Why should we go home? Why do we want to go home? Well, if you speak to some White Americans in my study abroad program or to some Black Americans who live in my hostel, you will receive a very interesting answer to these questions. They do not want to go “home” to America because Ghana is now our home. Earlier in my blogs I wrote, “Living here is 100 times better than living in New York because here in Ghana there is a deep human connection you find with others, even with strangers and new people. I feel like the human spirit is more alive here in Ghana then it is back in America.” Once you come to Ghana, you experience a deep love, connectedness, and passion between people that is very rare to find in the United States. Deep, meaningful conversations pop up everyday and you do not have to wait until the weekend or the holidays to see your best friends.
It is very hard for me to articulate in words the warm feeling inside of my mind and my soul. I was unhappy in New York because I was never satisfied with things. I could teach inner city youth full time and even volunteer teach an additional 6 hours a week in the evenings. I could shop and party and go to bars. I could travel to see friends on occasion and visit my family on the weekends. But still, there was a cold and empty feeling inside of me, despite my struggle to live a balanced and fulfilled life. I felt like a deep person who was searching for a deeper human connection, but since I could not find what I desired, I settled for less, and I participated in meaningless, superficial things. I was hoping since other people were satisfied with clothes, money, and many superficial friendships, that maybe I would be satisfied with these things as well. I was wrong. They say everyone has to find what’s best for them and pursue that interest. Well, Ghana is everything I could have ever dreamed of, and more.
When I speak to some Americans about why they want to live in Ghana permanently, it has partly to do with the deep human connectedness. Two of my friends really enjoy teaching Ghanaian students. The children are very respectful and very passionate about learning as much as they can. They love participating in class and they always ask for more homework! Although some Ghanaian teachers still use physical punishment, my American friend decided to use “tickle punishment” with her kindergarten students instead. Whenever a student misbehaves or doesn’t do what they are supposed to in class, she tickles them for a while and they giggle and giggle until they agree to behave! The children are so grateful for their education. Their outlook is so positive, despite many obstacles that may be in their way.
The difference between life in Ghana and life in America is that here, people are satisfied. Maybe people are not rich or they do not drive fancy cars, but people have meaningful relationships and share love, laughter, and conversations, even with strangers. Yesterday I sat down for lunch with two African American women who live in my hostel that I have never spoken to before. They both told me that they are moving to Ghana permanently. One woman said this was her 11th time in Africa but her second time in Ghana. She planned to move to the Eastern Region and get married to her fiancé there. When she told me her plans, I felt the joy radiating from her smile, and I smiled with her. What a beautiful life! It makes so much sense that people should be happy, satisfied, and in love. It makes sense that people should love openly, without regret and should trust each other and build a future together. To me, love is the greatest joy in life. Although my career is important to me too, love is equally (if not, more) important. Why are American’s so dissatisfied with their love lives and why are they so obsessed with their careers? I realize that after feeling immense, unadulterated joy in Ghana, I can never return to the unhappy, dissatisfied, restless state of mind I experienced in New York.
Now, you could argue I am simply in love with my Ghanaian boyfriend and that’s why I do not want to leave Ghana.You could argue that my internship at the West Africa Aids Foundation has inspired my career decisions to be a doctor, and that Dr. Naa has become a positive mentor and role model and I want to become exactly like her. Or, I am so in love with the cute 3 year-old babies at the Daycare Center where I volunteer on Mondays, and I want to continue spending time with Ghanaian babies. Or you could say, since I am living a SuperStar Lifestyle, appearing in music videos with Ghana’s top hip-life artists, V.I.P., that’s why I do not want to leave. But my connection to Ghana is even broader, and deeper then that. My boyfriend told me, “Ghana is your home. You are always welcomed here”. Americans never told me, “Welcome home”. What is home really? It should be a place of comfort, love, joy, and satisfaction. The only thing I miss at home is the food. I think I can get over that with time. I love my friends and family at home, but it is obvious to me that I was not satisfied with the limited amount of time I got to spend with them when I was in the States. I feel like everyone in New York is constantly competing, trying to advance their careers, and reach their goals. I realize these are can be positive attributes and aspirations in moderation, but I personally think that taking out the time to be with loved ones and sharing deep moments is more important. You only live once, so why spend your life feeling trapped in a superficial “battle to the top”?
So where do I go from here? Do I still want to apply for Teach for America and attend post-baccalaureate pre-medical programs in New York City? Do I still want to go to medical school in New York? Well to be honest, I am not sure anymore. I have to see how things go. I know that foreign students attend Korle Bu Medical School in Ghana and it only costs about 6,000 a semester (WOW, no debit after medical school)! So at this point, I must say, I am very open to new possibilities. I am sure if I follow my heart, then all of my love, passions, interests, and my dedication to making a difference will steer me along the right path. From day one, I knew I wanted to be different from everyone else and I knew I was open-minded to everything the world had to offer me. I no longer think solely as a New Yorker, New Rochellian, or Cornellian—my mind is now open to a global perspective and global possibilities.
I LOVE GHANA! <3 GH <3