It’s difficult, after so many experiences, to find a fitting conclusion to my blog, but a conclusion must come. This evening I will be making the transition from the humid, hot air of Accra, to the controlled and conditioned air of the plane. It is a transition that I am looking forward to. Though four months isn’t the longest time I’ve been away from home, it certainly feels the longest, and now I can look back at such a huge range of experiences, emotions, and achievements, ready to go home.
The few experiences I have shared here in the past few months are there to inspire those of you who hesitate to travel, and to experience. It’s those experiences that make us grow, whether you do it on your own, with your friends, with your family, or with an organisation, try to experience as much as you can. In new experiences come new challenges and we are forced outside of our comfort zone. Don’t worry, I know It’s difficult.
Lastly, I’d like to thank you all for your comments and support in the last few months. It’s been an incredible 4 months in Africa that I’m not likely to forget. Thank you.
I didn’t know how to express the gratitude I felt towards my host family and the CPYWD staff on the night before I was to leave them. I have received so much in this four month experience that any small gesture of thanks I give cannot come to compare. So, I decided to give them pineapples. I thought, if they taste these pineapples they will understand how sweet my time here in Tamale has been and I would like to share that sweetness with them.
Unfortunately, I am now experiencing the same dilemma in expressing how incredibly enriching these past four months have been for me. Each month brought with it its own character; its own challenges; and its own rewards, and as I sit here, at the end of the four months I can say “Wow, what an incredible experience!”
The last month has seen the arrival and departure of the YSI team 2011 here in Ghana. They were only around for two weeks, but I have to admit they were the hardest two weeks of my stay. I could see the fruits of my efforts. Some fruits were ripe and juicy, while others were sour, and unpleasant to taste, but each and every fruit left an after taste of experience and growth, and for that I’m grateful.
The project consisted of After School Programs, construction of the Discovery Centre (which YSI had begun last year), forums with youth on character development, and a trip to Mole National Park. I’m sure you’ll be able to read a report from one of the team soon enough on the YSI Utrecht blog. As for my own experience, I felt a certain personal providence that I had to overcome as I fell sick on exactly the same day, with exactly the same sickness as the previous YSI Ghana project I attended in 2010. It was from that sickness one year ago that the idea was conceived to spend a longer time here. Following me, it was Christian and Hauke’s turn to be sick, and their sickness turned into a day in a hospital on the drip. Welcome to Africa!
As our program developed I came to understand some of the challenges faced when trying to organise things in Africa. You can set dates, make appointments, and schedule activities weeks in advance only to find that when you arrive there is nothing prepared. It’s these challenges that make you doubt, but through the forums on character education I learnt a very useful concept, the influence zone. As much as I may desire to control everything and influence everything, there are things I cannot influence, and rather than constantly frustrating myself in trying to control them I should focus on what I can influence. I should focus on what is in my influence zone, and not let what is outside bog me down.
I am currently in Accra, with only a few days left before my journey here in Ghana comes to a close. After all that I have experienced, I am happy. Almost three years ago I finished high school, with little to stand on. Since then I have travelled, opened my mind, and nurtured my dreams. Now, I stand on all of my experiences, and with this extra height I can see further.