Re-acclimating myself back to “MY” world hasn’t been too crazy – not like a person who’s gone for 6 or more months. Small little things crossed my mind – I kept thinking I was hearing Fante, questioning the safety of the water, even getting my mind programmed not to listen for the goats and tropical birds that woke me up every morning. I honestly didn’t think I’d miss Ghana – but I sort of do! My Ghanaian friends will be pleased to hear that, I’m sure 😉
My first evening, after arriving home from the airport – I was so grateful to take a shower – that was warm 🙂 Then, I climbed into bed where I wasn’t worried about small ants, mosquitoes, and flesh eating spiders. I adjusted to the time pretty easily; fortunately, my body goes with the sun. Unfortunately, this makes me wake up WAY early and want to go to bed at 730 in the evening. It took about 46 hours from door to door – small cat naps on the airplane, and when I finally laid my head down I think it was about 49 hours.
I hope to continue working with GNDCS as they continue with their mission over in Ghana to improve the quality of education for deaf children – and more importantly, as they work towards changing society so that all deaf and disabled can have a quality, meaningful, wonderful life. It was truly a roller coaster of an adventure. I didn’t realize this until I was sitting here reflecting. Aside from the food and bugs – customs and the societal attitude towards education of the disabled and their worth were impressions that struck my heart with magnitude.
On any given day, I wasn’t sure what sort of meat I was eating – if I asked what it was, the response was simply, “meat.” I came to find, later, meat means beef. I tried to sample as many local dishes as I could – I enjoyed the experience and the willingness of the people to share with me. Handshakes with snaps – I never mastered this. I was successful most times 😀 The language – aside from basic greetings, I don’t know much – however, the patterns of their discourse are forever imprinted in my mind. If linguistics offered a program that was simply field study, though I wouldn’t have signed up for this before, I was really intrigued and captivated by varying inflections and use of simple noises within their speech: eh, uh, ahh, clicking – simple, short, meaningful.
The students will eternally be in my heart. My last day I shook all of their hands; on their own accord, they each gave me a hug. We WILL meet again; it won’t be soon enough. I found myself questioning whether or not the teachers felt influential, had adequate training, wanted to be there – felt the students could learn. With 5 English books to 22, and math books at – maybe, 15 for the same sort of class…with a class that ranged in age from 14 through 22 years…with an inadequately trained staff regarding sign language….with a lack of consistency of the language throughout the country….with teachers who comment “I don’t know why we have to give them exams, they don’t even understand English”…with the conclusion that the teachers have an element of learned helplessness and lack of ambition…with students who have been SELF taught for their entire lives I am amazed at, although it is not a high level, the level that they are academically. I am forever impressed at their thirst for knowledge – their willingness to work through breaks in order to LEARN! Their inquisitive ponderings, their innocent view on life. Their sufferings and desire to continue to take the world head on to prove I AM WORTH SOMETHING!!
When I initially embarked on this journey, people would say I would never be the same. I didn’t disagree, but I never understood the magnitude of that statement until I sit here writing down my experiences as tears of sorrow, gratitude, and love stream down my face. I am extremely blessed to have been able to have this time, however short, with the students and the people of Ghana. I promise I will do my best to aid GNDCS in their mission. Dear reader, I urge you to seek out a way you can travel abroad – I urge you to check in with your perspective of those who are disabled. I quote from when I spoke at the church – though, I don’t know it was necessarily me speaking “God created us all. God doesn’t make mistakes. We are all important.”
I close with this. There was one girl from Dayton who wanted to serve in Accra. There was one school in Ohio who wanted to help. I was born in 1979, moved to AZ in 1995 where I saw a movie Mr. Holland’s Opus – this movie stayed with me and when I later moved to Columbus, I saw ONE commercial that inspired me to become an interpreter. The web that made this experience possible, you are already a part of. You continue to be a part of it as these words resonate in your mind – as you ponder what you can do. ONE can do. ONE did. ONE does. ONE will continue doing and make eternal impacts. ONE is a powerful, wonderful, singularly fruitful number. Many ONEs can make stupendously wonderful differences.
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. – Spencer W. Kimball