Te dabai. It’s been some time!
I believe there is some truth in saying that all first time volunteers experience a low in the beginning of an experience abroad. I know I have, and I also know that I am climbing back out.
My particular low stemmed from many aspects: Being in such a different culture, leading me to feel extremely strange and downright stupid most times; missing my family and friends at home; feeling at first as though I may not be able to find purpose at work; and feeling sick, and constantly sweaty to name a few. These aspects led to an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, which then led on to an incredible feeling of guilt, for not loving every moment and taking advantage of this incredible experience.
Good news does come though! The past week, I have felt myself coming around the bend. I am surmounting this thing called the culture curve. See exhibit A:
I am enjoying the days, and really starting to acknowledge those moments when I am truly happy. I am feeling more and more purpose at work, and realizing just how much I have learnt in my past month in Ghana. Just yesterday, I wrote out a list of things I really appreciate about my surroundings in my journal. They are simple things that I failed to realize when I was feeling down, but now that I am feeling better, these fantastically simple things really do make a difference. I hope this short list also entices you to see the beauty that I’m experiencing!
The little things that count:
People calling just to see how you are doing, almost on a daily basis
The most genuine smiling that happens when you are greeting someone – especially the elderly women
Eating TZ and Okro soup out of the same bowl as my family, as they laugh and argue in Dagbani for hours
How little girls all have earrings
How people drive their motos extremely slow just to talk to all their friends on the way to their destination
The sound of the 7pm prayers, on a cloudless starry night
Loud exclamations of “Enh!!” in a conversation
Biking downhill on the way home, breathing in the beauty
How greetings to older, powerful men involve a bouncy, extended bow
How everyone calls each other sisters and brothers
Washing clothes by hand, barefoot on the hot cement of my compound
The shade of mango trees. Oh, and mangoes, I guess.
Tribal marks on faces
Markets, and how the ground is so chaotic
The love neighbors have for each other, and how it is acceptable to just walk into each other’s homes
All the plastic chairs with the unity symbol on them
FanIce icecream bicycles
The wide range of tro tro names, like ”Iron Man”, “Look into your soul”, “Meat Van” and “God Bless us
Music stores, blaring the latest pop music, or some lively Dagombe music
How beloved malt drinks are
How invested people are in their own families
The sound of rain thundering on the roof, even as it rushes through the window like a jet spray and soaks all my belongings 😛
Not ever worrying about my appearance – going several days without looking in a mirror
How you say “You are invited” – “Tidzima” to neighboring people every time you begin to eat
The full out, lively 3 hour dance party that makes up Sunday mass
Drumming, with women screaming to the music
Sayings like “Have you seen? (Do you get it)”, “I am going to the White House” (I’m going to take a shit), “Daybreak” (good morning), “I believe it is in order” (basically agreeing with a statement)
How you can get a full out delicious meal for 50 pesewas
The rooster outside my room cock a doodle doo-ing every morning starting at 4:00 AM.. K, not always.
The comfortable silence that can exist between two women of different culture and language
The extra mile of joy that comes from relating with someone, even on the most trivial level
Eating with your hands and no shame
The first shock of dumping water on yourself when taking the twice daily bucket bath
The realization of how truly little material things you need to lead a comfortable life
How holding hands with someone is entirely natural
The sound of pounding fufu
The plastic teapots found everywhere used to wash
Shortened figure of speech, like”go-come” for “I will go and come” (I will be back later), “How?” for “How
is it?” (How are you?)
So there you have it – the preliminary list of what Ghana really makes wonderful, and the small things that are helping me to appreciate the bigger ones.
Next time, I promise humour. (Hold me to that one.)
As for me, I am off!! Di tu biela!