The opportunity to have my own research project involving health disparities initially drew me to this internship but being able to go to Accra, Ghana for the summer made it irresistible. The overarching project is investigating kidney disease in adults and children with sickle cell anemia. My project focuses on gender related stress and health outcomes for children with sickle cell treated in the local hospital, Korle Bu. Right now, the focus is data correction and shadowing doctors, and soon I will be administering the questionnaire to the parents of children with sickle cell and later analyze the data. I am looking forward to determining if I am more interested in research itself or the combination of medicine and research.
It is hard for me to believe that I’ve been in this wonderful country for a month now. As exotic as Accra, Ghana is, at the same time, it feels normal. However, this feeling of normalcy came after adjusting to cultural differences and navigating the biggest city I’ve ever lived in. I initially struggled with bargaining since I do not speak Twi, the traditional language that is spoken here even though English is the official language. I have found that the more I try to learn phrases the more welcoming people are, which helps when negotiating prices for taxis and just being polite by saying “medasi” or thank you. I was surprised that here, goods that would normally be purchased in a big store like Target, are sold on the streets or in open markets. When I’m traveling around the city, I always see more males than females, which I wasn’t expecting. Also, Ghanaians are extremely patriotic people, and the Ghana flag or red, yellow, and green colors can be seen everywhere. I have really enjoyed the food here, and my favorite dish is Red Red, which is fried plantains, black eye peas, and chicken. I was able to visit the Elmina Slave Castle and Kakum National Park for the canopy walk, which both were amazing and scary in their own way. I am excited for the rest of my time here.