Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Welcome Home!

The Welcome Home Reception at Las Olas Fine Arts was a great success! There were supporters from Citrix, Sister Cities Fort Lauderdale, and lots of xChange Agents (Honey Project worker bees!) with families and staff of the Honey Project.

Thank you everyone for coming out to hear about our trip, to see and touch our wares, sample the honey and try your hand at playing music.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Original Art by Chris Hill

Chris Hill, "Honey Pot," 16" x 20" Beeswax, resin and pigment on wood

Art will be auctioned to benefit the Honey Project. To place a bid, go to and click on "BID NOW!"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 9: Accra (Saturday, April 11)

Today, being the last day we actually spent on the road, was full of 'full circle' experiences. First, we went back to the Art Center where we'd done our first shopping, and recorded the koka master that first taught us how to play the delightfully difficult instruments in the first place. ("Learning From a Master: How to Play the Koka" will sell for $20 when we finally get it out of editing, natch.)

Afterwards, we hung out at Labadi Beach, enjoying the cool water and trying to dodge some very, VERY persistent vendors. After lunch at Southern Fried Chicken, we went back to the hotel to prepare for our last actual duty - attending a party at Nana Sarpong's Accra home. We met a lot of ministers of the current cabinet there, as well as Nana's daughters and granddaughters. It was a very small, but very nice party, and we left on wonderful terms, all of us.

It's difficult to even acknowledge that this trip is effectively over. Even though I'm in Accra right now, typing these words, by noon tomorrow, my partners - or, more aptly, my friends - and I will be on our way home on the long, long flight to John F. Kennedy Airport in the Big Apple, and as soon as we collapse into our beds in Florida, we'll be rolling out of them again all too soon to go to school.

I never even dreamed that I would find myself here, of all places, and it's really been an experience that I could never regret having; I think that my fellow xChange agents agree with me on that front.

It's been fun recounting our pleasurable business trip for you all, and I'm thankful that you've chosen to read it. Tomorrow will probably just be a pretty simple day, but we'll still catch you all up on what happened.

After we recover from the chronic jet lag.

See you all on April 22nd for our little 'We're Back' celebration. Trust me. You've gotta be there.

Sean Heron
Secretary, Honey Project, and xChange Agent

Day 8: Accra (Friday, April 10)

Today we went to the Shai Hills Resource Reserve to see our first real African wildlife (aside from the random monkey we saw at the Accra Art Center). We were able to feed a family of baboons, who were surprisingly gentle in taking nuts and bananas out of our hands.

From there, we traveled into caves, located in the nearby hills, where the Shai tribe once lived. Nowadays, there are only insect-eating bats living in there.

At one point, we stopped along the road and attempted something that had been under discussion for a long, long time - carrying a tray of bananas on our heads. To put it mildly, our brave volunteers did their best, but failed miserably. (Those things are REALLY heavy.)

Now, at last, we've arrived at the penultimate day - Day 9. That will be covered right away, and will finally bring us up to date on what's gone on so far. Uploading pictures has been sporadic because we didn't have power in Agogo, and now everyone's cameras seem to be suffering from "Extreme Touristy-ish Overuse Syndrome". So pictures will come much, much later.

Till next time.

Sean Heron
Secretary, Honey Project, and xChange Agent

Day 7: Accra (Thursday, April 9)

We were up before 5 AM today to rush down to Accra and meet THE president of Ghana. We were all excited...after we got a lot of sleep on the way there, stiff necks or no. 

Dressed in our Sunday best and bearing awards for Nana Sarpong and His Excellency Atta Mills, we went to a former slave castle, where the presidents do their executive work, and had a very nice meeting overall. Unfortunately, we couldn't take our cameras along - there is a recording of our meeting, and we do have at least one copy, but we're still trying to get the photos.

At any rate, the day passed much more slowly after that. We didn't have anything else scheduled, so after lunch, we took some well-deserved time to relax and unwind a bit.

Tomorrow was much more eventful, I can assure you, but for now, I'll have to bow out. See you next time.

Sean Heron
Secretary, Honey Project, and xChange Agent

Day 6: Agogo (Wednesday, April 8)

After breakfast today, the first thing we did was head out to the office to process and bottle honey. We managed to get the sample of honey to process because of the brave efforts of head beekeeper George - he went out at 4 AM to get the honey, and even though the bees were calmer, he still got stung up badly. We bottled quite a bit, too - about 24 8-oz bottles are coming back with us while the rest stays with the cooperative.

Immediately after that, we went to go visit the home of Paulina, one of the cooperative members. It was very humbling to say the least - for her to invite the students into her very simple, but clean, one-room home was a courtesy that very few people can recieve.

Next we headed out to the Asante (Ashanti) capital of Kumasi, home of the chief of chiefs, the Asantehene, and quite a few craft specialists. We did some company shopping, and heard some stories from master storyteller Sly Hutchinson, but pleasure mixed with business when we visited Mahysia (MAN-seeah) Palace, where former Asantehenes lived. It was an awesome tour, and we even spotted Nana Sarpong in a picture there.

No, this isn't the palace. But no pictures were allowed there, so...

When we finally got back to the Pentecost dorm, we got ourselves together for a really early morning - we were going to burn through the 4+ hour trip to Accra to meet the newly-elected president, Professor John Evans Atta Mills.

But that intrepid record of our journey will have to wait for another time.

Sean Heron
Secretary, Honey Project, and xChange Agent