Having been in Ghana for about three weeks, I have definitely been able to pick up on a few of the Ghanaian social norms. Openness to conversation is an extraordinarily important quality in daily life. One can not simply walk to work or the store or anywhere in fact without being ready to have at least a couple conversations. When I say conversations I mean conversation, more than exchanges of hello or good morning. This is so significant to the
Ghanaian social norm that some people in our group have gotten reprimanded for walking through the Suame Roundabout with too much purpose, and too little conversation for the women who are selling their goods.
In Ghana, there is a tendency to grab and touch people, specifically men grabbing women. In my experience it is not malicious or meant to be inappropriate but is to get attention or show friendship like affection. At first, I thought the frequency of the touching was because our group is obviously foreign but when we went to the market with Lorettia I saw that the touching and grabbing was normal. In order to get attention in an extremely crowded area, physical contact is seen not only as necessary but as a simple solution. Also, physical contact with strangers is not seen as a negative event and the personal bubble is expressively smaller than in the US.
While there are many other social norms to discuss, these were the ones I wanted to discuss for the blog post! I have been enjoying the conversations with the men and women and want to bring the friendliness back to the US but have been struggling with the touching. I am figuring out where to draw my line and what this means for my experience.
The following are a couple links to some Ghanaian cultural norms: