I spent the bulk of the day tagging along with a ProGhana service-learning group project in Asafora, a village near Biriwa. When I got on the van from the Fairhill Guesthouse annex in Biriwa, I didn’t expect to see a large gathering welcoming the group from the University of California, San Diego. There were two sets of musicians; one group of men and women and another group of just men (and some boys tagging along!), pictured above. We walked a distance down the road until we got to the village of Asafora proper, and walked in to meet the village chiefs. The university group was positioned under a canopy, while the rest of the village stood in a U-shape facing them, with four men sitting in chairs facing the canopy. The liaison for the service project first gave a speech, which was followed by a one of the chiefs welcoming the visitors. In a line, the Americans then stood up and individually shook hands with the chiefs, followed by the four chiefs individually approaching the Americans to shake their hands. The liaison then asked Sarah, the ProGhana representative, to give a speech stating their mission; the leader of the UCSD group also thanked the villagers for the opportunity to visit their village. Introductions were then made, with each guest stepping out to identify themselves. The liaison then presented a gift (some kind of boxed liquor) to the chief who spoke earlier. He then came over to the canopy to add to the welcome, and two boys and an older woman danced to the drums on the side. The crowd got excited when one of the UCSD students was pulled out to the square and joined the dancing, later followed by the rest of the group. We then left the village to go to the school where the group would work later next week.
It was an exciting welcome, and an auspicious start for the UCSD group; they were clearly impressed with the welcome from Asafora.