BERLIN – Paige Spangler, 16, of Hallwood, traveled to Accra, Ghana, to work in an orphanage during the month of July as an AFS participant. Her duties included teaching the orphans to read and to help care for and entertain them.
She was the guest of a host Ghanaian family, Mr. & Mrs. Biney, and their four children, Boye, Maame, Nana Janke and Kweku Mensa. She acclimated quickly to their lifestyle and became fast friends with her congenial family. While she was there, she enjoyed eating the traditional Ghanaian food of fufu with her hands, learned Ghanaian dances and attended a Ghanaian wedding.
During her commute on trotros (public transportation) to the orphanage, she took in the sights of people wearing traditional robes, walking pet monkeys, and balancing baskets of plantains on their heads. Few Accra passers-by could resist touching Paige’s blonde hair, exclaiming, "obrunie, obrunie" (white child).
During the last week in July, AFS took Spangler and the other 40 US volunteers on a tour through Ghana. They stayed in hostels and saw the Elmina Castle, Nzulezu, the Kakum national wildlife refuge park and the holding cells of the trans-Atlantic slave trade at Cape Coast.
Paige returned home in one of the beautiful African sundresses her host sister, Maame, made for her.
This fall Paige will be a junior at Worcester Preparatory School in Berlin, where she excels in academics, service, and school activities.
AFS is a worldwide nonprofit organization that has been a leader in high school student exchange programs for 60 years. Its mission is to work toward a more just and peaceful world, which they believe begins when people from different countries and cultures meet, learn together, and better understand one another. AFS-USA sends more that 1,600 students to more than 40 countries each year and welcomes more than 2,800 international high school students to the US, placing these students with volunteer families. The website is: www.affs.org/usa.