Yesterday, I tried to explain to a friend, Victor, why I love being in Ghana. Victor is in Switzerland, a paradise of cheese and skiing. I wasn’t successful in convincing him how easy it is to be happy here, probably due to a combination of my own incoherency and the bad Skype connection. Also, for the first half of our conversation, I was complaining about how frustrated I was about not having reliable internet access and having to be careful about not getting sick. So, even though I’m pretty sure that Victor doesn’t read this blog (Hi!), here’s why I love Ghana.
I like how taxis and trotros and shops have slogans on their windows like “Merciful God Vulcanizing” or “Saving Grace Vegetables”.
I’m enamored with the weather. The sunshine seems endless and persistent at all times, besides the apocalyptic rainstorms that strike in the early evening.
I love lazy mornings with my roommate, listening to the radio and talking about Ghanaian politics.
I’m so happy to have a chance to learn Twi, a language that I probably won’t use anywhere else. No, I can’t rationalize it, and it won’t serve any purpose unless I return to Ghana someday. That’s just another reason to come back!
I’m amazed by how warmly people treat each other here. Everyone is recognized as a person, whether they’re a child or a construction worker or a shopkeeper. When you greet someone, you don’t see them as a means to an end, but an end. Why would I walk past someone without acknowledging them as a human being?
I’m constantly aware of how vibrant life is. You never know what to expect next, and so many aspects of life confront you all at once: school children singing ABCs, shopkeepers shouting out prices, soccer balls flying out of nowhere, babies being fed. Really cute goats and dogs run around everywhere. Will this person you meet become a friend, or is he introducing himself so that he can propose marriage to you, your sister, and your cousins? Any of the cars on the road could suddenly decide that just driving on the road isn’t enough anymore, and you never know if the food you’re ordering will burn your mouth with spiciness or sentence you to a few miserable hours in the bathroom. I love the unpredictability of life here.
Speaking of food, my diet is so different here! Basically, I eat lots of pineapple and mango, which is delicious when frozen! And no meal is complete without fried plantains and fan ice. Switzerland knows how to do chocolate and pastries, but Ghana is so much more flavorful. That’s another thing to like :)
I love our ISEP group. Never before have I lived with such an easygoing, funny, encouraging, and ambitious group. These people want to change the world, and the difference between this group and my experience in Switzerland is that everyone is here in Ghana for a reason. Some people want to work in nonprofits, some are involved in social work, and all are here to experience something new and learn about a world different from their own.
Most of all I love how Ghana is changing me. I don’t notice anymore that sweat drips into my eyes during class, my balance is improving from avoiding falling into the open gutters, and I’ve mastered using silverware with my right hand. I know how to quickly notice the signs that a shop doesn’t sell safe food (usually) and I’m getting better at bartering! I get up early in the morning to go running, something that I’ve wanted to do for years. On days that I don’t run, I can’t stand sleeping past six or six-thirty in the morning- no matter how late I went to bed the night before. I can wash my laundry by hand. Best of all, my sense of self consciousness is slowly wearing down! That process started in Switzerland because of the language barrier. But here, I’m always obviously an outsider- what do I have to lose by looking like a fool? Basically, when I’m here, I feel like I’m just so alive. And that’s reason enough :)
Quote from today, from my Philosophy of the Mind professor: You’ll just be heartbroken to leave Ghana.