Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bittersweet reflections- Chloe Bielby

The last few days I’ve been thinking about going home and I’ve realized quite a few things. While I am grateful to have grown up in the United States of America, I am not looking forward to returning home and talking to others who may be uneducated about Africa and the inequalities that exist between the United States and Ghana. 

I know my American day-to-day life is incredibly easy. I have never gone hungry or thirsty or not have been able to go shopping on any weekend I want. I have lived a very blessed life. It’s very hard to not feel guilty on this trip when we walk through town and see children who have legs and arms that are like pencils but their bellies protrude out. It’s hard to not feel guilty when even though it’s the culture to haggle, I haggle something down 10 cedes ($3 approx) thinking I got a great deal but I know I’m saving three dollars. And it’s hard to not feel guilty that three dollars to me is nothing, but to someone else three dollars is food for several days.

I miss my family, friends, and my dogs a lot, but there are several things I don't miss.  I don’t miss the air conditioning. I don’t miss washer and dryers. And I don’t really even miss the food (but once my hot Cheetos are gone, I might change my mind!). 

What I'm most concerned about it is returning home and being met with ignorance or misunderstanding by those who have not been able to travel and have this enlightening experience. For example, back in the USA I have heard people mistakenly refer to Africa as a country, not a continent.  I have also been aware of people who may make jokes and laugh at people who are less fortunate than them. I know it will be hard for me to return to the United States since there are many people that won't understand (and may not care to understand) what it's like to be in Africa and witness the inequalities I have witnessed.

Besides becoming aware of many inequalities in Ghana vs. the United States, I want to share some fun things I have experienced since being here:

Fellow GVSU student Katelyn and I are doing our Senior Project on SpeedStacks ( and have been teaching the kids and teachers at Challenging Heights school this past week. They all love it and are so competitive!

The past few days my fellow GVSU students and I been playing this game called NERTZ. It’s like solitaire with partners. We get really competitive but it’s great because everyone in our group can play at once. I’m pretty sure we’re all going to get together when we’re 90 and still play.

What’s also so much fun is being able to go around town and pick out any fabric we want and have anything made from it. The things I have had gotten so far are amazing pieces and I cannot wait to wear them at home (and not sweat through them!). Even though I’ve for the most part adapted to the temperature, if the sun isn’t behind clouds and there’s no breeze, I am done-so. This is a picture of the sunset while a few of us were waiting for some clothes to be altered.

The views are simply beautiful. A few days ago a group of us went to the lagoon down the beach and it was gorgeous. It looked like the pictures you see of places that you can’t imagine actually exist. The water was so warm but the current was still really strong from the ocean. A few of us found sand dollars too! There were coconut trees everywhere and the sacred mountain in the distance with a little haze around it which made it even more beautiful.

I can’t get over how beautiful everything here is, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from this experience.

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