Mete Twi. For most, if not all, of you that sentence is meaningless. It means “I speak Twi.” As a Jew from New York City, it is very unexpected that I can read and somewhat understand the language of Ghana. That said, at Penn it is not that radical to take on bizarre interests and skills. Throughout high school I studied Spanish and could have easily continued that in order to fill my language requirement, but I decided to completely jump out of my comfort zone. The summer before I came to college, I spent a month in Ghana, living with a family and working at the local hospital. Because the official language of Ghana is English, I could easily communicate with the doctors, nurses and my host family, but many of the patients that I worked with were uneducated and therefore never given the opportunity to learn English. Working so intimately with people and not being able to verbally communicate with them was heartbreaking. I helped deliver a woman’s baby, but couldn’t even ask her how she was feeling. Leaving Ghana that summer, I knew I wanted to go back. When I was choosing classes freshman year, I stumbled across Twi on the course catalog. I knew that being at a university where I had the chance to learn the language, I couldn’t turn it down. I signed up and anxiously walked into my first day of class on my first day of college freshman year. I was not only the only student in the class who was not of Ghanian decent, but many of the kids already spoke Twi fluently. The other students in the class immediately took me under their wing, so excited to teach their language. I am now in my third, of four semesters, taking Twi. Not only have I learned much of the language, I also have such a tight community at Penn that I can always turn to. The class has 6 students, two who grew up in Ghana, and our professor who is from there. We start class each week by giving updates on our lives, so at this point we all know everything about one another. The professor makes sure that everyone feels at home in his classroom: he loves to mention that two of his old Twi students from Penn are now married. During class, we go through exercises in our textbook, but also spend time talking about culture in Ghana. For example, last week we talked about Ghanian marriage and the way it differs from American marriage. I really could not be more thankful that I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up for Twi last year. And finally, thanks to PennAbroad, I will be spending the second semester of my junior year in Legon, Ghana.
- Eliza C’22