Life in a Fish Bowl – Marta Block, Ghana 2002-2004
“Toward the end of my service, I was made queen mother of development (Nkosuahemaa) in my village. It was an amazing day full of music, speeches, parading through the village & celebrations. I was given a beautiful piece of kente cloth that probably weighed ten pounds & wore it throughout the day. It was just such a beautiful culmination to my service with so many people in my community who I loved.” – Marta Block
Photos from Marta’s Service
Marta Block’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
Ghana 2002-2004. I was an Environment volunteer & worked with four nursery operators to develop sustainable agriculture practices. My secondary projects included the World Map & a Peace Corps Partnership Program grant to build a new kindergarten building in my community.
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
Toward the end of my service, I was made queen mother of development (Nkosuahemaa) in my village. It was an amazing day full of music, speeches, parading through the village & celebrations. I was given a beautiful piece of kente cloth that probably weighed ten pounds & wore it throughout the day. It was just such a beautiful culmination to my service with so many people in my community who I loved.
I also met my husband (a fellow volunteer) in PC…so, March 1, 2003 we had a PC event in Bolgatanga & stayed up until sunrise the next day talking. We’ve been together ever since! And afterwards I found out that’s the “birthday” of PC. Love that connection.
What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?
Waking up in the middle of the night with a splitting headache & diagnosing myself with cerebral malaria & being convinced I was going to die. 😉 It was a headache, I never got malaria in my 2+ years. Sometimes the book “Where There Is No Doctor” could lead to catastrophizing.
What do you miss about Peace Corps?
The pace & the sense of community. And the sound of tropical rain falling on a metal roof…
What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?
The biggest thing I took away is learning what truly matters. Relationships/connections/experiences are so much more important than things. And also if things don’t turn out exactly as you planned, sometimes it’s for the best.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying?
The classic Ghanaian word that encompasses the whole feel of Ghana is “Akwaaba” or “welcome.” Ghanaians are so welcoming & friendly, this is a perfect word to describe Ghana. A few other words that we still use on a regular basis are “Aba!” – which is basically an exclamation similar to “Doh!” or “Oh man!” when something goes wrong. We also use the word “disting” all the time…which is the word you use when you can’t remember what you’re trying to say, like “Grab the disting & bring it over here.” or “where is that disting?” Another thing said all the time in Twi (the language I spoke) is “Me ba” or “Me ba Sesia” – which means “I am coming” or “I am coming right now.” However, it was always said as someone was walking away from you…they could be coming back in 5 minutes or 2 hours, but they’re just letting you know they’ll return. Ghanaian time is on a whole different level.