21 April 2013

i can't explain all of it anyway.

This makes me uncomfortable.  I feel exposed and vulnerable.  That's because it is far from perfect, a compilation of nearly all of the photos I took while I was in Ghana.  All unedited, mostly mistakes.  But together they make something intriguing, I think.  Which is beautiful, I also think.  So if you will, take about seven minutes with the sound turned up and you might get a really small (but somehow bigger) glimpse into my life in Ghana between August and December of last year.

LOOK HERE. (please.)

By the way, I am going back.  In less than a month.
Follow that adventure here:  AKWAABA, ALL OVER AGAIN.

23 January 2013

teach in ghana: learning through the african child

When you tell people that you will be traveling within Africa, it's often met with reactions which place you on some sort of heroic pedestal. Like, "Oh, you're going to Africa? I bet you're going to be able to do a lot of good," or, "You're off to save the world!" as if any part of that continent is in need of/could be lifted up by a twenty-year-old clueless college student from sheltered, suburban America. And to be honest, maybe a teeny tiny (kakra kakra) part of me felt that way too. But for every little bit of help I tried to offer while I was in Ghana, I was changed for the better tenfold (kεse) by the children I encountered along the way.

I could sit with you and pick one of the kids who coloured my life in Ghana and proceed to spend hours telling you the memories I have of them, what they mean to me, the lessons I learned from our brief time together before moving on to begin telling of another. However, you probably don't have time for that and, frankly, I don't have the emotional strength to push my heart through my fingertips onto a page. So this will be brief, but I truly hope the reader will get an authentic and significant glimpse.

So. Learning through the African child. I certainly did learn a lot from the children. However, I think I learned from them not because they are African, but because they are children. There are lessons of such truth and depth to be learned from children if only we take the time to watch and listen. Kids are extremely imaginative. Armed with only their minds, they may construct homes or an entire city. A piece of cloth on top of the head becomes long, flowing hair. A bucket of sand can create the most delicious and abundant meal. Children are immensely welcoming. It was kids in the community and students at the school who were the first to make me feel like I was really wanted and that there was a place they would be joyful for me to fill. Little ones are boldly honest, in ways "adults" are too afraid to be. They know what they like and what they don't, and would never imagine altering that to suit the wishes of someone else. Children are profusely loving and cuddly. It was while I was in Ghana that I learned, through the children, the power we can have on others to increase the quality of life by giving of ourselves in the simplest ways possible. It's no wonder to me why Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."(Matthew 18:3) Though these are things that I have observed in other places as well, I am forever grateful that I had a chance to experience them in Ghana and am deeply eager to return "home" to squeeze my little teachers.  

15 January 2013

how was africa, you ask?

To be honest, I would dearly love to hope that no one would ask me, "How was Africa?" in the coming days. Unfortunately, I know that is highly unlikely. For some reason that I don't fully understand, most people don't know that much about the continent of Africa or the countries within it. And when I think back on it, during the whole twelve years I was in school, the only time we ever talked about Africa was when we talked about colonisation. But even then we focused only on the colonisers, never the people of the nations. So really, I'm not sure where to place blame (or if I even should place blame) with regard to our vast ignorance of the second largest continent in both size and population. I mean, I've never heard of anyone who came back from France to be asked "How was Europe?" or someone returning from India having to find an answer for "How was Asia?"

I think I would love to start by saying that I lived in a large and lovely community called OLA, in the city of Cape Coast. I spent most of my time in the Central Region of Ghana, one of ten regions in the country which are home to 52 different ethnic groups made up of 24 million people who speak over 70 different languages. Ghana is located in West Africa, one of five regions of the continent of Africa which is home to 54 different countries--each one host to more diversity than I can begin to imagine. So I'd like to consider that, though referencing it as "Africa" can express a unity, we may also be doing an incredible injustice to the boundless medley of differences to be found in the many peoples and histories of the land when we settle for grouping them all as one.

But saying that might embarrass or bring shame to someone. They may feel confronted and discouraged from asking more. Which is hardly what I want.  But I haven't figured out a more subtle way to state that truth yet. So instead, when asked how Africa was, I might lead with some other truths: It was hard sometimes, but so so great. It sounds cliche, but it really was life changing in extreme ways. It's where the sky was so big and full of beauty I thought I would cry each time I looked up. It's where I felt a passionate anger out of compassion for another human being for the first time. It's where I found a strength within me to make hard decisions. It's where my life became as vibrant as the colours I was surrounded by. It's the land where I found endless welcome. And it's where I learned about what I value most in life. Medɔ Ghana.

13 January 2013

oh right. i'm back.

For over a month now, I have been back in the sweet state of Ohio.  It's not always been easy, I miss Cape Coast a lot.  I want to be able to walk down to the ocean and let the waves roll away my stress.  I want to wander through the streets and meet my friends.  I want to finish the projects that I started.  I want to eat some jollof.  But I can't.  At least, not yet.

I think I will continue to update this occasionally with plans for a return trip in May.  I don't have the money, but somehow it's going to happen.  (So if any of you lovely readers happen to have some frequent flyer miles or a few thousand dollars gathering dust somewhere, I'd gladly take that off your hands!)  Also, I may add some travel/packing tips and other musings.

Finally, one big project that I got to be a part of (and will do my best to continue to stand by) is really stinking cool.  We started a blog for it and you can see that by clicking HERE.  There's an update coming soon, along with information about how people can support the library through monetary donations.  If there are any questions, I will accept any and all inquiries!

Tomorrow morning I will set foot in my first lecture hall since June.  Wish me luck!

28 November 2012

allow me some grace.

You know when life gets a little wild and you unintentionally lose touch temporarily with a good friend?  And then you feel guilty because that friend has always been so kind to you so it becomes harder and harder to figure out how to fix up the bridge the longer you wait?  But you keep waiting because you just don't know if you have the words to say?  Well, that's how I have felt about this blog recently.

When I initially created it, my hope was to use this space to share a few words and some pictures with the forty-four people who said they wanted to receive messages from me during my time away.  I, in no way, thought that one day I would open the site to see that the sub-par wanderings of my mind would have been visited over two thousand times by people in countries like Israel, France, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Greece.  I felt empowered, to be sure, but certainly a little pressure to perform as well.  All of this is to say that I'm sorry for my absence, but my life has been a little wild and I unintentionally lost touch.  Also, thank you for joining me.  I'll try my best to be more present here in my finals days, though I won't make any promises.

11 November 2012

that feeling of contentment.

It hit me one week ago.  After the weekend away, we pulled back onto the familiar streets of Cape Coast just as the sun was going down.  As the car moved along the main road--the wind playing with my hair, the ever wide ocean to my left, and the pink & blue sky above--it felt good to be home.  It took about two months to be sure, but now I am just that.  I am quite certain that I love Ghana.  Ask me what I love most and I can't give an answer.  It's a lot of little things.  But that's what makes something dear, the little things.  

The realisation that my remaining time is less than thirty days has made my heart sentimental.  But I'm not sure if I can put together the words which will illustrate my emotions.  I feel split between two lives, and I look forward to returning to the one but become sorrowful when I imagine leaving the other behind.  I'm honestly not sure what else to say, and I don't know if you would understand anyway.  So I guess I'll leave it there.  

08 November 2012

the mountains and hills will burst into song before you.

I'm not sure if I have words for how majestic the Wli Waterfall was.  It may just be something you have to experience.  If you go (and you really, really should go), you should be prepared to walk into the water.  I wasn't prepared, but I went in anyway.  I couldn't really resist.  The power of the water falling from the mountainside sent misty wind right into my skin as the waves met my ankles, then my knees, and my hips.  I just stood there soaked and in complete awe.  Really, I'm not sure how anyone could deny a Creator while standing where I stood.