Fruit vendors, tro tro mates, and other small business owners fill the sidewalks of Suame Roundabout and make my daily commute to class and my service site eventful from the start. Their soft smiles and enthusiastic “hello’s” are just a small part of the welcoming norms in Ghanaian culture. On my last full day in Kumasi, I not only reflect on all the people who have ensured our stay be as comfortable and fun filled as possible but also the complete strangers who helped in the smallest of ways. From traffic-hour conversations with taxi drivers and tro tro mates to discussions about the World Cup with random women at bars, these are the small interactions I will miss the most. Countless times did I hear strangers explain their kindness simply with “it’s nice to be nice.” It seems as if most Kumasianos embrace this mantra through the smallest gestures: “you are invited,” “please, you are welcome,” and “may God bless you.” These frequently used phrases exist almost as part of the social norms in Kumasi.
Needless to say, I am sure my last seven weeks in Kumasi will leave me experiencing reverse culture shock when I return to the United States. I will miss the smell of sweet mango and roasted plantains that meets you at every junction and roundabout., the bright colors and patterns that make up the fabrics of people’s shirts and dresses, and the “Suame Roundabout,” “Tech Junction,” and “Sofoline” high pitched yelling of the mates. Words are not enough to express the gratitude I have to Dr. Bowles, the Davidson in Ghana program, and Kumasi for allowing me this absolutely unforgettable experience.