Tween Talk with Eugenia Tachie-Menson: Breaking the ice

Eugenia Tachie-Menson

Picture this; you have just won The Spelling Bee, a national programme that showcases the best spellers Ghana has; what a delight!!! You are over the moon and can’t believe it; you won!  All your hard work has paid off and you will be going to the USA to represent Ghana at the world-famous Scripps National Spelling Bee.  Everyone is excited for you…everyone!  You are now in every newspaper, and news portal in Ghana; you have become a ‘household name’.

You have been informed by The Spelling Bee Office in Ghana that you will need to prepare for the US trip; you are the only African in the programme in the USA!  You are now, unofficially, Ghana’s (and therefore Africa’s) youngest Ambassador to the US.  You can’t wait to travel, though this will not be your first time travelling.  But it definitely is your first as an unofficial Ambassador.

Whilst you’re going to load up on your word knowledge information (it is a spelling competition, after all…lol!) you now must brush up on your knowledge of Ghana, Africa and the world at large.  You will be among close to 500 of the world’s best Spellers and must be able to hold your own during the social gatherings such us dinners, picnics or just meeting up with other Spellers.

This is not the time for you to be glued to your phone all the time without acknowledging those around you, or the sights within your new environment.  Don’t get me wrong; we all do need to be on our phones and or gadgets at times for one reason or the other.

However, it is considered an anti-social norm when you are in the midst of your peers at a social gathering or event and all you do is stay on your gadget.  You should want to speak with and to the people around you to get to know each other better.  But I digress; we are still on that high of being the national winner going to represent Ghana abroad.

What are some of the things you can talk about to strike a conversation with your new friends abroad?

  1. Talk about your country – Ghana is made up of 16 regions and mainly divided into 5 ethnic groups-Akan, Ewe, Mole-Dagbani, Ga- Adangbe and Guan. This makes our country culturally rich and diverse.  We have natural reserves that house a lot of animal species; Shai Hills in the Eastern region, Achimota forest in the Greater Accra region and Mole Park in the Northern region of Ghana are some of such reserves.  You do know Accra is the capital of Ghana and it’s located in the southern part of the country, right?
  2. Africa is not a country – many people who are not African do not understand that Africa is a continent (as is North America, South America, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Antarctica). They tend to think Africa is one country. There are 4 parts to Africa- North, South, East and West– with each having its own cultural identity. Ghana is in the West of Africa.
  3. Humour – young people are typically fun so why not get punny with some quips that can tickle everyone in the room? Here are a few-
    1. What did one plate say to the other? Dinner is on me!
    2. Why did the student eat his homework? Because the Teacher said it was a piece of cake!
    3. Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7, 8. 9!
    4. How do we know the ocean is friendly? It waves!
    5. Why did the student bring a ladder to school? Because they wanted to go to high school!
    6. Why do bees have sticky hair? Because they use a honeycomb!
  4. Getting to know you– you can also introduce quick games that will help you all get to know each other in no time. Take 2 truths and a lie- to play, everyone sits or stands in a circle. Each of you says three statements about yourself, two of which must be facts, or “truths,” about you and one must be a lie. The fun is getting others try to guess which statement the lie is.

These are a few ways to break the ice when you are in a  new social setting; you are bound to leave a lasting impression on your friends, both old and new.  Staying on your gadgets when you are physically together doesn’t guarantee you that…lol!

>>>The writer is a passionate educator who makes learning fun for children under 18 through co-curricular programmes. Through her charity organisation, Young Educators Foundation (YEF) in Ghana, the programmes portfolios have expanded to include literacy programmes in local languages as well as public speaking programmes for the youth.

Based on her work in education and with children, Eugenia is the recipient of many nomination and awards such as a presidential award for the contribution to education over the past decade in 2018. In 2019, she was named as one of the 74 individuals in Those who Inspire Ghana, a global programme that identifies nationals whose experiences are worth sharing.

Eugenia believes that children are not the ‘future’, but rather the ‘present’ and so the need to invest in their total development. She is a regular contributor on radio and television shows as well as various public fora on this and related topics.

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