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Donyae, UA '22 – Ghana
“In the month of July, I took one of the most memorable trips in my life. Though the process was not at all an easy one, with the help of Mrs.Moats, the UA Foundation, and EIL, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Ghana for an entire month. During this extremely eventful trip, I was able to almost fully immerse myself in a Ghanaian culture, while also learning a lot from the students I lived with and all of the many amazing other people I met along the way.
Visiting Ghana had always been a lifelong dream of mine, so the fact that I was able to go free of charge, earning a college credit, and interning at Ghana’s first up and coming photography establishment, was nothing less than a blessing from God. I had only imagined taking a trip like this later on in my life, when I felt far more mature and financially stable, but what EIL helped me realize was that my age should not discourage me from taking on the world.
Due to the fact that I was one of the two oldest teens on the trip, I naturally took on most leadership roles. I often led group discussions and went out of my way to include others so that they felt safe and at home, so it would be safe to say that I became everyone’s older sister in a way. This just goes to show how important it is to step out of your comfort zone and just try new things because if I had not been brave enough to leave the country, I would not have been able to further my social and leadership skills.
Part of the reason why I was so comfortable in Ghana was because honestly it just felt like home. Whether it was engaging with the friendly SIT Ghana staff, enjoying Nana Ama’s home cooked jollof and chicken for dinner, or even just lounging around in the common areas of strange hotels with the rest of the students, there was never a time where I was desperate to go back to the US. I may have exaggerated a bit in the last sentence because there were definitely times when I missed home, but for the most part I loved living at my home away from home. Something that I really appreciated in Ghanaian culture, was the fact that the people there really put an emphasis on community and unity, which I think really sets the country apart from America. In the United States, it is uncommon for people to engage in genuine conversation without having an ulterior motive, but in Ghana, people ask you about how your night went and they are still waiting for your response. It took a while to get used to because we are so divided in the states, but I grew to appreciate the daily interactions with others. There was a strong sense of belonging in Ghana that I could not receive anywhere else. I truly believe that this trip has allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for my ancestral roots, even though I am not completely sure where my ancestors were from.
I definitely plan on learning more about different African cultures and the honorable people around the African Diaspora. One of my favorite excursions during the trip would have to be when we visited Cape Coast and Cape Coast Castle. I learned that Cape Coast Castle is where the Europeans would hold the enslaved people of West Africa, when waiting to take them to the Americas. Just being there and experiencing what my ancestors went through for centuries, undeniably made slavery that much more real to me. There is definitely a difference between reading about the TransAtlantic Slave Trade in history books and actually being there where it took place. Living in Ghana for a month was truly a blessing in disguise. I learned a lot about myself and about Ghanaian culture. I believe that this trip will forever hold a special place in my heart and I would love to someday visit again. I certainly would not have been able to do any of this on my own and I want to thank UA Foundation, SIT Ghana, and EIL for allowing this to happen.”