At the end of most days, I take a short walk up the slightly inclined path from the teachers bungalow where I live to the main road and community. I pass through the bush and by a couple small farms before I make it to where the majority of the people live in the small village of Samanyhia. This is usually my favorite part of the day. The air cools off as the sun begins to go down and I get to take time to visit with the people that have grown to be my friends over the past four months of living here. I always walk past dozens of kids along the way that yell out several times, “Bra Yaw!!” (In Ghana, you receive a name depending on the day of the week that you were born. Being a Thursday born I received the name Yaw and bra means brother).
A large majority of the people in my community don’t speak English very well so it can be challenging conversing with them. I rely on the language training we received or things I’ve picks up on since we have been here. Although my ability to speak their language isn’t very good they are still always so happy if I come by. Being in a rural area like Samanyhia, the occupation of most is farming. Even after a long tiring day of weeding their fields, the farmers will invite me into their homes and always offer me their chair despite them being much more tired than me. I enjoy talking with them, asking how their crops are looking, asking for any suggestions they may have for our garden at the school, or if they were experiencing any troubles with their crops that I could help with.
A few afternoons every week, some of the boys and men will gather in the field in front of the primary school to practice soccer. I’ll occasionally tag along and play despite them being much more skilled than me. The visits that I enjoy most are to the teachers that live here in the village. All of the teachers at my school live here as well as several others that commute to nearby primary or junior high schools. The teachers are mostly males from the ages of 25-30 and they all speak great English because it’s a requirement to teach in English at the schools. They’re all a lot like me, laid back and easy going so it’s fun to go and just hang out with them. They’ll normally ask me every question imaginable, things about my home, how school works in the U.S., what big cities that I’ve been to or how the weather is in the U.S. One question from a guy that I remember was him trying to confirm whether or not vampires and zombies were real in the U.S. because of what he’d seen on a TV show.
Being a cook of limited things, I also enjoy learning from a couple of teachers at my school how to prepare different types of food, my favorite being cabbage stew with boiled yam. Whoever I go and see in the afternoons the visits are always eventful because you never know what you’ll see or hear. If I’m ever having a down day, the people and their joyful spirit never fail to rub off on me. Upon arrival to my community in September, I was wondering if the people would question, “what’s this white dude doing here?” My question was quickly answered and is reassured every afternoon when the people politely and happily greet me as I stroll through the community. I look forward to the next few months that I will spend here with the people that have become from friends and I will surely miss them when I go.
Dylan Lilley is a Plant & Soil Science graduate from North Carolina State University. Before becoming an AgriCorps Member, Dylan raised hogs and row crops on his family’s farm.