“You leave so soon! How are you feeling?”

I’ve heard this question enough times that I should have it all down pat. In reality, my emotions are changing so much and I am going from excited to nervous to stressed-about-packing to excited again…on a daily basis. I thought I should write a quite note to let you know what I’ve been up to and where I am in the prepping phases!

I leave for Ghana May 13th. Predeparture Training begins May 6th. I’m going to a conference/week-with-friends/bible-study-type-deal called MarkCentral from May 1-6. So really I have until this weekend to completely prepare! 

My outstanding TO DO list includes:

  • go to Hamilton to pack stuff, clean my room, and prepare for a subletter
  • find aforementioned subletter so I don’t lose money this summer (LET ME KNOW IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE INTERESTED! THIS IS A WORTHY CAUSE!)
  • buy a ton of stuff (traveller’s backpack, antimalarials, sandals, microfibre towel, etc)
  • Pack
  • spend time with family, relatives, friends
  • print off some photos of life in Canada to bring with
  • get photos taken and fill out forms to apply for my Visa
  • learn more about Value Chains and Market Facilitation (optional but recommended)
  • skype a bunch of EWBers to prepare (optional, recommended)
  • learn some Dagbani (optional, probably won’t happen but I would really like to!)

My thoughts towards my placement:

  • I want to hear details! I know the vague description of what AVC does but will soon learn my role in it all.
  • I can’t wait to be with all the JFs at predep and see all the APS when we arrive.
  • I am pumped to find out where I am living and meet local Ghanaians.
  • I hope I like the food. Eek.
  • I have resigned to the fact that I will probably get sick. Any bets on which disease/illness first?
  • I have never had to be so conscious of the colour of my underwear before (no white allowed. Will get too dirty).
  • I am a little nervous that I won’t do a very good job as a JF or rock my placement as much as I hope.
  • I am excited to go to town and buy fabric and get amazing Ghanaian clothing made.
  • I hear Ghanaians don’t shave their legs. Nice.
  • I am prepared to get super tanned. I will be in Ghana for the coolest months (meaning 22-30 deg C, not what I would call cold).

And for those who are interested, I have posted my newly constructed personal Packing List! I am curious to hear how it is similar to/differs from what you were expecting. Ooh, and let me know if I am missing anything important!

With love,


 p.s. Happy Birthday to my teammate David Taylor!

A compilation of 3 packing lists and a few conversations.

Hypotheses (to be read in a British accent)

Maybe this is the scientist/engineer in me, but I love hypotheses so much. So much, in fact, that I have decided to compile a list of hypotheses that I can test out this summer. This one is from my chapter/group of Engineers Without Borders Exec at McMaster.

  1. Villagers would be more open to change if things were communicated better.
  2. Children in villages are curious and want to interact and play.
  3. I learn to live without constant access to internet and will learn cool games/activities that I will bring to Canada.
  4. I don’t like the food during the first week and will miss food from home.
  5. I get more honest answers from Ghanaians a month into my placement when I know them better.
  6. Culture shock. Big time.
  7. No matter how much preparation I do, our opinions of Ghana changes seriously in the first two days.
  8. There is a sense of segregation (social status distinction) between native Ghanaians and foreigners/us/aid workers.
  9. Mosquitos are everywhere.
  10. I use mosquito nets every night.
  11. Every family grows cacao in Ghana to support a living.
  12. The community will be very welcoming initially but it takes a long time to gain trust.
  13. I am hit on at least three times a week (can be by the same guy).
  14. I feel powerless/frustrated/hopeless towards situations I encounter.
  15. I return with a completely new perspective.
  16. I hopelessly embarrass myself once a week.
  17. I play soccer at one point.
  18. Everywhere I go, I experience white privilege.
  19. The weather is exotic.
  20. I return tanned. More specifically, I will come back with a farmer’s tan.
  21. I average two showers a week.
  22. I find myself craving gross American food that I never even liked (eg. Kraft Dinner, Twinkies).
  23. Homophobia is the norm.
  24. Not every community has public services.
  25. In very remote communities, farmers mostly consume their harvests instead of selling a portion as there is no market.
  26. Ghanaians can and like to hold things on their heads.Women can hold heavy items that weigh >30kg on their heads.
  27. It is difficult to access health clinics when you get sick.

I am so excited to test all of these out!

YOU, reader, please comment and add a hypothesis to the list!