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Student navigates moral conundrum, cultural differences in Ghana
By Justin Kirchner
Here in Ghana, sound is no stranger to
my ears. The constant bombardment of cars
honking, goats crying, dogs barking, roost
ers calling, and music playing has made me
accustomed to the din of Africa. One day,
though, I heard a sound that was different
from all the others.
Returning home from my long march
through the blistering African sun, I parked
Raw cocoa in various stages of production
spreads across a table at theTetteh Quarshie's
cocoa plantation — the first in Ghana, dating
back to 1878.
myself next to my most prized possession:
my fan. As I sat in complete stillness, I could
hear my host father yelling for our family's
four dogs. When I asked him why he was
calling for them, he replied that he heard a
dog trapped on the hill next to our house
and wanted to make sure it wasn't ours.
Imagining a small dog stuck on the face
of a rocky cliff, I quickly walked outside and
glanced down the hill to see if there was any
sign of it. There wasn't. Conscious cleared, I
crashed next to the fan again and forgot all
about the dog.
That night, as I lay my head to my pillow,
I heard it. The most awful sound I had ever
heard. My heart jumped and I scurried out
of bed. My host father quickly connected
my panic with the sound we had both just
"The dog is still trapped" he said. "You
understand what I mean by trapped, don't
I shook my head like a small child, help
less and not wanting to swallow the truth.
"The dog is trapped in a bushmeat snare."
I had seen these bushmeat snares in the
village where I do agricultural work. I had
praised the villagers for the craftsmanship
of their traps, yet I never considered the col
lateral damage. Tomorrow the dog would be
sold in the market as bushmeat next to rabbit
and rat meat.
I ran quickly to my room to retrieve my
flashlight and sandals, sprinting to the hill's
edge and scanning the ground for any sign
of the dog. For 30 minutes I traced back and
forth with my flashlight, wishing it was a
floodlight. I needed more light. I needed
more time. I needed the dog to howl again.
Defeated, I trudged back up the hill to my
house and into bed once more. Not ten min
utes after lying back down, I heard it again.
The painful yell said more than deathbed
good-byes ever could. It was as if the dog
were ending a great song with one last heart
felt show of strength, calling out to all those
around him: A final farewell.
Then I realized my surroundings. I am in a
developing country. According to the World
Bank, the average person in Ghana earns
only $1,098 a year. In my time at Guilford, I
have learned about cultural relativism and
ethno-centrism, and I confront both issues
on a daily basis here in Ghana.
But this seemed different. This situation
seemed irreconcilably wrong in my mind.
Eating a dog for dinner? But in a country
with rampant poverty, who am I to tell
someone that they are not allowed to take
this animal as a meal, just because in my
country we consider them our best friend?
How would you end this story? Would
you get out of bed and search again to free
the dog from its fate? Or would you go back
to bed and allow the trapper to have his
In the village of Akuapim Mampong in the
eastern region of Ghana, on a typical rural street,
a small girl carries a basket of plantains to her
mother in the market
'Dead poets society' aims to build
community through art, music
By Kylie Gilliams
Levi's Coffin is not the first society to celebrate
writing and poetry at Guilford: literary societies
have been intermittently present here since 1874.
This new "dead poets society" at Guilford is a
little different though. On March 24, people drifted
into the living room of "the Wild Kingdayum,"
also known as North Apartments 754, sitting on
couches and the floor until the room was almost
entirely filled with only a small space in the center
for people to share their music or poetry.
"Levi's Coffin is an attempt to recreate commu
nity here at Guilford College," said co-founder and
junior Jamie Sisk. "It's an open forum for poetic
expression, music, shouting, just togetherness. It's
a place that people come to read from authors past
and read their own stuff too."
Sisk and junior Hadley Davis recently co-found-
ed the society with the goal of bringing people
together fi-om all comers of campus in order to
build community between people who come from
"I think that some of the impetus for it came
from conversations that Hadley had with me and
others about issues of community on campus,"
said Max Carter, director of the Friends Center and
campus ministry coordinator. "This was part of her
and some of her friends' response to that concern
and this is something that is wide open to people
all over campus — athletes, non-athletes, jocks,
hippies, you name it — so it helps address that con
cern ... the more we do things like (Levi's Coffin),
the better we weave a tapestry of full community."
Sophomore and regular attendee Will Kimmel
described the dynamic nature of the meetings.
"One of my favorite things is to just see how
quickly it (the meeting) can go from a hilarious
poem about smoking weed that Shel Silverstein
wrote, to really deep, looking at the core of some
one's troubles or problems with death or anything
like that," said Kimmel.
Members also emphasized the community
aspect of the meetings.
"Whenever someone gets up to share, there's
respect," said sophomore Tim Leisman "No one's
talking or whispering or texting while the/re read
ing, everyone is redly engaged with each other
and really ready to be connected to each other."
Some have raised the concern that in order
to truly build community, people from all back
grounds and ethnicities must be invited and feel
"Something that's arts-based should be able
to travel effectively across dividing lines," said
Holly Wilson, director of multicultural education.
"I don't think there are any issues inherent with
that kind of club; but with their advertising, with
sharing about the club, they would have to express
that differing ideas, differing viewpoints, different
styles are welcome there."
First-year Joyce Medina emphasized how a
diversity of members as well as the material pre
sented would enrich the organization as well as
Guilford as a whole.
"Because of the words in the poetry, (I think) it
would bring the people together because of differ
ent languages and situations," said Medina.
Despite these challenges and the society's new
ness, Levi's Coffin seems to have already made
steps towards building community.
"The first meeting especially was really emo
tional; I certainly let my guard down completely,
which is amazing because you're practically in a
room full of strangers," said Davis. "It says a lot
about Guilford and the way that we interact with
each other and how we are able to really express
who we are as individuals, but also as a commu
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Tues., April 19,7:30-9 p.m.
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short film & panel presentation
by Professor Naadiya Hasan and
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