As she spent more time in the school, Barbara discovered more cultural distinctions and gained perspective. At first she was surprised at the personal questions she and her colleagues fielded about their own family status and whether or not they had children. But she observed that, “Family is hugely encouraged. It struck me that it is important that women are educated, but it is also stressed that all girls learn how to cook, wash and iron clothes, and keep house.”
Barbara was also intrigued that economics is taught every year of high school, unlike in U.S. schools that might have one economics class, and usually for seniors.
“Every day going to school, I could see what the focus of the country is,” says Barbara. “They are trying to build the economy....they want to see the country flourish. They taught the kids the skills they would need in order to succeed in business and understand the changes in their economy.”
In day to day life, Barbara explains that she also had to adjust her own culture’s view of time and timeliness.
“We waited....in meetings...we waited for everything,” says Barbara. “We would arrive at our appointed time, and even at the American Embassy...we waited. Ghanaian time is very different. It was a half hour to an hour late. We just got used to it. A couple of times toward the end of our stay, we were surprised if people showed up almost on time. Our Ghanaian colleagues said that ‘Americans are very busy’.”
“I cannot view my host country the same as I did pre-travel because I now associate this nation through personal relationships rather than researched facts or newscasts,” reflects Barbara. “I was embraced by these people and this culture and because of this trip - my world has been made smaller and I am more positively interconnected.”
For more reflections on her trip, Barbara kept a blog at: http://blogs.birmingham.k12.mi.us/babich/