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.  

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