Grant – First Impressions

We first arrived in Togo at Gnassingbé Eyadema International airport at about 17h00 where Charlie was waiting for everyone to arrive. We quickly moved in to the apartment where we spent the first 3 days and had our first meal as a group in the capital. The first few days were a blur as the group had our brief adjustment period in Lomé before heading north. The trip north was mostly uneventful, though we passed by tons of buses and trucks, loaded to towering heights and that seemed like they would flip over at any second, but none did. We made it safely to the north, stopping in Kara (Togo’s second largest city) for a nice lunch. Then we pressed on in a rented Toyota Camry across bumpy roads that line many newly tilled fields, until we arrived at the villages where we’d be living for the next 7 weeks. The cars dropped us off at the foot of the mountain on top of which Kuwdé is located, and so we then hiked up the motorcycle path until we finally made it to our village. Once the entire group arrived, a group of village elders and leaders gathered to sacrifice a chicken, thus marking our arrival and symbolizing good faith and luck in the work we would do in their village this summer. The first night staying with my host family felt somewhat strange, as I didn’t know them at all, yet I knew I’d be spending almost 2 months living and eating with them. Fortunately, my entire host family has proven to be really amazing! They are exceptionally patient while teaching me Kabiyé (the local language) and in answering all of the questions that I ask them. Bahim, my host father, even took me to his fields this past week, to answer all of the questions that I’ve had about cultivating. While very different than I ever expected, my initial DukeEngage experience has been even better than I anticipated.

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