I was never the same since the summer of 2015, I remember all the thoughts and feeling that engulfed me from the moment I entered John Hopkins Airport, to the time I landed in Kotoka International Airport. It was new experience, my first time on a plane, first time leaving the country and entering another, and arriving in a foreign destination to stay for an extended period of time. Yes, I remember what it was like to study abroad in Accra, Ghana.
As a senior in my final year as an undergrad at Cleveland State University (CSU) I decided to study abroad in Ghana, West Africa to satisfy requirements for my Black Studies Major. While it wasn’t necessary for me to study abroad to graduate, I’d thought it would be a great experience and a wonderful way to close out my undergraduate adventures at CSU. After having talked it over with an advisor in the Center for International Services and Programs at CSU, I decided it was something I needed, and decided to pursue the opportunity to study abroad with the United Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) in Ghana.
There were many African countries I could have chosen from to satisfy my Black Studies major requirements including Botswana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania to name the few most prominent study abroad destinations on the African continent, yet I decided to study abroad in Ghana. There were several reasons I choose to study in Ghana: There is a strong historical connection between the African American community in America and Ghana, going back to Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah who openly invited African Americans to come and help the country to build post-independence, and wanted to strengthen ties between people of African descent within the diaspora (“diaspora” meaning a group who are living away from their original homeland), and with Africans in Africa.
Today there exist African American communities in Ghana, and notable African Americans in the past have been welcomed and resided peacefully within the county during their time, including Dr. W.E.B. Dubois (Scholar, Pan Africanist, Civil Rights Activist, and Author), Robert Lee (Dentist and Activist), and his wife Sara Lee. Aside from the sizeable African American population there, Ghana is a English speaking country, which presumingly I believed would allow for easier linguistic transition, though Ghanaians speak British English and not American Standard English, and some Ghanaians don’t speak English at all but their own native languages.
With Ghana on my mind, throughout the fall and spring semesters of the 2014-2015 school year, I toiled tenaciously to gather the necessary documentation (passport, visa), medications (shots, pills), information and had to extensively plan and prepare for my eventual departure to Ghana. It was a tedious process, doing all of the prep in addition to having to maintain my curricular activities, yet I was able to maintain myself and accomplish all I set out forth.
I had long wished to visit the African continent, the home of my ancestors, the origins of mankind. I hadn’t thought it was possible initially, a young Black man from Cleveland Ohio leaving everything behind him to pursue a desire that was further manifested by my awakened interest and passion in everything African (me). I hadn’t thought it was possible, I didn’t see a lot of people like me attempting to prepare to do such a thing (study abroad) let alone even consider it, I had no example to follow - so I decided to create my own.
That desire to create my own allowed me on May 31st 2015, to say goodbye to my family and closest friends as I prepared for my journey. This would be a journey of first: The first time I’d enter a airport, fly on a plane, leave the country-continent, and enter another country-continent. My itinerary was to fly from John Hopkins International Airport, Cleveland Ohio to O’hare international airport Chicago Illinois, than to Heathrow International Airport London England, and finally to Kotoka International Airport Accra, Ghana.
Experience - Heathrow Airport London
After successfully flying from Cleveland to Chicago, and to Chicago to London, I was well on my way to Ghana. As I was waiting around during my layover in London, I found myself amazed by all that existed around me. The architecture of Heathrow Airport, the currency differences, food, entertainment, the vast amount of people from different nations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the linguistic diversity and expressions. It was a lot to take in, but I enjoyed every second of it, who would have thought being in an airport in another nation would be so exciting?!
I was so in fact excited, that I decided to chat with a gentleman from Nigeria for sometime to discuss my experience thus far. After a nice good engagement, we said our goodbyes and parted our separate ways. As I approach my gate, I noticed there was no one there! I asked the flight attendant present when if this was the correct gate the Ghana flight departure and he replied, “Sorry sir, this plane has already departed”. As I stood mortified, I asked when was the next flight to Ghana, and he replied “tomorrow”...I thought to myself how could this happen? Surely I hadn’t taken that must time to talk to the gentlemen earlier, what gives? Then I noticed my mistake; on my ticket the departure time departure was “13:00 hours” or 1:00 p.m., I misread it as being 3:00 p.m...So two hours late to my gate, wondering what the heck went wrong, now I know.
After reconciling my ineptitude, I had to think positively about the situation, “everything happens for a purpose” I thought to myself, this is an example of that, just think positively, what’s done is done, embrace it. I went to customer service to reschedule my flight, which wasn’t possible free of additional charges because not only did I miss my flight, it was delayed for twenty minutes because I hadn’t shown and my baggage had to be taken off the plane, much to the pilots aggravation from what I was told. I ended up having to rebook my ticket out of pocket since it’s not the plane's fault I missed it, it was my fault.
I had only $175 U.S dollars on me, and had to spend every last dollar to rebook my ticket, which I actually believe the ticket to rebook was more but the British Airports customer service representatives felt pity for me, so they gave me the ticket for whatever I had (bless their souls!). My flight would depart the following day around 1:00 p.m., and so for close to a whole 24 hours, I’d have to remain in the airport and wait for my next flight. I couldn’t afford a hotel because I was broke so I had to remain in the airport. I had no money, but I had items to barter with (Ipods, phone chargers, usb attachments, etc.) in case of a situation like that. I sold an ipod touch for $20 to another Nigerian gentlemen I met (it was semi broke, and I told him that), which allowed me to buy ramen and green tea and feed me for the evening, the gentlemen also kept me company until he departed on his way to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. He had also missed his flight earlier as well (which was comforting actually to know that i wasn’t the only one).
As the afternoon transitioned into evening, I lounged around the airport, charging my electronics and attempting to get as much sleep as I could. As night fell I, and other people who’ve missed their flight had to move to the “basement” of the airport until the following me. I ended up finding a corner to rest in, along with a young lady from China and Uzbekistan. For the night we all took turns watching each other's belongings as we used the restroom, which was interesting see as how none of us spoke each other's language (the young Chinese lady spoke Chinese, and the women from Uzbekistan spoke Russian), yet we knew the universal for “can you watch my belongings while I use the restroom?”
I was able to drink water and eat protein bars that I brought from Cleveland with me to help supplement myself should I find myself in predicament (glad I did!), and get as much sleep as I could. As the morning approached, myself and the two other ladies said our goodbyes and went our respective ways. I found myself sleeping around the airport on those relaxing reclining lounge chairs as I waited for several hours to pass by to catch my flight. As I lounged around I was joined by a few passer-by’s all from different nations who also wished to catch up on some shut eye. Then the hour approached, it was time to board my flight, which I did this time and was on my way to Ghana. I was glad to have had the experience that I did in the airport though, it was intriguing, who would have thought this was how my journey would begin, if only I knew that I hadn’t experience anything yet.
Experience - My 1st Night in Ghana, West Africa
I departed London a bit after 1 p.m., and was a few hours away from arriving in Ghana. I really enjoyed my flight to Ghana, I flew over France, Morocco, Algeria, Mali and Burkina Faso on my way into Ghana and I was astonished by the beauty of the countries that I flew over. Such vivid colors, hues of brown that represented the desert as I flew over Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, and northern Ghana. Southern Ghana was very lush and green full of life and abundance. It was truly remarkable.
I had befriended some Ghanaians on the flight to the country, Dr. Mensah, a pharmacist and his son from the states. Dr. Mensah told me if I needed anything feel free to ask him. I was appreciative of that, it was good to meet new people from different culture, it was an enlightening experience and an example of cross cultural communication, which I believe is necessary to remove barriers and better understand people.
As the plane descended into Ghana I thanked Dr. Mensah and his son and went on about my way, having finally reached my destination. As I departed the plane, I was met with Ghana’s humidity that felt like you're standing in front of an oven with the heat flying in your face as your drench sweat upon sweat. I never sweat so much standing in my life as I wanted for the shuttle bus to come. As I entered the airport I presented all my necessary identification, cleared the various security checkpoints, retrieved by belongings through the hundreds of people that stood waiting for their belongings as well.
Now, after having retrieved my belongings I than attempted to leave the airport, which was a tedious process after having been asked for a bride by one airport official and fending off the schemers in the airport who try to either sell foreigners SIM cards, attempt take your belongings for a fee (they won’t tell you that at first!) or lure you into any other sort of ruse. After pushing through all that, I exited the main airport gates, and much to my amazement, and uncomfortable bewilderment, I was greeted by hundreds of staring eyes as I exited the airport. There were dozens of people (Ghanaians) holding signs looking for whoever they’re supposed to meet , as well as others just standing idly by. I was overtaken by this, especially because it was in this unexpected crowd that I was supposed to find my USAC contacts.
A bit nervous, I had walked back in the airport, failing to find my contacts I found Dr. Mensah and his son who was still waiting for their belongings (15 minutes later) and told him what occurred. He told to wait with him and he’d take me where I would need to go which was the University of Ghana in Legon. If failing to find my contacts wasn’t enough, a woman had approached me and said I had taken her luggage bag which was exactly identical to the one I had, which was terrible considering I attempted to leave the airport with this women's luggage, void of my own and hers was ”filled with all girl stuff”, as she told me…
Once Dr. Mensah and his son retrieved their luggage, we all departed together. Dr. Mensah had his family waiting for him and a few other contacts, who took us to Dr. Mensah’s mansion. Funny, I never stepped foot in a mansion before, and when I did it was in Ghana, on a continent supposedly void of wealth. I knew before hand that there was a deliberate myth in the West to relegate the African continent to a poverty stricken “dark continent”, yet this was just one of many examples to prove those notions otherwise.
Dr. Mensah's home was beautiful, as was the architecture, furnishing, decor and theme. I was offered chicken and rice by as I rested comfortably for some time watching “futbal” (soccer) for sometime with Dr. Mensah’s family as Dr. Mensah contacted my USAC contacts to inform them of my safe departure from the airport, and that he’d be taking me to the university hostel where I’d be staying. After a little bit of time passed, we departed to the hostel, I riding in the front passenger seat of a Jeep Liberty going down roads in Accra, the capital city at night. I was enthralled by this, I couldn’t believe I was really here in Ghana!
We soon reached the hostel, where I unpacked my bags from the jeep and said my thanks and goodbye to Dr. Mensah for all the help he extended. I experienced genuine Ghanaian hospitality, which I hadn’t ever experienced before. I was welcomed by the two USAC contacts once I arrived at the hostel that I was supposed to meet at the airport, and escorted to my temporary room. It was temporary because since I arrived a day late the hostel staff had to reorganize the room originally set up for me.
I was glad my room was temporary, it was a bit under kept and wasn’t cleaned (likely because it was temporary), I also was a bit dismayed that the wifi was down, because I really wanted to contact my family, and tell them all I was safe and well. Though I understood mentally these things occur, emotionally I was a bit dismayed. I decided to take my malaria medication then, and head to bed, hopefully settling these things the following day. Though I hadn’t sleep very well that night, the side effects of the malaria medication where occasional “night terrors”, which woke me up in a sweat in the night! I was a bit shaken, but somehow managed to fall back to sleep, partly due to singing the Kendrick Lamar song “We gon be alright” to myself and I attempted to console my discomfort.
Experience - University of Ghana
It was Wednesday morning June 2nd, I woke inside of my room with a sense of intrigue that I’d woken up in the room that I was in, in the hostel, at a foreign university on another continent. My first night slept on the continent, achievement. As I had gotten out of bed, I heard some chatter to my left, I walked and looked through my window facing north, I saw a bustling market outside my porch much to my surprise. Joined by the bustle, to the south, or the right of me as I got dressed and exited the room, I saw men mowing the lawn within the hostel pathways.
As I prepared to leave the hostel, one of the USAC student workers who I was supposed to have met at the airport greeted me and took me to the international student house to meet the rest of the program staff and study abroad students. It was there I familiarized myself with everyone and was able to use the house's wifi to contact my family and friends. I was very excited! My discomfort from the night before was gone, here I was, after all this traveling and time spent in motion, I am standing on the continent of Africa! It would be here for two months that I’d be studying, living, traveling, calling home.
Over the course of two months in the country I would take classes at the University of Ghana, in Legon which was a suburban community in Accra. I had decided to take “Contemporary Issues in Africa-Developing Countries” (Political Science), “African Music and Dance” (Music), and “Twi-African Language” (Language). The courses I took would satisfy my requirements for my Black Studies major back at CSU, I had also a double major actually in Political Science but at had satisfied all my requirements for that field.
I really enjoyed my courses, I enjoyed learning more about Africa from Continental born Africans (Ghanaians), from their perspective during my contemporary issues course, as well as continuing to cultivate my “Twi”, a local language in Ghana commonly spoken in Accra and Greater Accra.
I had been learning Twi for eight months prior to actually arriving in Ghana, my Ghanaian friend Akosua, had taught me enough beforehand to give me a heads up prior to entering the country. Then there was the African Music and Dance, this wasn’t something I initially was interested in, because I don’t care to dance! I decided it would be a good course to take because it’d get me out of my comfort zone (which it did), and to allow me to learn more about myself in environments I’m not used to, as well as it satisfied a requirement.
I enjoyed moving freely about the grounds of the campus, everyday I walked and subsequently built up a sweat as I moved from location to location. I would move from the hostel to the international student house, and from there possibly to the “Cafeteria”, one of several spots on campus to grab a bite to eat. There was “Bush Canteen” as well, where you could dine, shop and so forth as well as “Time Out” which was the equivalent of a American sports bar/barber shop/print shop and also the “Basement”, which offered buffets (even though they didn’t during the summer!). Then there was the “Night Market”, outside of my temporary rooms window, you could find a bit to eat, look around for supplies always bet to run into someone you knew there, which actually was likely to happen everywhere you walked on campus. I greatly enjoyed eating shikababs there as often as I could!
I found myself in the university's bookstore, where I was able to purchase a variety of books including renowned Nigerian author Chinua Achebe’s “There was a country”, alongside language, religious and any other book subject that tickled my fancy. I did my banking mostly at “EcoBank”, where I received my western union's (thanks mom!), and also the gym where I would workout if I decided to use equipment, otherwise I’d be in my own room exercising.
When I wasn’t out and about, I was at the hostel either in my room doing whatever, or outside my room around the hostel watching “futbol” with whomever watched it, used the wifi to surf the web on my phone, or simply enjoyed good conversations with people. I befriended many Ghanaians in and around the hostel, I made a lot of friends while I was there at the hostel in fact (facebook would tell you that!). I also meet a lot of other students from the states from various national and ethnic backgrounds as well who were also studying at the university for one reason or another.
I loved to travel, and traveled quite a bit around Accra, and around the country as well. Around Accra I went through the markets in Medina, than up to around Tema where I’d bargain in the ultra-expensive (especially for foreigners) “Art Market”. There was Osu, and Nima Zongo where I enjoyed watching the Eid Al-Fitr celebrations with my friend Daniel where we sat on top of a Toyota truck for several hours enjoying the festival. Wherever I wanted to go, I was a “TroTro’s” ride away! The TroTro’s where mini-buses that allowed for around twenty individuals max to go from one location to another, they were fast and efficient (usually), stripped of most luxuries and accessories, though sometimes they had Tv’s in them, most had radios still.
Some memorable times where at the Kwame Nkrumah memorial center, a site of homage to the country's first president and Pan Africanist revolutionary, the National Theater in downtown Accra where I and some friends saw a wonderful play revolving around Ghanaian history up until independence. On two occasions I’d go to “DNR”, a Turkish restaurant in Accra where I’d fall in love with the Turkish tea. These were trips in and around Accra primarily, then came the field trips sponsored by USAC. I along with the rest of the USAC students, and some of USAC student workers, I would get the opportunity go across the country. We had gone to “Kumasi”, the city of the Asante’s, home of the Asantehene, the monarch of the kingdom of the Asante, “Ada” beach in the Eastern region, as well as Kakum national park where myself and the USAC group/student workers slept in a tree house overnight and walked a hundred and fifty feet in the air over the canopy walk!
These experiences were remarkable, and unforgettable, then there were other experiences that seared their way into my soul.
Experience - Cape Coast Slave Castle
I visited Cape Coast Slave Castle on the trip to Kakum national park, but it was an experience that was unforgettable. I had the opportunity to set foot in a castle, a structure that likely was an export destination of my continental African Ancestors. I saw the dungeons, the chains, the cannons, the ocean waters crash against the rocks. I remember walking through the dark corridors and peering into crevices that were holding spots to enslaved Africans.
The sacrifice of one people, and the brutality of another was cemented upon my conscious as I moved around the castle, still it was a reminder of the greatest sacrifice one could make for future generations; surviving so there can be future generations. It was an emotional experience, but spiritually empowering and mentally resounding. I would never forget it, as I looked over the castle walls into the ocean as it sit alongside the castle walls, the last thing many of my forebears ever saw, the last time they saw the continent, their home.
Experience - Ankobra Beach Resort and Nzulezo Stilt Village
About seven hours from the hostel in Legon, is the Ankobra Beach Resort, a beautiful resort facing the atlantic ocean in the western region. My USAC group settled our belongings in at the resort where we than traveled an hour to the docks where we’d depart by canoe for another hour to the Nzulezo Stilt Village, situated on lake Tadane. The village was constructed on the water by those who had come from “Walata”, a city in the ancient Ghana Empire (Present day Mauritania). According to tradition of the village, the villagers ancestors brought them to their current location by way of a snail.
The Stilt village was a humbling experience. The lives of a community of people rest upon this village above the waters their ancestors provided for them, with agriculture and fishing being primarily ways they’re able to sustain themselves within the village. Ingenuity and a manifestation of will are powerful agents to be used to cultivate, preserve and inspire new life and greater existence. I enjoyed listening to the elders stories of how the village came to be, and taking note of the school, homes, and other facilities-institutions built to maintain the village and its integrity.
Upon returning to the Ankobra beach resort after an exhausting hour long canoe paddle session, and an hour long drive, myself and some other USAC students swam and played in the Atlantic ocean that night. It was a breathe taking experience, who’d have thought I’d be there kicking sand and staring at the moonlight as I stood in the ocean, with waves sliding past my feet. I found myself sitting underneath the moonlight on those sandy shores on the other side of the atlantic, thinking, praying, and thanking my creator for the opportunity presented to me. All around me was nature's abundance, as the listened to the chorus that was the ocean's waves and feel the earth beneath my feet.
The following morning we had all played in the water, along with volleyball and “futbol” alike. I decided after being swept by waves to many times and not knowing how to swim (bad recipe), to collect sea shells in the water. I enjoyed the plentifulness of the sea life deposits that washed up and around me and filled my pockets with as many as I possible could. I firmly remember as I prepared to leave the resort, to head back to Legon the joy that filled my heart looking into that ocean, those raging waters, and that wonderful big blue sky.
Experience - Volta Eco Tour
The last field trip I had with USAC, and a week prior before my departure from the country was the Volta Eco tour in the Volta region. In the Volta region myself and the USAC group would stay at a accommodating resort on top of a hill that overlooked small towns and where a close proximity from mountains. From the resort we would then go from there to the monkey sanctuary in the mountains. Myself, not much a fan of monkeys (or any primate really) enjoyed taking pictures and videos of the monkeys, but didn’t prefer having the monkey’s on me…
The following day we prepared to climb the tallest mountain in Ghana, Mt. Afadjato. The mountain was stunning, the vast degree of forest depth, the trees, wildlife and atmosphere really captivated me. I was ready for the climb! It took a bit over an hour, was intensive and sweat inducing, but I had done it, I climbed Mt. Afadjato, my first mountain climb ever! I really took it all in, I enjoyed every second of it, it’s not often you climb mountains you know. I took a moment to myself and prayed when my group departed back down the mountain, I had to relish the moment and be thankful for the opportunity. Though by my time to myself at the mountain's summit, I had made my group wait for me (much to their discontent), but to be honest I didn’t care, there are moments in a person's life when it can be appropriate to be selfish. I believe deeply that at the top of that summit, that was one of those moments.
Coming from the mountain the group and I would stop to eat, then hike through a trail to the Wli Waterfalls. The Wli waterfalls where the highest waterfalls in Ghana, at the top of the falls I saw bat flying around, they lived in the caverns up and around the falls. I and my group mates would do the daring, we’d hold hands and walk underneath the waterfall backwards and stand underneath it for a moment. It was actually painful standing underneath the falls with the water pressure being so heavy and dense. Still it was an exciting experience, memorable and noteworthy indeed. We would refresh ourselves, get our belongings and head back towards the resort.
The Volta trip was a very interesting trip, I felt of all the trips it actually may have been my favorite, primarily due to the climb of Mt. Afadjato. Nevertheless I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to have done all of that, the sanctuary, the climb, and the waterfalls. Precious experiences formed precious memories. I’ll never forget them.
Experience - Conclusion
Following my return from the Volta, I had another week left in the country. So much had occurred over those two months it was indeed an honor. I remember the multitude of feelings and thoughts, experiences and memories I encountered whilst being there. I lived in Ghana for two months, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I’d visit there. I’d be back. I had to come back, because I owned it to myself to get that experience again.
I was glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone, I experienced so many different things that way. I experienced the unexpected, I was surrounded by uncertainties, which was the only certainty I was guaranteed and I made my mark on those who I encountered and made life long friends. It was more than I had bargained for, but I took it. Everything happens for a purpose, I told myself that in heathrow, I told myself that again as I said my goodbyes as I began my departure. Ghana, summer 2015, what an experience.
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
My study abroad experience summer 2015 in Ghana was a monumental accomplishment in my life, and a catalyst for future endeavors. There were many things that helped drive me to go to Ghana, but tangibly speaking it either wouldn't have been possible or excessively harder to go if not for the Benjamin A. Gilman International scholarship that I was encouraged to apply for by my advisor in the Center for International Services and Programs at CSU.
The Benjamin A. Gilman International scholarship is a undergraduate grant program that’s available for U.S citizens who are in need of financial assistance which would enable them to study abroad. Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S Department of State, the Bureau helps to create multilateral ties amongst the United States and various other nations around the globe. With the intent to help produce peaceful and conducive ties, it is encouraged that undergraduate U.S students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at either a two-four year college or university apply to the program to either participate in study and intern experiences abroad.
I would encourage any student who is interested in having the opportunity to study and/or intern to apply for the scholarship. I received three thousand dollars from the scholarship and that helped me tremendously in being able to pursue my dreams and help foster my passions. It allowed me to have the opportunity of a lifetime that again otherwise may have been unavailable to me and dramatically re-shaped the way I saw myself, and the world around me.
To be considered for the Benjamin A. Gilman International scholarship, any potential applicant must complete the online application information as well as upload their official college transcripts at https://gilmanapplication.iie.org/applicant/. Also the applicant must make sure that their application is certified by their study abroad advisor and financial aid advisor. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that their respective advisors sign off on their applications. For more information about the application, applicants can review the application process content avaiable at http://www.iie.org/Programs/Gilman-Scholarship-Program/Application-Process.
The scholarship definitely enables one to have valuable experiences, and places them in an elite category of students who’ve also been awarded the scholarship. This gives the student who’ll hopefully after successful completion of their overseas experience, the opportunity to be among alumni from the program, who’ll be glad to assist a fellow alumni in yourself in connecting, sharing experiences, and discussing future pathways and career opportunities. The scholarship offers the “alumni ambassador program”, “international exchange alumni”, as well as other international education opportunities, and networking opportunities.
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a fantastic resume booster; employers are often looking for applicants with international experience and the Gilman provides just that. It can help gain access to professional opportunities otherwise not accessible, and also it will serve as a great resource in academic exposure, as an international education is an extremely valuable education. For those looking to further their studies in academia abroad, the Gilman helps to give either a first count experience of just that, or helps in furthering the international experiences of those who’ve had international experiences prior.
Finally, it is a way to experience the world like no other personally. It allows one to have experiences and opportunities that will undoubtedly be transformative, a true way to cultivate and build character. After having has the experience which the scholarship helped me achieve, I’m more interested in international travel than ever, and always encourage students to find ways and seek out opportunities to participate in international travel, as well as education, work, and the experience of a lifetime. I’m very thankful to have been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International scholarship, it helped me become who I am today.
Inspiration & Encouragement
I encourage anyone with a strong will to continue to nurture that will and pursue their dreams and ambitions, pursue them! Anything is possible, if you will desires something you must bring it into manifestation and become that luminary that will inspire others. Cultivate and allow your hidden, limitless potential to foster and spread wings that will fly into the multiverse, push past limits and become what it is you’re destined to become!
You can become the impossible, continue to work hard and inspire others, work hard and practice steady discipline, patiently persevere and remain steadfast in the face of adversity. You can overcome any hurdle with faith, effort, and a belief in something bigger than yourself. Continue to believe in yourself and again, become the impossible. Defeat is first realized in the mind, castaway doubt and regret and move forth tenaciously conquering all obstacles that come before you.
I will say, it was there that I found myself, naked (figuratively speaking) in the midst of a world of uncertainty, and excitement. I saw things I never saw before, heard things that I never heard before, and was filled with sensory sustenance that caressed my essence and inspired me to be inspired. I learned during my time in Ghana how to be comfortable being uncomfortable, how to have adaptable comfort zones, how to shift between different facets of the self and to listen to your intuition. I was able to develop a degree of consistency and forbearance that yield conducive self growth which helped deepen my maturation process.
Myself, Ghana (Africa), and the African American Community
I have to end with this. Ghana was good to me, I, an African American or rather simply an African myself on a continent of Africans. My ethnicity has it place, but to be amongst my brothers and sisters whom I’m only separated from by oceanic barriers was a time to rejoice, it was an tribute to the Pan African experience that bound us together. I was proud to be a African in Africa, upon my return I heavily encouraged African Americans in my community and elsewhere to visit the continent, whether it be Ghana or another country. I felt that my experience was so very profound because I genuinely felt at home in Ghana, I escaped the ravages of American racism and the inadequacies of being a “minority” in America, to being a majority in a country I people who look like me.
I felt as comfortable as could be moving about with no fear of police brutality or racial suspicion. I saw myself, empowered and inspired with seeing traditional African culture at work, culture that was the ancestral foundation for African American culture. There was no place I’d rather have been but on the continent, Ghana had been that doorway to show me there was indeed another side to everything I’ve experienced on the other side of the ocean. I’m indebted to Ghana for that. I encourage more members of the African American community to see what I’ve seen for their own eyes, see the world, see what else the world has to offer and the abundance of opportunities that lie in wait to be championed. I feel it is necessary for us to seek opportunities and pastures elsewhere in the world, to liberate ourselves and seek self determination; advance, empower, and re-educate ourselves, understand who we really are as a people, our true culture, and our collective purpose.
I’ve always said, you are what you allow yourself to become. I choose to become something more in life, Ghana was the conduit that allowed me to become just that. I’m thankful for everything that was given to me, I’m thankful for everything I fought tooth and tail to procure. Set your sights high, and realize the future is that you make it. Be at peace with yourself and you will be at peace with others, be true to yourself, and stay true to yourself always. Peace out!