Kofi Baako and Esi Dadzie Come to Visit

On our second day in Ghana, Shannon led an overnight SaS trip to the village of Atonkwe for a Cultural Immersion experience. We arrived in the village early in the morning and were immediately greeted by Chief Na Na and his council of village elders. We all received Ghanaian Fante names in a traditional naming ceremony. During the ceremony we were each given a small taste of water followed by taste of Coca-cola. When they do the ceremony with newborn babies, they use a single drop of water and single drop of Schnapps (instead of the Coke). The symbolism here is key: just as the baby can taste the difference between water and liquor, he or she will be able to discern truth from falsehood as he or she grows up and becomes a contributing member in the community. My name is Kofi Baako, which means the first-born who was born on a Friday. The family I was originally to stay with had no children, so I would have been their first-born son. I ended up staying with the same family as Shannon (a.k.a. Esi Dadzie because she was born on a Sunday), but I retained my first-born name.

We were blown away by the warm and welcoming hearts of the people of the village. It’s amazing how intense experiences can form tight bonds in a very short time. The memory of time spent with our kind, welcoming, loving, teaching host Emmeline will travel with us through the rest of our voyage and lives. She opened her home and heart to us, giving us her bed while she walked to a nearby village to sleep at her mother’s house. She stayed up late into the evening teaching us Fante words, sharing with us Ghanaian culture and history, and telling us folk tales about Ananzi, the tricky and wicked spider man. She is a gifted teacher and now a good friend!

Emmeline got up early (we did, too, with a little help from the village roosters) and took us on a walk around the village. We saw the river used for washing and swimming, the sand used for making cement bricks, and the village school where she worked as a student teacher during her practicum semester at Cape Coast University. She will soon earn her Bachelor’s degree in education and hopes to be placed with the young children–Kindergarten 1 or 2 in Ghana–which would be Kindergarten or first grade in the States. Her future class will be lucky to have her!

After breakfast, it was already time to leave. We said emotional goodbyes to our new friends and climbed back onto the bus with smiles on our faces (and, in Shannon’s case, a few happy tears as well). There’s no question we’ll keep in touch. In Fante, the word medase means thank you. We have many a medase to say: to Emmeline, to Chief Na Na, to the entire village of Atonkwe, and to Ghana as a whole. Medase, friends.

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