A collectivist culture (1) can be described as one where the importance is placed on the community over individual needs. Ghanaian people absolutely emphasize the community and are quick to accept people into their communities. I have had more conversations with the security guard who sits in the front of our guest house than my neighbors from home, which might say more about me but you get the point.
Patience, one of the women who I have met, asked me today where I was this morning because I skipped my morning workout. I have lived at the guest house for less than 10 days, and she already cares enough about me to recognize when I am not where I usually am.
I am working at the hospital three days a week and on my second day of my Peds ER rotation, the resident asked me where I was on Tuesday (we work Monday, Wednesday, Friday). My job at the hospital is to shadow, so I had not done anything memorable for him to recognize me by. After I explained my schedule, we then proceeded to discuss why I was in Ghana, what lead me to wanting to become a doctor, and a bunch of other personal questions that I had no problem answering because he made me seem like family in the span of 20 minutes.
Even in the language, responces to greetings include (2) “sister”, “brother”, “mother”, and “father”, even if those whom you are talking to are not technically family.
I have been in Ghana for less than 2 weeks and the people who I have met make it feel as though this is a home i have never left.
1. Our guest house (Freeman Methodist Center)
2. Our friends who helped us with the seamstress. We have met twice but she treats everyone like family