Jogging in Ghana This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

March 13, 2012
The lack of sidewalks in Ghana changes jogging into a video game. I constantly have to be like Mario, jumping over pipes or open drains, ducking rapidly to avoid running into “Back to the Bible” signs, and maneuvering through obstacles including roasted plantain stands, coconut carts, and uneven roads. The street is a fight for survival against arrogant trotro (mini bus) drivers who think they rule the road and overpriced taxi drivers begging me to stop running and pay for a lift home because I'm white. I stop for no one.

Actually I stop for everyone. As soon as Ghanaians notice a foreigner running down the street, they shout “Obruni” and hiss loudly to get my attention. It would be rude to keep running, so I stop to say hello. Usually this hello results in a fifteen-minute conversation due to their kindness and intrigue.

After I say I'm from the United States, excited Ghanaians ask me if I am “friends with Obama.” I always smile. One overly infatuated guy showed me his underwear with our president's face on it!

I also make a habit of wearing Manchester United jerseys (my favorite football club). When people notice, they start cheering, high-fiving, or even booing as I run past. It's a great feeling to be in a nation of football lovers.

I finish each jog with a coconut, freshly cut on the street. It's refreshing and serves as a positive reinforcement for running. My current tally is 234 coconuts in 187 days; by the time I return home I'll require a five-step program to end the madness.

Due to the friendly nature of Ghanaians and my coconut addiction, every 30-minute jog takes two hours. It's a riveting experience; no two jogs are the same, and every day I meet new people and learn more about the friendly African culture.

I see jogging as a way of building bridges between people. Ghanaians have a stereotype that foreigners are lazy, and are genuinely shocked to see an American exercising. I'm helping alter their mindset, as they are mine.

NOTE: Avery was in Ghana for 10 months on a State Department YES Abroad scholarship. YES Abroad offers high school students the opportunity to act as ambassadors to countries with significant Muslim populations on full scholarships.

YES Abroad Info & Application:

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

lirifreedom said...
Nov. 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm
I love the way that you wrote this. I laughed at the image of jogging in Ghana being like Mario. I was an exchange student as well, so I can relate so much with people stopping you on the streets! Thank you so much for sharing and spreading the love of travel in a positive light :)
WhittyKitty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm
I really enjoyed reading this article, partly because it was extremely informative on the topic of Ghanaians and there culture and also becuase the way you write grabs readers and makes them laugh while learning. You mad e areas use of grammar/punctuation/word-choice that helped the article flow well and made it easy to read. It wasnt horribly long or uninformatively short but right imbetween at the perfect length. Amazingly well done! 5/5!!!
WhittyKitty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm
*made great use* :P
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