After yesterday, I thought the days just couldn't get better - but today did. And the students were saying the same thing. We got an early start with the first meeting taking place at the Coco Marketing Board. The Coco Board brought in a dozen of their senior ranking officials to talk with the students. It was a very informative session about one of Ghana's biggest cash crops. As the meeting was happening, they had a gentleman bring in hug cups of hot coco and little chocolate bars. I saw several smiling faces after the students (and chaperones) started drinking the coco. One student, Brian, commented that it was "the best hot coco he's ever had. And he drinks a lot of it so that's saying something." I'd have to agree! They also gave all of us goody bags filled with coco powder, chocolate bars, fabric and a daily planner. Quite a nice surprise.
Even though we were full from all the chocolate, we decided to stop and eat while we had some time. For a change, lunch went very quickly. We then headed to our next meeting, the United Nations Population Fund. The students kept saying how this visit was even better than the last. One student even said that "this is what I want to do when I graduate". The UNFPA is an organization focusing on women's issues here in Africa. This is a non-profit that is truly doing good work and the students were moved by what they heard. Don't be surprised if your student comes home and talks about the impact the UNFPA had on them. (UNFPA spokesperson in photo below)
The last business visit for the day was the Institute for Economic Affairs. These gentlemen discussed everything from Ghanian coco to how the global recession is affecting Ghana. The students received a great deal of information and appreciated the chance to talk with them.
Back on the bus we headed to the hotel. We were given about 2 hours before we needed to leave for dinner. There were special plans brewing since it was Malik's birthday today. Malik is our chaperone who went on this trip last year. He is also our Director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at Kelley. While we were relaxing, our guide arranged for a local bead merchant to come to the hotel and show us her products. She left with a lot less goods and even a few orders.
Seven p.m. and it's dinner time. We climb aboard the Kelley express for an interesting dinner. The guides, Charles and Jorg, found us a restaurant that would play music and allow us to dance. It was nice for everyone to just get to hang out after two pretty intense days of business visits. We talked, danced, and waited for dinner to arrive. Then we ate, and waited for the checks. Let's just say that today finally proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that "dinner in Ghana does take forever"! We spent four hours in the restaurant. The students weren't very thrilled.
Tomorrow we are shaking up the schedule a bit but the changes we are making should be much more useful for the students and their projects. Instead of driving 2 hours to a large coco farm, we are staying local and getting a much more thorough look at the whole process. We also hope to swing by the University of Ghana for t-shirts. The students were very upset when we found the bookstore was closed during our last visit. There are more things scheduled but that is the biggest change.