Monday, April 21, 2014

KRA…. Goodbye

 I’m pretty sure I’ve rewritten this post about 5 times…. It’s my last week and I’m finding it extremely difficult to find words that describe what I have been doing, saying and feeling these past few days. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted…. I did this on purpose. I felt that I needed to really enjoy and really live my last few weeks/days in Ghana rather than trying to process. However, with a week left it’s time to process…So here we go….

Things at CORM have been hectic yet exciting! It’s exams time that means the students really need to buckle down and get studying! I have been very busy with tutoring students and providing extra support and help for those who are struggling. I still have my groups going despite the preparations for exams.
My Empowerment group has been making such amazing progress! The three students are really comprehending and applying the topics we discuss in our group. For example one of the students had a conflict with a peer. The peer was constantly bothering him and verbally insulting my student. Initially the student’s response to his peer’s behavior was to “beat” him, however after coming to me and explaining the situation the student was able to see the consequences in his initial response to the behavior. The student was able to verbally resolve the situation using “I” statements that we previously had discussed in-group. Not only did the student seek advise from an adult, they were able to use their words to resolve the conflict which would have normally dealt in a physical manner. I was so proud of the student and felt that what we have been working on the whole term has really gotten through to the kids. The empowerment group is defiantly the group that I have made very close relationships with each of the students and have learned the most through our time together. I look back to the first day of group and cannot believe how much progress the students have made, I have never been so proud of a group of kids. On the last day of school I really struggled to say goodbye to the students. I spent the whole day with the students, we played basketball, watched a movie, just chatted, and they also cheered me on as the female staff challenged the female students to a big game of football! They encouraged me just as much as I encouraged them throughout the term. As the day was coming to an end, I said my goodbyes to each of the students. I gave each student a letter and a small silly gift that I know they will appreciate. They have taught me so much and will forever have a place in my heart I am so proud of those three and I have no doubt that they will all do amazing things.
My other groups have gone very well the past couple of weeks. My motors skills group has been such a fun group to facilitate! I love thinking of new games, activities and exercises we can do to promote better motor functioning! My last week I had each of the students challenge each other to a 1:1 dribbling competition! Oh my goodness was that a sight to see! They were so funny as they ran up and down the court talking smack and trying to control the ball. They also have come so far with their skills. For example one of the students whom I have been working with since I started, he was unable to hold a pencil correctly and color within the lines, by the end of the term he colored a very intricate picture which I still have today. He has come so far and through the term I have seen this student become so proud and aware of his achievements. It’s honestly the most humbling experience I have ever had to see a child become so proud of himself.
My behavior group has defiantly been a rocky road; the group was created the last month of the term so it was really difficult to make progress in such a short amount of time.  However the students did have fun and I’d like to think they learned a few things. The last week I worked on following directions with the students. I set up a scavenger hunt for the students. Each “Post” had a place, person and activity, which they had to find, greet and complete to receive the next direction. It was so fun to get the staff involved and to see the students work as a team to receive the “prize” at the end!
So I’ll tell you a little about OUR day. OUR day is the last day of the term before vacation. It’s called OUR day because it’s supposed to be for the teachers to clean their rooms, finish any outstanding grading and to hold parent teacher conferences. Ha Ha Ha… it’s MOST DEFIANTLY not the teachers’ day! It’s basically a free day for the students to run around, play, chat and cause all kind of mayhem! It was defiantly a new experience… I would compare it to the American “field day” where there are a bunch of fun activities for the students. However on OUR day there is NO organization or planned activities. The students can really do anything they want. They also were allowed to bring their own food from home. Some of the students brought biscuits, Abolo, Jollof rice, rice and stu, and fufu! After lunch the female staff challenged the female students to a football game. Of course as a soccer player (Many years ago) I played! Let me tell you… We as the staff did NOT do well! It score was 1-4 and we only got a goal because there was a “penalty” which was completely false! It was a successful day and such a fun way to end my time at CORM. Overall my time at CORM has been amazing and I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to work there and with such amazing, diverse, and loving people.

Save Them Young (STY)
             Well I haven’t been too active at STY because the kids have been really sick lately! It’s such a shame. I feel really bad because I only went a few times while I was in Ghana. I wanted to go more however due to the illness and my class schedule I wasn’t able to really go as much as I’d like. However, I did go on Saturday, the other Obruni’s in the area and I facilitated a medical assessment for all the children and staff! It was an ALL day event! We completed assessments on all the children and staff after a 7-hour day! We split the kids into groups based on their age and while the doctor saw one group we scheduled activities for the others. Let me know you the more we tried to organize the more chaotic it become! Some of the people I went with have never been to STY so it was really interesting to see their reactions to the craziness of this place. Despite the madness of STY I had a chance to spend some more time with the four children I had previously done individual sessions. I really missed those kiddos, I forgot how happy and goofy they were. The one little girl who I had formed a strong connection with was with me all day! She followed me everywhere and we just played, sang, talked and really just enjoyed each other’s company for the last time.  She is such a special girl, it never ceases to amaze me that despite her disability she is the most smiley, happy, charismatic girl I have ever met. She will forever have a special place in my heart. I really believe Save Them Young has a lot of potential and with a lot of help from caring, passionate, hard working people it can become a thrive facility that encourages healthy and loving relationships for children who are orphaned.

            I have not traveled much in my last few weeks. Other than spending a night in Accra experiencing the nightlife, my weekend have been reserved for quality time with my family. This weekend Katy and I are hoping to go to Ada and get some beach time in before we leave. I think some beach, sun and relaxation is exactly what we need. I wished I traveled a bit more while in Ghana but I would not trade the time I have spent with my family for anything. Because of vacation Michelle and Elisa have been at their grandparents for the weekdays because Mark and Rebecca are both working. The house is SO quiet since they are gone, I really miss them but the weekends are full of fun with those two little girls. As my time is coming to an end I really appreciate the Boateng family. I appreciate their willingness to host and accept me as one of their own. I know I will forever have a family in Ghana. This next week will be really hard as I say my goodbyes to not only Mark and Rebecca but to the girls as well.

My plans for this upcoming week
            So I leave on Sunday the 27th and arrive in the States Monday the 28th. My week is SO jammed packed with activities.
So today, Monday, I went to CORM for the last time. My fellow Obruni’s and I helped out with a Easter Egg hunt for the kids! It was so much fun! I can’t wait to post pictures. So I got to spend a little more time with the residents of CORM. It was hard saying goodbye today because I knew that that would be the last time I see some of those students. That place will always be in my thoughts which are filled with happy memories and many learning experiences!
Tuesday I will be traveling to Keswa that is about 2 hours away from my home. I will be visiting the Grace House, which is a home for young pregnant teens who were living on the streets. The home was created by two young females (20 &21 yrs) they saw a need for young teens and they created a program to address the need. They currently have only one teen and still are in the trial and error stage of their program. They also have a toddler who has a sever disability, from what I have gathered it’s similar to either Cerebral Palsy, Wolf horns syndrome or something of the sorts. The child was taken out of his village about 6 months ago because he was going to be killed. His disability was seen as demonic and in this particular village they had decided to kill him. So now he is at the Grace House and the woman caring for him has little experience or knowledge about his needs. I had expressed to one of the ladies that I have had some (very limited) experience with such disabilities and may possibly have some sensory, cognitive and overall therapy that may be of some use. So I will be spending Tuesday and Wednesday training the caregiver and really assessing his needs.
Thursday-Saturday, I actually have no idea what I have planned. I know that Katy and I want to travel to either Osu in Accra or go to Ada. Either way we are determined to get some beach time in! I’ll let you know what we end up doing! I know Saturday I will be spending most of the day with my family just enjoying the last few days (really hours) we have with each other.
Sunday, I will attend church just as I do with my family every Sunday. Then I will spend the day either packing or enjoying their company. My supervisor will then take Katy and I to the air port around 6 and we depart Accra at 10 pm….. I arrive in New York around 5 in the morning on Monday then arrive in Minneapolis around 10 am.

Other Comments
Well ha like I said I have struggled with writing this post because this is most likely my last or second to last post. I guess leaving hasn’t fully hit me yet; it comes and goes in little spurts. One minuet I’m okay and ready to go back then the next minuet I’m dreading Sunday. I love Ghana; I love the culture, the people, the food, the compassion, the willingness, the humor, and just the overall life of Ghana. It’s so hard to explain how this place has impacted my life. I’m not going to lie I am very nervous about coming back to the States. I know it’s going to be a culture shock but I’m also scared of how my perceptions have changed and how that might influence my life in America. In our last class our professor went over some of the common difficulties students have when studying abroad, it was really helpful and insightful. I’m such I’ll transition fine; it’s just going to be a huge change. I am excited to see my family and friends again! I really miss everyone and especially school! I absolutely LOVE Carthage and cannot wait to get back on campus and live out my final days as a senior the proper way! I’ll most likely spend my first week back in the States with my family in Minnesota then visit my dad and Georgi in Wisconsin later on in the week as I travel back to Kenosha. I can’t wait to see my sisters and my baby niece. She’s 8 Months now and has grown so much while I was away! My sisters have been religiously keeping me updated with her through pictures and face timing. I also can’t wait to eat American food again. I do LOVE Ghanaian food and will REALLY miss it but I do miss things like pickles, ranch, burgers, stakes and a good glass of wine. So this is a message to my family… You better have your cook on because I’m ready to eat J Well… I think that’s about it I’m sure I left things out throughout my time here in Ghana but I’ll be posting pictures and videos that might explain my experience here better than this blog can!
As always thank you for your love and support through my journey. This experience has influenced me in so many ways and it would not have been without the love and support from everyone. I cannot wait to see you all again and share my amazing time with you!

Marya J

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Hello Family and Friends!!

AGO!...... AME! This is a calling used to get people attention. Ago is the greeting and Ame is the response. I’ve actually only heard it in the Markets here, however on my last trip to Ghana we used it ritually with out tour guide. For my teacher friends this might be a fun way to regain the attention of your class!

Well the term is coming to an end at City of Refuge Ministries (CORM). Next week is finals weeks so the students have been busy preparing and prepping for their exams. As a result of their reviewing I was not able to take all my groups last week and this week. Well I guess I wasn’t able to take my groups this week because I have been home sick the last few days. I feel horrible not being at school and spending time with the kids before schools out. Luckily I have about 3 or so more weeks here so even once the term ends I’ll be able to visit the kids at compound! Last week on Tuesday I spent the night at CORM. I’m sure most of you saw on Facebook I now am a true Ghanaian and have Long braids!!!! I absolutely LOVE them! A staff member from CORM who is enrolled in a trade school focusing on hair was able to do my hair! She has done many others hair so I was really confident that she would do an awesome job. AND SHE DID! She said they could stay in for about 2 months if I want them to. I’m not going to lie I’m very tempted to keep them in for graduation but I’m not totally sure yet! I know I’ll keep them in for a while because I defiantly want to come back to the States with a BANG! It did take awhile to do my whole head. We started on Tuesday, then worked on it on and off on Wednesday then completely finished on Thursday! I know that seems like forever and believe me I was pretty anxious, but it was totally worth it! The total process took 6 hours. My process took a long time because I had very limited time that she could work on my hair. They have been in for a week now and I am so happy I got them done! Like I said things have been a little slow this week because I have been sick so I don’t have too much to report on in regards to my internships.

Well last Friday after my class with my supervisor I had a mini reality check. I’m going back to the States in less then a month and I have A LOT of work to do in terms of my schooling in the States. I have to complete my “thesis” by the 17th of April and I have 2 videos to work on and another class to finish up. So needless to say I needed to get creaking on my homework. So my plan WAS to stay home on Saturday. My host family planned to go to a funeral in Elima, a Aunt passed away within the family. Although it was directly related to the family, they still were expected to go and “show face”. Now for those of you who don’t recall from my last post, Elima is about 3 or so hours away, so it’s a drive. Well like I said my plan was to stay home and work on homework however, my family had different plans for me. They said I had to go because I was family and I must show face with them…. Plus homework is boring! So obviously I had to go which I was NOT opposed to at all! We traveled 3 hours there, I mostly slept but when I was awake the view was Gorgeous! The color of all the bushes and trees were such an eye-catching deep green. Once we arrived to the village where the Aunty had lived, we met the family members and close friends. The chief of the village was also present. I could spot which person was the Chief because he wore a traditional black fabric that wrapped around his body. He also had many gold chains hanging from his neck. As we took our seats a mod of small children surrounded me. Mark and Rebecca both laughed and said “ Oh no Marya is in trouble”. I’m assuming by everyone’s reactions to my presents they were not expecting an Obruni at the festivities. The children got cleared away by one of the Elders who then proceeded with the greeting. I’m not sure in all funerals but at this one we shook the hands of the immediate family about 5 times. First we were greeted as we sat down, they were all in a line (about 10 people) and shook each of our hands. We then presented our donation to the family in respect for their loss. They again made their rounds shaking our hands. After that round of shaking hands we went to a different part of the community that was the “resort” that’s were the food and beverages were offered. We sat right on the beach as we ate our DELICIOUS Fufu and enjoyed a Malt. We stayed at the tables for about an hour or so. I strolled the beach one last time before we rejoined the festivities. Once we arrived back to the main area, we AGAIN we’re greeted. We stayed for 15 minutes or so to show face, and then we decided to leave which as you probably guess we were greeted again! We stayed for a total of 2 hours and drove a total of 8 hours. I was so tired but astonished by the respect and dedication people have for funerals in Ghana. It truly was an amazing experience. Well that’s all my traveling I have done lately. I’m hoping to do a little more before I go back to the States!

Comments/ Thoughts
It’s really hard to believe I’m leaving in less than a month. I try not to think about it but it’s always on my mind. It’s just going to be a big change from what I’ve come to know in the past 3 months. I have almost everything squared away for graduation, just a few minor details to finish up but nothing to fret over. I am excited to see my family and friends and enjoy my last month as a undergrad student at the school I love and call home.. Carthage J Also a BIG thanks to all of those who sent their love and good Vibs my way this week! I’m feeling much better so I’m sure I’ll be back to my full self tomorrow.

That’s all for now! As always thank you for your love and support through my amazing journey!

By the way this is a picture of me in my Sweet braids!!! 

Marya J

Monday, March 24, 2014


Why is Ghana the MotherLand? 

There are many reasons why Ghana is called The Mother Land, the reason that my Host family and some of my friends say, Ghana is called the Mother Land because Ghana is an Island of Peace, Despite the numerous of conflicts that surround Ghana the country has remained strong and together. I feel that this is a beautiful and pure explanation of why Ghana is the Motherland. 

So this weekend has been very busy yet relaxing at the same time! I just recently posted pictures on facebook and on an older post just to give you a visual of what my days are like here in Ghana! I really hope you enjoy them! I have many more to post as well as videos however, due to the cost of uploading photos and viedos I’m going to wait to add more until I come home!

My work at CORM has been VERY busy! I facilitate 3 groups throughout the week (2 or more times a week) I also am doing reading groups every day. The reading groups are designed to empower and enhance the student’s abilities to read. Everyday I go into at least 2 classrooms and read with the students. The students are separated into three groups (Below, Basic, and Advanced readers) I usually am paired up with the Below group. We then have a book to read which we will read until they have fully mastered the book. The other helpers in the room have the all children read aloud together. I find this is distracting because there are over 20 kids in one classroom and reading different books. I have come up with my own strategy, I have my group divided into two groups and each student will read one page if the student can read the page without any mistakes that “team” gets one point. I find making the reading into a game motivates the students to do better! In my empowerment group we discussed Positive and Negative self talk and peer pressure. I struggled with the first day to engage the students. The second day I found that acting really helps the kids to comprehend the topic. So I had different staff members place negative and positive characteristics that others can “label” you. I had the student identify the positive and negative words. We then took all the negative words we ever have been “labeled” with them we burnt the words. The students responded very well and strongly to this activity. I felt very empowered and fulfilled.


I have not been able to go to STY because there has been an outbreak of the mumps. My supervisor has asked me not to come in just in case I get sick. Even though I have had the mumps vaccination it’s better to be safe than sorry! However I did learn that 20 students have been sponsored to go to school and 12 more are in the process for getting sponsored. So that’s great NEWS!!

So two weeks ago I went to Cape Coast as my “Spring Break” I took Wednesday through Friday off of work and class. I traveled with Katy and Kirsten we left on Wednesday afternoon and I came back Sunday night. The bus/ Tro tro there took about three hours. Once we arrived in Cape Coast I contacted my friend Blankson who I met last year during my travels in Ghana. He picked us up from the bus spot and took us to Cape Coast Castel. He is the head tour guide at both Elima and Cape Coast Castles. He literally wrote the book on the castles. It was great to see him and catch up with our old friend. The castles were breath taking. Last year when I traveled to Ghana we did tour both castles so I had an idea of the history behind each castle. It was still very emotional and overpowering to walk throughout the castle that once was used for slave trade. We stayed at Elima bridge house, which was right across from the Elima Castel. We then spent the next day on the beach, we were allowed to spend the day at the Elima beach resort which had a BEUTIFUL pool and was right on the beach. We all got pretty burnt but we enjoyed our time. That night we ate at the Cape Coast Castel Restaurant. Then we were walking to get a taxi when we heard drumming. There was a performance by the group called “African Footsteps” they go around Africa and preform and teach their style of drumming and dancing. The next day was filled with sun, swimming, and shopping! I had a FANTASTIC time in Cape Coast!
This last weekend I visited Katy at her placement in Matsekope. She lives in a village outside the Ada region. It was very interesting to see how different our placements are. We visited her work place and visited with her family. The family she stays with, are apart of royal family. Her housemother is the sister of the Chief. There are also three young girls that live in the house as well. The village is very different from my home in Mataheko. I felt that life moved much slower in the village compared to where I live. I am having a difficult time explaining the difference so I’ll just show you when I get a chance to post more photos. Pictures will give you a better idea of where Katy and I live!  I enjoyed my weekend living the “village” Life however it was nice to return to my home and family in Mataheko.

I think that is all for now! I’ll post soon!
Thank you for all your support and encouragement throughout my journey!

Marya J

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


This is at the Autism Awareness Training Center  (AATC)
There are ALOT of kids to one small room, they are hoping to fundraise to move to a larger building!

 My silly buddy who not only LOVED to take my camera and take photos but who LOVED to do silly faces!

 This is on March 6th which is the Independence day for Ghana.
The cadets will march throughout the town.

 This is my pal who lives in Doryume the town next to where I work at CORM. She is such a sweetie!
This is one of the Silly girls who I work with... We were supposed to be using the bucket to fetch water but she had some other plans....

This is my buddy at Save Them Young. She is such a silly girl. All the kids at STY LOVE to play with tires either sitting in them or rolling them. It's defiantly the simple things that bring happiness. 

I'll post later this week with my day to day events. I just thought I would share some Photos! 
And just so everyone knows I did get permission to post these pictures and notice I do not add names or ages to any photos just to ensure confidentiality! 

As always thank you for your love and support! 

Marya :) 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Da yie ...... Good Night

Hello Friends and Family!!

This is my week 9 of my amazing ADVENTURE! I cannot tell you how serial this experience has been thus far. A few times a day I have to remind myself where I am and what I’m doing with my time. I love every bit of my placement, culture, and the people. I do miss home I’m not going to lie, I guess I miss more of the amenities such as water, electricity, feeling clean, easy/fast transportation, and of course faster and unlimited internet. Ha Although I miss all those things I would rather be deprived of that excessive things and extend my stay!

Things at CORM have been the same. I have my self- esteem group every day. However I will no longer be doing one- on – ones and rather I will add 3 more groups to my day! I will be facilitating an Anger management group, Respect and appropriate behavior group, and a social skills group. I will also be going into the KG classes and teach about emotions and appropriate behavior! It pretty abnormal to just be adding these groups in the middle of the term but I love the flexibility and freedom to add or discontinue my services as needed. This week my Self-esteem group and I created a large poster to hang on our bulletin. On the poster we came up with characteristics that make up our own identity. The students were really proud and excited about the project. It is now proudly hanging outside our classroom.
STY: My days always seem to be different each time I go to Save Them Young. This week I did do my individuals with the four students like usual. I also created a new project for myself to occupy my time. As I was playing with the little kids I came across a VERY disorganized room filled with donated items such as Clothing, book, toys, ect. I was so excited to see all the donations however I was confused why there was no organization to the items and WHY the items weren’t being used! So it is not my task to organize this room with a few of the older kids. I know this is not a social worker task however I see the need and I plan to satisfy the need! I still play with the children and basically hug and kiss babies all day which is TOTALLY fine with me! Some good news to share is that there is ANOTHER housemother that joined the Save Them Young team. This is so exciting to see! Within my time spent as STY I have seen 5 women join the team and provided the needed care for all the children. The orphanage is in much better condition now than is was when I first arrived. The facility is much cleaner and more organized. The children seen to have most of their basic needs met as well which is always a good thing!
SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE UK STUDENTS!!!- All the kids miss you and wish you were still there! They all call me all of your names! I really don’t know if they know my real name. You guys did such amazing work there and really impacted the kids!
I have a social life?! Haha I have been CRAZY busy that sometime I feel like my whole life is internship, which honestly I don’t mind! However, I do have a social life. Amy, Katy, Rikki, and myself often travel together on the weekends. This last weekend I was unable to travel with them to a local beach because I have a wedding to go to which I’ll talk about next! On Wednesday nights there is a bible study within the community I live in. Rikki, Amy and myself attend along with other volunteers from CORM and other Obruni missionary families. The bible study is a time when all the Obrunies can get together for a “check in” just to discuses any cultural issues or just American social time. Of course there is an actual bible study aspect to the group. I still have yet to meet up with my friend Michael whom I met last time I was in Ghana. I’m hoping to meet with him this weekend or next week! I’ll let you know how that goes!

 All right everybody so my wish came true! I went to A Ghanaian wedding which was AMAZING! The bride and groom are friends my Mark and Rebecca’s (House parents). They went to Secondary school with the couple. There were many similarities and many differences between a wedding in America and Ghana.
The bride wears a white dress with a vale. There was a mother- son; and daddy- daughter dance! I thought that was really sweet! The wedding took place in the church that we attend on Sundays. The reception was outside at the Marina University. It was BEAUTIFUL! During the ceremony, which took about 2 hours, there were 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen. The church was FILLED! People were even outside listening to the service. The color scheme was white and royal purple. One difference I noticed immediately was that guests wore all different types of clothing ranging from prom dresses to jeggings and a nice top. Also the guests are welcome to wear any color. I saw people in WHITE dress, which in the States is not common for anyone besides the bride to wear white. Also close friends of the couple wore purple (the color scheme) to signify their close relationship with the couple. I wore purple because Rebecca told me to. It was a beautiful ceremony. Although in true Ghana fashion the service was to start at 1 and didn’t start till 2:30. Also the guests were welcome to come at ANYTIME even in the middle of the service. This is much different than the States! We only stayed for a short time at the reception because we had Michele and Elisa with us and they were getting restless. I was SO honored and blessed to take part in the wedding and experience a true Ghanaian Wedding! I wish I took pictures, although it was completely acceptable to take photos I felt uncomfortable taking pictures because I did not know the couple.
Other Comments
This experience is honestly indescribable. I am so blessed to have this opportunity. I just saw on Facebook that we will be graduating in less than 3 months and somehow I don’t believe its true. Maybe it’s because of the distance and the fact that I’m not on Campus but I cannot believe I will be leaving in 2 months and graduating in less than 3 months. TIME IS MOVING BY WAY TO FAST!

Well I think that’s all for now! I’ll post again hopefully next Sunday!

As always thank you for your love and support as I continue my amazing journey!

Marya J

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Me ma wo aha.........Good Afternoon

Hello everyone!!!

I hope you all enjoyed the pictures I posted! I will put more up in a few weeks. Downloading and uploading items takes a lot of credit for Internet so I will post pictures periodically! I never really described how Internet and phones work here in Ghana. I purchased a modem, which looks like a thumb drive and add credits to the program, which allows me Internet access. I buy about 15 Cedis every 3-4 weeks depending on how often I use my Internet. For the phone my supervisor provided me with a phone (the old old Samsung), which is very basic, used for calls and texting. I do the same thing as the Internet; I have to buy credits, which I buy every 2 weeks.

Work/ Internship

My past couples of weeks have been very busy with meetings, travel, field trips, and more! At Save Them Young, I have been pretty busy with individual sessions! My friend Katy went with me to the agency and took a few pictures of me working with the kids so I’ll have her share those ASAP! It’s pretty exciting at Save Them Young right now because they just recruited three more housemothers! Even within the past weeks or so there is a big change is organization, sanitation, and overall well-being of the children! There is still a lot of chaos however it seems to be more manageable chaos now. At my placement CORM I am making a lot of progress with my group. We have officially moved on from emotions and progressing towards the meaning of self-identity and increasing self-esteem. I have a great relationship with my group we joke, chat, and play a lot of Futbol (soccer).
This week at CORM the students had mid terms so I did not have my group, this week I focused on my curriculum planning and future ideas for groups. I finished all my work by Wednesday, which gave me a day of free time. I had a great idea to visit an agency that I have previously visited while I was in Ghana last year. Autism Awareness Center Training (AACT) is the ONLY program in Ghana to cater to children with autism. I called the Director Aunty Serwah and asked if I could come to visit. My visit turned into a full staff training session and a collaborative meeting with a speech pathologist, Special Education Specialist, and a disability “lobbyist” from Accra. All the professionals have either helped at AACT or have a child in the program! I had the opportunity to share my personal experience of working with children with Autism/ other disabilities; I also led a staff training session demonstrating effective communication skills and sensory therapy for the children. I felt very empowered throughout the day at the center; I felt that the staff and other professional really valued my information and suggestions that I had to offer. Days like that are the days I know I made the BEST decision to complete my final internship in Ghana. I am so fortunate to have this opportunity to experience a completely different culture and amazing people.

On Friday my class, which consists of Katy, Beth, and myself took a fieldtrip to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.  We participated in the morning rituals and took part in the reflection. I have never experienced any AA or similar meetings so this was a first time experience for me! At the Center they base their program and The A.A. Curriculum. It was very inspiring to see a program like this be successful in Ghana. The awareness of AODA like many other diseases are very limited and not acknowledged in the culture. This may be due to the stigma, cost, and overall knowledge of addiction. 

Two weeks ago Katy, Amy, Rikki, Janet, and myself traveled to Adafuo. We stayed at a resort, which the sand was our floor and palm branches were our roof and sides of the hut! It was such a fun experience. We stayed right in the middle of Volta River and The Ocean! It was such a beautiful and relaxing place! I finished two of my books in our time spent there. I also had AMAZING tilapia which I’m sure was caught that morning! We met some other foreigners from the U.K and U.S.A. The next weekend Janet and Rikki met up with our new friends and traveled together to Okosombo. No matter where you are from people always are so friendly and interested in your story of what brought you to Ghana. I’m hoping to travel to Cape Coast in a few weeks as my Spring Break to visit a friend of mine whom I met last year while I was in Ghana! I can’t wait to tour the Elmina and Cape Coast Castel which both were used in the Slave Trade.  I’ll keep you posted on my travels as I continue my blog! Yesterday (Saturday) I traveled with Amy, Rikki, and Kristin to the Accra Art Market! We arrived early so it was a relaxing day to shop. I purchased some jewelry, paintings, and clothing! The Markets here are relatively cheap you just have to know how to haggle. The sellers will give you the Obruni price, which is really high! Most will settle for about half the original price. 

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I haven’t been too homesick as of now. I did facetime with my family yesterday, which made me really miss them! My niece Ebba is getting SOOO Big so it’s really hard to miss out on those major mile stones like rolling over which she’s doing!! My host family makes me feel right at home and apart of the family so it’s makes it easier being away from my family. I was counting the weeks until I’m back home and it’s only 9 weeks away!! I cannot believe it’s that soon, I am definitely NOT ready to go home yet, I still have so much to do and achieve! I feel like I just arrive.

Well I believe that is all for now! I’ll be sure to blog next week sometime to keep you updated on my journey!

As always thank you for all your love and support!

Marya! J