Monday, June 5, 2017

Local Celebrities? - Bad Dancers

Week 8 - Becoming local celebrities and questionable dancers…

Mid-term complete and here we are with just over a month left in Bolgatanga. So far we are feeling accomplished with many activities completed but there is still much more to do and we are busy working away in the office. It has been an interesting rainy season; apart from the odd day of rain the temperature is still ridiculously hot and dry (apparently this is abnormal for this time of year). People may say you acclimatise but as I understand it, all that means is you become rather accustomed to consistently damp clothing and a shiny forehead, or in my case a sunburnt one. Tip to any girls – leave your make up at home, it is a waste of luggage weight that could be much better spent on British snacks (We have also come to realise we all have a rather deep obsession with food).

URA Radio Session speaking about BICAF, Fair Trade and the importance to Bolgatanga

On the 10th of May we had our first radio session at URA Radio. Before we went to the studio we prepared and rehearsed topics about BICAF, Fair Trade and the importance of international market, all themes related to the work done here at TradeAid. Our aim was to promote BICAF as a family and social event and get the word out for vendors to sign up as soon as possible so as to get the discounted price. When we arrived at the station the presenter, Sophia, was there to greet us, she has hosted many radio shows with ICS volunteers before and explained the procedure. The group was very excited to be there, not only because the building had air conditioning, but for the majority of us it was our first time featuring on a radio show.

Microphones and headsets on, selfies taken and we were on air. We began introducing ourselves, where we were from and a little bit about our experiences here in Bolgatanga. Throughout the show we spoke about BICAF, the town’s experience last year, and all the vendors that are looking forward to the event this year. We spoke about the importance of the fair for the town of Bolgatanga and promoting the local crafts people. Mid-sentence we unfortunately suffered a power cut and the studio fell into darkness, but fear not it was up and running again in a matter of seconds, oh and then crashed again, but that's not unusal! All in all, the session was relaxed and great fun, as well as being powerful in transcending the message through Bolgatanga and surrounding towns. After such a great success, just call me the next Reggie Yates.

Before the social gossip, a little more about work! We are currently conquering various aspects of the project in our sub teams of marketing, administration and research. As mentioned one of the biggest accomplishments for the marketing team was completing the radio show and getting the word out about BICAF. Nonetheless, we are a hard working team and have also been busy designing leaflets, posters and t-shirts, developing the website and starting to organise the entertainment for BICAF. As far as research is concerned, we have started organising training sessions to develop craft skills for various communities and groups that work with TradeAid. We have also been speaking to Mr Nicolas (TradeAID’s director) to organise data collection for the apprenticeship scheme. We have also been working on proposals for the agriculture of straw and rice. Lone-wolf Mamoon has been a social butterfly in administration and signed up ten vendors for BICAF. This time last year they had five signed up at the end of the three month cohort, you go Captain Mazza.

We also visited the Zorko community, a first for any ICS cohort; we conducted our questionnaire and created our needs assessment. However, as per, we were not to escape without having the classic dance off and every member had to get involved despite dancing ability. It all made for a fantastic ‘go pro moment’ (a phrase the team has taken to pronounce in many questionable Scottish accents).

Basket Weavers at Zorko Community

Now I have detailed our workplace achievements I shall account some of the social activities we have been taking part in, mainly hosted at our local, ‘The Fair and Free’.

We have had two tremendous guided learning sessions in which we have certainly had a taste for the great culture we are living among. Firstly, Mamoon and Mary hosted a ‘streetism’ session, in which they spoke a little about the harsh problems that youth face in Ghana, but then to lift spirits and also as a relevant and useful exercise, we exchanged street slang in English and Ghanaian. I had not heard of lots of the Londoners slang, so I added my own column for ‘Scottish Slang’ #freeeedom. Erasmus led the second guided learning which was on Ghanaian dancing. Firstly we watched youtube videos on famous dances such as Azonto, Agaja and Kpalogo. We were then paired ICV and UKV, had 5 minutes to practise our dance and perform it to the group. Ballet, tap and modern dance lessons were not enough to prepare me for what was next. Christian, my partner, has a natural flare for the ol’ rhythm and movement, so I accepted defeat and of course brought out the drops and the booty pop and shake. As a team we had pains in our sides from laughing so much, I thought that I was actually doing it really well, but on reflection from various snapchat videos I came to the crashing realisation that perhaps I resembled your drunken uncle at a wedding.

Winner and Aman busting some moves at the guided learning

Lastly, how could I forget about the ‘Spar’ obsession that has taken over our cohort and in fact Bolga as a whole. Basically it is a card game that is similar to ‘trumps’. One night Aman and I got some of the UKV boys to teach us how to play, without telling the Ghanaians. Then the next day, cards dished out, and we were on fire, the look on the Ghanaian boys’ faces! Since then we have spent multiple hours at the weekend, after work and any spare moment possible really, playing ‘Spar’. On a slightly less cool note, our shuffling skills are yet to be desired; we discovered the hard way it is a much needed social skill and one of our key goals to learn before our time in Africa comes to an end.

So that is us with only 4 weeks left until we head home and until then we can eat cheese, pizza, burgers… oh and see our family of course. We cannot believe how time flies, see you in another two weeks!

P.S. we have not have wifi in the office for the past 3 weeks so this blog may be very late in reaching you

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