Happy Thursday, family and friends!
Today is the last day of the week for us here in Ghana, as Election Day is tomorrow and everyone has the day off from school/work in observance of the important day. Four years ago, there was no clear winner after the first round of voting, so the country went into a second and then later a THIRD round of voting to determine who the next president would be…more than three weeks later the country finally received the results. We all have our fingers crossed that this year’s election will go more smoothly and that a winner will be declared within 72 hours (the standard time allotted for counting the votes), so that there is no need for extra rounds of voting. Then life can go back to normal here, as the past few weeks have been filled with campaign rallies (which are really just a bunch of pick-up trucks decked out in different parties’ logos and slowly driving around blasting really obnoxious music). The campaign rallies, I will not miss.
Some things I will miss:
1. Walking down the street, everyone I pass will take a second to say “Hello, how are you?” in either English or Fante. And unlike back home, they will actually wait for your response and tell you to have a nice day afterwards. I love this. It’s amazing how much you can brighten someone’s day simply by acknowledging their presence…I have felt the effects of this first-hand. I think that this is something we should all try to work on back in the States; it will make everyone much happier and more pleasant to deal with!
2. Living without many of the luxuries that I normally take advantage of, I have come to appreciate the simpler things in life–it’s borderline amusing how excited I can get when someone mentions going out for ice cream or that the lady down the road is selling pineapples 3 for 2 cedis (we LOVE making fresh smoothies for lunch: pineapple, mango, and bananas with strawberry “yogurt”–yum!). Talking to my mom and/or dad on the phone is always the highlight of my day when it happens, even if we aren’t really talking about anything of actual importance, because being here I have come to truly appreciate the importance of my loved ones in my life.
3. The untouched beauty of Ghana. I live about 1 km from the coast here, and these are the kind of beaches that companies put on postcards–clear water, hot sand, homemade boats on the shore, and palm trees lining the border of the road and the beach. It’s going to be so weird not to be able to see the ocean every day once I go back home, because it is such a pivotal part of life here (fish is a major commodity in the local markets and a staple in every Ghanaian’s diet).
4. The beautiful colors of the clothes here is something I am definitely going to miss when I return to Upstate New York. The fabric here is so intricate and full of color that it’s hard to focus my eyes when I’m in a crowded place. Most of the fabric is made in Ghana, and there are just about as many seamstresses as there are taxi drivers here to make unique clothes for everyone!
5. My friends and homestay family here have been so welcoming and have taken me in to their homes without any hesitation, and for that I am eternally grateful. My closest friend here, Pat, who I met in my nursing classes, has helped me survive UCC without too many scrapes and bruises. She made sure that I always knew what was going on in our classes, copied the lecturer’s notes for me, and forced me to study with her before our exams–without her, I can’t say that I would be in that great of shape academically. She also took time out of her schedule to teach me extra Fante, so that I could converse with more people here. My homestay family has also taught me a lot about what it really means to be a Ghanaian, and have helped to improve my understanding of their culture through food, language, and conversation. I will never forget all of the wonderful people who have made my stay here worthwhile.
It’s a difficult time for me, realizing that I am now down to less than 2 weeks left in Ghana. I am thrilled at the idea of going home and spending time with all of my family and friends, but I am also sad to leave behind the friends I have made here and the culture that I have fallen in love with over the last 4 months. I guess all I can do is live a life that reflects all of my new knowledge and start looking forward to the next time I can return!