Ghana is absolutely amazing. And as we draw closer and closer to our departure date, I try to think less about it and more about making the most of the time we have left. However, this last week has been a great time to sit and reflect on our experiences thus far and the relationships that have been built.
Last weekend, the 12th and 13th, we had our final presentations and exams for our class that we completed during the first week of our trip. Getting this over with was a huge weight off of all of our shoulders, and I know we were all so relieved. That Saturday night, a bunch of us were sitting on the porch listening to music and playing cards like usual, and then thanks to fellow GVSU student Alexis our worlds were rocked as we learned what may be the greatest game I have ever played: NERTZ. It’s like solitaire with a partner against 6 other pairs of people all playing off the same cards and it involved a lot of yelling, squealing, and cracking up. I was sweating more playing NERTZ than I think I ever have while working out, and my stomach hurt from laughing afterwards, which has become a very common occurrence with this group of girls. There was some competition between some of the teams, but fellow GVSU student Steph and I were so far behind I could just have a good time with absolutely no hope of ever winning. We played for easily 3 hours that night, and for the next 3 nights and afternoons and whenever we got the chance. NERTZ is just one of many things that have brought this group closer together and one of many things that has made me realize how lucky I am to have been blessed with this opportunity.
After our final exams, we got the chance to focus more of our attention on our individual placements in the Challenging Heights school, office, or the Ghana Health System. We didn’t have any set schedule for the whole group, so it was a chance for us to become more independent living in Winneba. Almost every day, I walk to the junction to catch a taxi by myself, saying good morning and being addressed as Adjoa (Monday born) by all the Ghanaians I see on a daily basis. I ride to work at the Challenging Heights office and am there for the morning, get rice and pineapple for lunch across the street, and work for a good part of the afternoon. I am working on creating a database for all of Challenging Heights’ records that allows them to more easily access the data. After initially creating the framework for the database last week, I was able to enter more data this week and get a good chunk of the forms from the office fully entered. While I am not going to be able to finish the whole thing, I know that this will create a good base for future work to be done as well. Other than working in the office, some of the other girls are working in the schools doing reading assisting, and still some others are working in the health system in different areas.
The relationships we have formed in Ghana are one of the most important things that I am taking away from this trip. Not only with the Ghanaians, but with each other. I am so happy to say that I now have 14 other best friends I can hang out all the time with when we get back to GV. We have become like a second family while on our journey here. Emmanuel owns the hostel, and we are fortunate to have made yet another group of people we can call our family. His extended family ranges in age, and are always there to help us cook, help us understand Fante, teach us a new card game, or just to talk with us. They have made our stay in Winneba so much better than I imagined. After living in Winneba for four weeks and slowly adjusting to the Ghanaian culture, I can say that I feel truly at home here.
We have thought about leaving and our thoughts follow these lyrics by Andy Grammer, “I’m just sayin it’s fine by me if we never leave, we could live like this forever it’s fine by me.” So while I am getting sadder by the day that we have to leave, I am also reminded of all the wonderful things that have happened so far and that makes me overjoyed.
Don’t worry family and friends, we are still excited to see you!