This past January I had the opportunity to travel to Ghana with my college business program. I still think about my trip to this day, so I’m going to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite parts of the trip.
My first day in Ghana we visited a chief’s castle in the mountains. While there we met the medical team, who were giving aid to the elderly. This was my first look into true Ghanaian hospitality. It was the chief’s birthday and on his special day he chose to welcome us into his home. Not to mention he also had his servants cooking and bringing food down to the elderly patients of the village. I was taken back by this selfless act from the chief. To a certain extent I almost felt upset that I was surprised by such a kind act. Why was I not used to seeing kindness around me? That was when I knew Ghana was going to be unlike anywhere I’ve ever been or anything I’ve ever seen.
One of the more fascinating parts of the trip was when we visited a local fish market. I went in not really sure what to expect, but it was incredible. To an outsider looking in one would think it was hectic. However, I thought it was beautiful. The way it worked was like a community. They all watched out for one another, working in harmony. This was their livelihood, something that had most likely been in their family for generations. It was clear to me how amazing it was that they created their own little business sector.
Later in the trip we traveled to Cape Coast. Our first night there we visited a slave castle. The beauty of the castle made it hard for me to picture what terrible and horrendous things had occurred there. In a previous travel, I had visited a concentration camp in Germany. I had a very similar heavy feeling while being at the slave castle. It was hard for me to take in what had happened directly beneath my feet. Before this trip slavery felt like it was long gone history. Little did I know was how prevalent it still is today and how little time had elapsed between then and now. It was hard for me to process and still is to this day. How as human brothers and sisters could one race do this to another? How could something as simple as a physical characteristic make one person more important than another? In what ways was any of this justified? Walking throughout that castle made me linger on these questions and feel sick to my stomach. I prayed for those who had lost their souls there. I made a silent vow to myself to always stick up for what I think is ethically right.
The following day was spectacular. We went on a jungle walk along the top of the jungle. On the way to the jungle walk I noticed the innovations of Ghanaian people. On the dirt roads, the people of the town would create their own speed bumps by moving the dirt to one area. I assume this was to decrease the amount of dirt flying around their town. I absolutely loved that little innovation. We also passed through beautiful rainforests and I got the opportunity to spot some monkeys. When we arrived to the jungle walk I was in awe. The beauty around me was unreal. The walk up the mountain was so educational as I got a glimpse into Ghana’s ecosystem. When we reached the jungle walk at first, I was intimidated by the vastness. As soon as I stepped on the walk however, I was elated. The natural beauty around me was stunning. I looked down and could just see the tops of the trees. At first it was scary, but I soon got comfortable with it. Hearing the laughter of my group while we were there made all the jitters I experienced before getting to the walk worth it.
After being in Cape Coast we headed back to Accra. While back in Accra I had the opportunity to teach young children at a school. The school was ecstatic to have us there. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a traditional African dance by two students. It was an amazing thing to experience. I remember being introduced to the children and having them be so beyond excited to simply say my name back to me.
We broke up into classrooms and I was put with class 3. They ranged from around 7-10 years old if my memory serves me correctly. The energy in the room was crazy. I was supposed to be teaching coding on the computer, but after arrival we soon learned that there was only one computer for all of the school. My team and I quickly adjusted and decided to go with a different lesson plan. We would have them create sounds (or beats) with their hands and feet to help them understand that there’s different components to making a computer work, similar to there being sounds in music to have it come together and make a song. The kids loved it.
Upon coming home, I finally looked through all the pictures and videos I took. The entire trip I had my camera glued to my side as I tried to capture whatever I could. I was so amazed by the eagerness of people who didn’t know me and still wanted to be captured on my camera. It was so wonderful and pure. A lot of the people and children I photographed had never seen themselves on a camera before. Their reactions are something I will never forget.
Overall this was an experience I will never lose touch with and will always keep very close to my heart. It was such an honor to be received into Ghana with such open arms even though I was a complete stranger. The knowledge I have gained from this trip will last me a lifetime.