There are so many different and precious things I’ve encountered during my stay in Ghana and I cannot even believe that I am officially done with this May Experience trip. To me, yesterday seems like the day we said goodbye to people, when we gave hugs to each other, wishing everyone to have a good summer and promising to hangout again next semester. Right now I am required to write one more reflection about my trip, and I am not feeling weird because of having so many thoughts want to share with you all.
This trip is mixed with adventurous experiences, gaining brand new cultural experiences, having moved moments and making friends with people you’ve never get a chance to make friends with. One of the most memorable days for me was celebrating Jake’s 19th birthday. It was such an unforgettable day with lots of smiling faces, delicious food and wonderful birthday wishes. No one knew how much effort
Dr. Kwami needs to contribute to this surprising birthday celebration for Jake. We went to a very nice restaurant called Coco Lounge. And this place gave me a completely different perspective of perceiving Ghana. It is more like an international place with different races of people and different languages. This restaurant is decorated with super stunning celling, hundreds of vases arranging on the wall, and modern dining furniture. Jake’s birthday was surprised with a special dinner dance, mixed berry cream cake, and ice-cream. On the last few days we also did quite a few adventurous things. The first journey we’ve conquered was hiking to Wli Waterfalls, which is also the highest waterfall in West Africa. Everyone was involved in this “cool” adventures: my friends jumped into the rivers and experiencing some cold water feelings to remove these accumulated overheated bodies. Dr. Kwami was the only faculty member who went swimming in the water. I can see the joy and enjoyable smiles on her face. We also had an interesting monkey feeding experience. I’ve only seen monkey in a cage before and I’ve never thought about letting it sit on my arm. The monkey experience reminds of the relationship between human and nature: peaceful, which forms a huge contrast in China..
I love the hospitality of people in Ghana. I love Winne and uncle Solo for sure, and I can see that how much effort they put into during this trip. Every single time when we got off the bus and got lunch, uncle always waited on the bus and ate after we ate. I really really wanted to ask him to eat with us, but I know that is a “Ghanaian thing:” people just never eat with people. Same circumstance happened in my host family. My host parents do not eat either with their children or us. The cook in my host family only cooks food for us, but never sits and eats with us even we asked for. So far I’ve only been eating with my host brother once, which is kind of disappointed. However, this is a part of Ghanaian culture, and we have to accept that because we were in Ghana. Even though sometimes we felt a little bit lonely during dinner time, we still had a lot of memories with our host family. We almost say hello to our host mom auntie Beatrix every single morning.
She always wakes up early in the morning because she is doing catering for universities. Every single morning when we came for breakfast, we can smell the food she was preparing for lunch. I always talked to her for a little bit before I ate breakfast. I am really proud of that auntie gave me one of her paintings for goodbye gift and I felt really thankful about that. We love our host brother Sam. He is a really cool guy and he is willing to offer us help all the time even when he was busy. I seldom saw uncle (host dad) in our host family, but he is always the one who gave me compliments about my English proficiency all the time. I love uncle’s genuine and funny. And one of my most enjoyable things in his house was studying on the porch for my GRE in upcoming months while he is reading newspapers. And I consider that as a host dad-daughter hanging out.
Our safe guard Emanuel always smiles. I did not find a single moment that he felt angry or sad. He always wakes up at 5am and cleaned leaves in the yard. Sometimes I woke up by the sound, but I normally felt asleep with that sound shortly. He is always peaceful. I can see that he does not expect anything from anyone else. He probably did not have that much education, but I can see from his eyes that he is satisfied with what he is possessing. And that is enough. I was very moved on the last day I stayed in Ghana. He helped me with covering up my huge painting aluminum foil, towel, and plastic wrap. He totally did not need to help me and he did not ask for anything even though he knew that I could have offered him something.
I cannot believe I’ve met so many Furman friends on this trip. Firstly I want to talk about my roommate Ellie. She is one of the most outgoing people I’ve met. Although we did not ask each other for roommates, the result turned out that we worked out super well and we were planning to hangout with each other more often next semester. Today she was texting me about the start of her vegan life. I also get to know more about Paige, Jake, Kassidy, Armani, Anna, Carter, and MK. And we all agree with that we will get meals together at least once next semester. In addition it is kind of nice to know more people in different departments, because you can also hear some ideas that you’ve never thought about it. Moreover, through knowing and interacting with them, I feel like I learn a lot about how to blend and involved into a community. I ALSO got to know more Furman faculty members. Dr. Kwami is the organizer of the trip. She is very cultured and she is also a mom. Dr. Chris is super optimistic and talked a lot about public health on the trip. Dr. King is always the professor no matter where she goes, because she always have deeper understandings on this trips and she would love to share those thoughts with us.
For other parts, I think Ghana needs to focus more on the environmental issues, especially on road construction and trash collection. More emphasis on environmental regulation is needed. And in Ghana I did not see people do recycle as often compared to other developed countries. And the utilization of lands is not wise enough too. For example, it is okay for people to do agriculture and I believe that agriculture is a big thing in Africa. However, the land can be utilized better if more trees could be planted on some empty lands.
Education surprised me a lot. I have to admit that Ghana students are very diligent and the focus on education suggests that Ghana’s education system is in a good shape. I am so glad that we got to visit some universities in Ghana and learned about the education systems in Ghana.
Visiting radio stations made me think about Ghanaians’ perspective on Americans. In my opinion, most Ghanaians think that Americans are really rich and the U.S. is a perfect country. However, from the representations of TV shows and movies, those cannot reflect the actual American society, so we can say that their images are incomplete. The U.S. also has poverties and diseases. There are a good amount of people also struggling for their lives.
I do not know when I will be back to this place, but I definite visit “my Ghanaian people” again if I ever get a chance to go back.