Akwaaba! My first experiences in Accra, Ghana.

Hello, all! My name is Francis O’Leary. This September I’ll be beginning my second year at the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) at the University of Oregon (UO). This summer, though, I’m participating in the UO’s Media in Ghana program in Accra, Ghana along with 19 of my fellow SOJC students. After a week of orientation classes, each of us will go to separate internships to work with media organizations in Ghana. My internship will be with Net2, one of the most popular TV stations in Ghana.

On my first full day here, the group went on a bus tour of Accra with one of the program’s service providers. During the tour we learned all sorts of information about Ghanaian governmental buildings and interesting neighborhoods, but my principle concern the entire time was the traffic. Just to name a few things that put me on edge, there are entirely unregulated intersections, motorcyclists that disregard any rules but their own and pedestrians crowding the roadways. It seems the bus driver perfectly understood a system I was incapable of seeing, though, because we made it around with no issue. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen trace of a traffic accident yet.

Accra traffic can be nerve-wracking for the uninitiated. Many of the streets have no signs to regulate them and aggressive drivers abound. I haven’t seen any signs of collision, but I’m still on edge when we weave through traffic in the bus.

I am of the belief that the common person is largely the same everywhere: mostly concerned with providing for their loved ones, spending time doing things they care about, eating good food and listening to good music. Thus far, my interactions with Ghanaian people haven’t challenged those beliefs at all. On Monday, we met with Julius Jayson A. Botchway, a University of Ghana alumnus who founded the first campus recycling program in West Africa at UG. On Tuesday, we attended a tour of the Aburi Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of Accra. After the tour, we went to the Net2TV station to watch the live-stream of the Ghana v. Guinea-Bissau soccer game in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Learning from people passionate about their work and being surrounded by hundreds of people cheering for the same cause was heartwarming and made me happy to be here.

Everyone was pretty gassed to be headed to the Aburi Botanical Garden. Unfortunately the photos from my digital camera didn’t survive, so this is the only photo I have of the day. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have had the opportunity!

I’ve got six weeks to cram in as many new experiences as I can. A few activities I would hate to miss out on, though, are seeing as much live music as I can – I write for an Oregon Music News and live music is one of my passions – and, of course, eat local food. Good music and good food are motivators for me as well, after all.

One of many delicious meals to come. For the sake of not cutting myself off from any new experiences, my typical veganism is on hiatus until I return home.

Thanks for reading 😊 I’ll have more for you soon!

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