5 Skills that I have strengthened or gained while living in Ghana.
1. Networking: I’ve always been a little shy when asking people in my existing network for support or about potential opportunities. But in Ghana everyone want to start a business, this means that people are always helping each other out and creating partnerships. an example would be a seamstress and a photographer would create a partnership and they would help provide free services to help each others company grow. I learned within the first couple of weeks of being here that people move fast, I also learned the value of carrying your business card around. within the first month I had edited english articles, been in a music video and spoken at a graduation. All of these items have helped me network and help recruit for my NGO.
2. Mental Math: Since I don’t have a bank account here my mental math has be a key tool that I frequently use in everyday life. Sure everyone learns mental math in school but we rarely practice it. In fact I think that most people in Canada don’t count there change when they pay cash. Here is it very difficult to ever have exact change, it’s a game in it;s self on the TroTro trying to figure out who has to pay who it make sure that everyone has gotten their correct change back.
3. Being a Minority: Growing up in Toronto I never really understood why certain cultural groups would stick together. But by being in Ghana I finally understand why these groups stay together. Being here it is so much easier to make friends from nations similar to your own, you have the same issues with culture shock and you want to experience the same things. Don’t get me wrong I made friends with many locals but I felt more relaxed when I was with another expats because they understand my day to day struggles.
4. Sticking up for myself: Being in Ghana I have really learned to stick up for myself. People will rip you off any way they can and it takes a certain skill to stand up for yourself and call them out on it. This is something that is not generally done within the Canadian culture or at least I was not very familiar with it. But I’ve learned how to politely stand up for myself which is a skill that I will defiantly be taking home with me.
5. Hygiene: After being in Ghana I have a new found respect for hygiene. Not only do I feel the need to shower twice a day because of the consistent sweating but I also have a new appreciation for simple acts like hand washing. Hand washing is simple not part of the culture and after to talking to some representatives for the UN and UNICEF they claim that changing the culture around hand washing could prevent many of the illness within Ghana. I think the worst part is that there is very few public washrooms around and if there is one around it is a drain in the ground an you pay 1 GHS for newspaper (toilet paper). It’s common for people to ask for the TroTro to stop just so someone can pee and get back on. As a mild clean freak carrying hand sanitizer with me was a god scent and probably one of the best preventative measures here.