going to Ghana on May 5th, so mark your calendars

Hey Everybody!

I just wanted to let you all know that I will be going to Ghana on May 5th. I'll be in CT from April 27th-May 5th and in Boise from April 22nd-April 27th. I will hopefully be updating this blog for a while so you can see my goings-on, internet permitting. We supposedly get to use the internet once a week, but it's tricky internet that may or may not work. I guess we'll just have to see. I get back to Salt Lake on August 6th. Until then, try your bests not to miss me too much.

I love you all, and I hope that summer in America is awesome.

Love always,
Amy Elizabeth