Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Living to Love and Loving to Live" - Lessons from Ghana

Six weeks. Short enough that time goes by in the blink of an eye yet long enough to form lasting memories, friendships across races, religions, backgrounds and regional borders, and learn lessons and life skills that have the potential to change me forever. As I sit in the airport, part of me feels that I never even arrived in Ghana, it is all one whirlwind, dreamlike memory of time that flew by as though it didn't exist. But as I start reflecting further into my experience and notice how I have changed, what I have learned, and what I have been part of, I realize how valuable this short time was and what an impact it has made.

In addition to the hard skills that have developed through this experience and through my role as Site Director, I have gained as much or more through daily interactions, immersion into a different and new culture and my insightful and intelligent group of cooperants. Most of what I have learned cannot be measured on a scale, and how I have grown and matured is hard to pinpoint. It is the feeling of being at home in a place so different from what I'm used to, halfway around the world and the feeling of waking up each day with wonder and excitement and going to bed in state of content thinking back to the sights, sounds, tastes and memories of the day that has come to a close. It is these feelings that held my mind open to learning day in and day out.

I have learned about the universality of a smile and to never undermine its importance.

I have learned the power of the mind to control your mood and outlook and the impact of positivity and optimism on yourself and others around you.

I have learned a unique form of hospitality.

I have learned about faith and about finding sources of inspiration even when it seems that all is gone.

I have learned that “not talking to strangers” may be a harmful childhood lesson that could limit your realm of experience and knowledge. (within reason)

I have learned about trust.

I have learned about giving people chances and believing that each individual has something unique to offer.

I have learned about my own true personality and what I have to offer, to my immediate surroundings and to the world at large.

I have learned about different values and notions of family, education and religion.

I have learned about inequality and privilege.

I have learned more about “development” and the associated difficulties and complications.

I have learned the importance of grassroots initiatives and participatory development.

I have learned about openness; about letting yourself out and others in.

I have learned that our shared humanity is a source of unity around the globe.

I have learned about living to love and loving to live.

Thank you to everyone who made my experience possible. To Kira, to QPID and to Robin, Heather, Caroline and Sara! I wish them all the best as they continue to learn, share and grow in the remaining 6 weeks.

MEDASSE! (Twi- Thanks)

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