Memoirs of an Expedition

Post-Trip Learning Diary: Expectations (Destination Based)

Well, before the trip, I had a minimal set of expectations. It was hard for me to form an idea of what to expect and therefore, I could not clearly express my expectations. Few of my expectations were directed toward the people of Jukwa in particular (and Ghana in general). Always ready to exchange a conversation, Ghanians are very friendly and remain cheerful. Besides I was surprised that most of them could converse in English. So most of the times, I did not face any problem while communicating with them.

Ghana surprised me a bit. As soon as I got out of the airport, the place felt like home. I did not experience unfamiliarity. The weather was fantastic and the mosquitoes did not bother me at all. I do not know what was all that hype about mosquitoes (before we left for the trip)!

My main expectation was to be able to collect as much information as possible. I faced no problem in collecting data for my research. I had taken so many interviews during the course of the trip. There were very few barriers. Apart from research, we engaged in service-learning. I did not see this coming; it was a totally new experience. Teaching students without holding any relevant teaching qualifications, painting the wall having not held the paintbrush before, administering dosages to infants; I shall never forget all these experiences. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I mostly expected the unexpected. And so did it happen.

I had absolutely no fear before and during the trip. I had immense faith in Amizade who organized the whole trip. And I must say the trip was a success. I did not want to come back. I would’ve stayed back in Ghana for a few more days if I would’ve had no other commitments. Anyhow, this trip was a life-changing experience and I shall never forget it.

Ghana has this aura of living hope, the hope to be better at what you are doing, the hope for the betterment of life. Nine days, only nine days in Ghana,  were sufficient to (positively) alter my perceptions of life and, living.

Post-Trip Learning Diary: Expectations (Personal)

During the seminars in the class, we had the opportunity to present our understanding of the various issues surrounding Ghana. The discussions at class helped us form a mental picture of what Ghana would be like. However, we had undertaken some academic work even during the trip. The head of the department of Development Studies at Cape Coast University delivered a very important lecture on the current state of Ghana. The manager at a micro-finance institution informed us on the whole micro-finance scenario in Ghana.

Apart from the research activities that we were involved in, I did not expect that we would have so much fun, like dancing around the bonfire at a village or the canopy walk at Kakum National Park. The food was amazing. I still miss eating the food prepared at the local house. We journeyed by a bus all throughout. But sometimes, we had to walk and hike. Hiking down the village road, meeting local people, greeting them; I never thought of doing any of these.

Well knowing how to count is just not enough. What about the practical experience? I got the opportunity to administer dosages of Vitamins to infants and children during the community outreach programme. The nurses taught me how to interpret the child health record. I painted the walls of a local library. These were some of the new things that I had learnt. All of these are novel experiences for me. And I am glad that I got the chance to do it all.

Post-Trip Learning Diary: Information Search

Before the trip, I had sought after the most relevant information on Ghana. I read some authentic journal articles that were provided before the trip. However, one of the main objectives of this trip was to acquire firsthand information.

I had to engage in using primary sources of information. Before the trip, I fancied taking a lot of interviews. I had actually taken a lot of interviews during my stay at Ghana. One instance involved me to prepare an on-spot interview schedule for an elementary school teacher (even though I was engaged in the Community Outreach Programme nearby). Every time I met children, I asked them several questions, be it the vendor girl child I met outside Cape Coast Castle or the school students whom I taught. I sought for details from the plantation worker on his way to work and also the manager at the micro-financial institution. All the people that I came across, had something to say, and I, always had something to ask.

Taking interviews and capturing images are not the only ways to collect information. It also includes observing people doing their usual things. Even during the trip, I (silently) watched and used to ask myself why are things they way they are. This triggered my thought processes and also helped me seek ways to fill my empty jar of information.

Post-Trip Learning Diary: Motivations

The trip to Ghana was, undoubtedly, a success. My main academic motivation was, of course, to collect the most possible research materials. The first thing that I did was to observe as much as possible. Keen observation helps one gain a better understanding of things around one.

My ability and my sensibility to communicate with the local people enabled me to collect information regarding my research work. I was curious to talk to people. I asked people as many questions as I could. I had taken a lot of interviews during the course of the trip.

As a person who is very enthusiastic about volunteering, my personal motivations were sought too. In Ghana, we had immense opportunities of service-learning.  We went to the aid of the construction works of a local library at Jukwa. Few of my colleagues and I took an initiative to help the health workers from the Community Health Centre in their monthly Community Outreach Programme in a village named Bremang. It is satisfying to the soul to have participated in such activities where I got some firsthand knowledge and experience.

And of course, all work and no play makes anybody dull and bored. We felt entertained everyday during the trip, be it the thrill of crossing seven bridges over canopies at the Kakum National Park, or relaxing near the beach with  my class fellows.

Pre-Departure Learning Diary: Expectations (Destination Based)

All set, ready to go to Ghana: this is what I have been waiting for. My expectation towards Ghana is that I want to live every minute rejoicing. I have read so much about Ghana which gave me a slight idea. To be honest, I expect the unexpected. I do not form a mental picture of what I want to feel or see.

I am supposed to be mentioning this as a part of my assignment but at the same time I really do not know what to write with regard to the expectations towards Ghana in general and Jukwa in particular. But I have certain expectations towards the people in Ghana including the people in Jukwa. I mainly expect them to be friendly and hospitable, not that I am expecting royal treatment. Besides, the main purpose of my visit to Ghana is to interact with people and to get to know as much as I can.

There are no fears as such. I believe the organization Amizade is taking care of all our needs. So, I have no fears about the program. My fears about Ghana are nil, not that I am claiming to be totally fearless. I just have a little doubt that I will not be able to achieve my goals based on my research requisites. Therefore, my apprehension is limited to my inability to attain my research goals and to collect valuable research materials.

As posted before, I am totally excited for the whole trip. And what’s exciting the most is to expect the unexpected. I would be enthralled with any form of experience as long as I am able to surpass the challenges. And in challenges, I find excitement and therefore happiness.

Pre-Departure Learning Diary: Expectations (Personal)

Being some fortnights away from the departure to Accra, my excitement inflates. Excitement gives birth to certain expectations. My personal expectation, thus, is to contain this excitement and to feed my growing curiosity. In class, we discuss about the articles we have read on Ghana. Discussion and presentations, as per my expectations, do meet the objective of creating a better understanding.

As I read, discuss, think about the various issues regarding Ghana, I have an expectation about being able to apply those concepts in my research work too. Of course, it is not possible until I put in my efforts too. So what I expect the most out of myself is to be able to grasp the concepts and the skills that I will develop on-field.

I expect to meet a lot of people from different walks of life, talk to them, learn from them, and of course, relate with them. I love meeting new people, and interacting with them is one of my expectations too. And lastly, the expectation of the travel experience is to get the best out of the destination and the best it has to offer.

Pre-Departure Learning Diary: Information Search

I had some pre-existing idea and knowledge on Ghana in relation to its location and geography. I knew that Ghana is famous for being one of the world’s best producers of cocoa. I was also aware of its colonial and slave history. As I mentioned earlier in my previous blog post, my love for geography fed me with the awareness of Africa in general, and that includes ideas about the western part of the African continent (and the neighboring countries of Ghana).

Well, I would not regard this very vague idea of Ghana as sufficient. So, during the summer holidays (before the beginning of year 2), I did some internet search on Ghana. I read up on its economy and its culture. I kept myself updated with news on Ghana and I clearly remember the news of the death of its late President John Atta Mills on July this year.

But the most helpful source of information was the field trip reader. It consists of a collection of really interesting and enlightening journal articles. The topics of discussion range from politics to its economy, including vital statistics and information on the development issues concerning the nation. These articles, I consider are among the most reliable sources, mainly because they are written by the most eminent and notable scholars and experts on Ghana. Their extensive research work and analysis, published in distinguished journals are authentic and can be relied upon. Of course, this does not limit one to these given articles only. I will also be referring to the online journals, searching for and reading further more articles on Ghana.

However, reading about the moon in a book is totally different from being able to step on its surface. Similarly, the opportunity to study, live, work, visit and explore Ghana will be at a different level than just reading about it in books and journals. All of the five senses will be active, as it happens to be on visiting any destination, rather than feeding the neurons in my brain with data, statistics and information on Ghana. The experience, I believe, will be more stimulating and will be on a level totally unparalleled to just reading about it.

Pre-Departure Learning Diary: Motivations

It was not really long ago that  I was vested with the power to select my optional module for year 2. The field trip module as an option was floating in my eyes. As I gladly chose the field trip module without giving any further thoughts, I felt blessed with the opportunity to engage in an actual, academic field work.

At high school, I had some field work experience. But it was limited according to my academic aspirations. There was an inner desire to be able to engage in a more extensive research work. This field trip module just serves to satiate my desire. I believe that the various research methodologies and techniques will enable me to acquire skills that shall help me throughout my academic life. Transferable skills, as they are called, will be acquired during the field work.

Being a student of tourism studies, it is essential for me to engage in quality research work. The chance to explore a new place, study and work on issues related to it, and the experience in itself excites me. Developing analytical skills and to be able to critically appraise is essential in today’s world.

I always wanted to see Africa. And I could not afford to lose out on the chance to make my first visit to Africa. Well, it turns out to be Ghana. I have always been interested in world geography and I am an avid reader too. I have always read about countries in Africa, but to be able to visit one is riveting.

The destination in itself is alluring. It is a country in West Africa that is trying to fuel its socio-economic development. It is enticing to be able to explore and probe into Ghana’s present conditions being on-site. The invaluable articles on Ghana’s economy, politics and development issues by eminent scholars and experts on Ghana generate curiosity adequate to pull me towards the destination.

The motivations are several and vary from time to time. However, they are sufficient enough to inspire me to travel, experience, study and breathe Ghana.