YES Abroad Ghana: Coming Home

 In Ghana

 

It’s been the better part of year since I left America for Ghana. 66 blog posts and 387 coconuts later, here I am!

I’ve bought my last souvenir, packed my suitcases to the brim, eaten my last fufu.

During the year I’ve thought about giving up and leaving early, missed my brother’s wedding, watched friends move on past their high school days.

Was the experience worth it? Do I really recommend it to others? If I could go back would I do it all again?

Despite all the troubles, I emphatically answer YES to all the above questions.

Being an exchange student for 10 months in a third world country can be rough. The distractions of keeping in touch with everyone from back home and traveling independently are great in the moment, but hurt in the end. Back in months 3-5, I was seriously considering packing my bags and heading home. The only thing that kept me going at that point was my blog.

What made my exchange worth it was the people. The realization that despite poverty, religion and skin color; we are all one people.

What of the chef who instructed me to go to the market and buy ingredients, most of which I’ve never even heard of? She’s my auntie. The wrinkly woman in the market selling bags of purified water for a nickel apiece? She’s my grandmother. And the other YES Abroad students/other AFS participants? They’re my brothers and sisters.

Blogging has been an imperfect window into my life abroad – many experiences simply cannot be articulated online. I don’t think any amount of writing can do justice to the beauty of the squalor that is Malata market. Neither can I explain what it’s like to have brothers all across  the world, nor the feeling of comfort  when sharing one bowl of soup using only right hands to eat. They are things one must experience for oneself.

People doubted my leaving America to come to Ghana. I doubted my leaving America to come to Ghana. Ghanaians were boggled that I would do such a thing.

It took 10 months, but the whole exchange is finally making sense. While I don’t think I can explain online what I gained from this experience, I will say this: Never forget to be grateful for everything you have.

To New YES students: Your experience has only just begun. Stereotypes thrive on ignorance; we are the 1%. We’ve lived with Muslim families for the better part of a year without hearing about bombs. s. And most of all, we’ve proved that Obruni or Obibini, black or white, Muslim or atheist, we are all human beings.

Let us think of ourselves as human beings; not defined by country lines, religion, or skin color. Superficialities beyond our control don’t define us; we are all human beings; citizens of the world.

I’d like to thank the State Department, everyone involved with YES Abroad, AFS Ghana, and the US Embassy for everything they’ve done. I believe in this scholarship’s mission, and will do everything I can to give back. Another thank you to my two outstanding host families. Finally, thank you to my fellow Americans for their support throughout this year. Drew, Adriana, Balthazar, Bany, Logan, and Kyla – I couldn’t have made it without you.

To Americans, Ghanaians, and YES Abroaders alike– Judge individuals rather than groups. Defy the status quo. If someone says “it’s impossible”, use their doubt as motivation to prove them wrong.

We will change the world.

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Showing 10 comments
  • Louise Segura
    Reply

    AMEN!  Welcome home! You will see all with new eyes, but be patient and remember  your last words in the blog! It's been such a joy to know you through this experience. Makes continuing to volunteer with youth so very rewarding in a world where most news on TV or in the periodicals is only reporting on those who draw negative attention. AFSers are of like mind. Please stay in touch!
     

  • Dr. Gerry Segal
    Reply

    Beaautifully said Avery, I look forward to your return.  Love,   Dad
     

  • Catherine
    Reply

    Beautifully said! I've enjoyed reading your blog this year. It's definitely a source of inspiration and entertainment! 

  • Cathy
    Reply

    I have looked forward to your Blogs and am not sure what I will do without them once you get home. I hope you find your life back at home a learning experience too. You will walk and talk with different eys and voice based on all you learned while away. So very proud of you.
    Cuz-Cathy

  • Kathryn Deas
    Reply

    Really enjoyed reading this, and all of your posts, Avery!  So beautifully 
    written and truly from the heart.  Congratulations!

  • Carole Petty
    Reply

    The experience you have shared with friends and family these past months has been totally amazing – I looked forward to each one (really first wanted to make sure you were ok …) I know you will be on a whirlwind when you come home – seeing your brothers who have taken up challenges and moved from Fla, getting ready to enter college and re-uniting with mom and dad ..Will see you as soon as possible — welcome home and love you …aunt carole
     

  • Aisha Nartey, U.S. Embassy, Accra-Ghana
    Reply

    Hmmmmmmm, Avery, I will surely miss you and your postings on your blog which I find very interesting and educating even as a Ghanaian and I have over the months linked your blog to people I know will find it interesting to read and see Ghana from the eyes of Obruni (smile).  Congratulations for braving all the odds to stay to the end of your program.  Wish you well and please stay in touch.

  • Yao Kuwornu (U.S. Embassy, Accra)
    Reply

    Avery, I think your blog was one of the most educative blogs I read over the period you were here. Though I never commented, I kept reading and liking what I read. I guess you've given other YESers an idea to keep them through the storms of exchange life. I'm proud of how bravely you matched on even when you felt like giving up. Indeed, you and many of your kind who go through exchange experience – will change the world. Keep up your good posts and thanks for coming to Ghana.

  • beth
    Reply

    Hey baby that was wonderful! Keep it up god bless i love you!:* love ur girl, beth

  • Mama Sue
    Reply

    Avery,

    I just reread this post. So articulate. For such a young person, you express yourself so well.

    Enjoy England,

    XO,
    Mama

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