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Advice from Global Ambassadors: The Value of a Home Stay Experience

Getting off the bus in Torgome, I am instantly filled with excitement and fear.  I cannot wait to interact with the children in the village and see their smiling faces, but I am fearful of how I will interact with them.  How do I handle socializing for the next two days in a completely foreign environment?  What about sleeping arrangements?  What will I be eating?  I decide to just relax and let the day take me.

I look around and notice the vast number of children roaming around.  Kids laughing, smiling, dancing.  Mothers wrapping their babies in cloths behind their backs.  A group of men banging on drums. “Welcome to our village, Semester at Sea!” yells the village chief.  Some of the village women start to dance.  Frankly, it looks a little like the chicken dance, but somehow when I try to get up and dance with them, I fail miserably.  My body just cannot move with the music the way they can.  Arms in, back out- now reverse, arms out, back in.  Nope, I still am messing this up.  I decide they are more impressive to watch.

A few minutes later, it is time for the ceremony to begin.  “I now want to call up Samantha Marker.”  I stand up and shuffle my feet to stand in front of one of the village leaders.  “Your name is Abla, for a Tuesday birth, and Docbeda, meaning to keep praying to God.”  I receive a handcrafted pottery bowl and a tribal woman puts a beautiful beaded bracelet on my wrist.  I have officially been welcomed into the community of the Ewe people.

The day continues as I play numerous games with the children.  We dance to some traditional music near the bonfire, learn about the pottery making process, and go on boating rides through the lake.  My favorite part of the day comes after dinner.  Sitting with my village father, he asks me some of the most difficult questions I have ever had to answer.  “Why do Americans grow faster than us?” he exclaims.  I know the obvious answer, but I am hesitant to respond.   “Perhaps it is because we have better access to health care and nutritious food,” I think to myself. Yet, I do not want to be offensive by suggesting that America is an industrialized nation whereas Ghana is not.  I feel as if he already knows the answer, but he still waits for my response.  I manage to stutter, “Hmm….I do not know, to be honest.”


This situation taught me the importance of using caution when making cultural comparisons.  My experience in Ghana was characterized not by the comparisons I made between the United States and Ghana, but instead the experiences that touched my heart.  I left my home stay with a sense of enrichment that I gained from the incredible people I had the opportunity to spend time with.  I cannot adequately describe this village in words.  My authentic experience living among the villagers was one of the most poignant and memorable experiences I had on my voyage.

  • Culture
  • Student Life

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