I'll start by apologizing for the unoriginality of my blog. My mom is a scrapbook pro, so you'd think some of her talent might have rubbed off on me. Yeah, no. I created a blog, picked the template background that looked like it could maybe be an African savanna, and ended up with a page full of clouds... and that's how it's gonna be forever. Sorry.
I am one day away from setting out on my "adventure across the pond." My family and friends have expressed horror at how little I've packed, but I think I've covered all the essentials (peanut butter, nutella, and frisbees. What else could I possibly need?) My luggage is sitting in the office behind the Niemeyer front desk and I'm spending the afternoon relaxing and hoping that it doesn't get locked up back there before I have a chance to retrieve it.
If you aren't already in the loop, I'm heading to Ghana (Africa) for a five week service-learning trip through the Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley. Our trip will include work in a school for the deaf and blind, participation in Annie & Uma's clean water initiative, and involvement with the outreach organization called Challenging Heights.
My pre-departure thoughts? I think I've forgotten how crazy this trip really is. I've spent so long talking about it that what was once unreal now seems entirely possible. Only my friends remind me from time to time that Africa isn't your typical vacation destination. My biggest concerns are small things. I'm worried about a daunting bus ride to Damongo and back (I get car sick very easily). I'm concerned about how well I'll handle the change from a steak-and-hamburger diet to one of rice, fufu, and red-red. In particular, I'm not a big fan of my fish having eyes and watching me while I try to figure out how best to eat them. And I'm really hoping that I don't waste any amount of my trip laid out in bed with malaria.
My excitement for the trip far outweighs any of my concerns. Many students travel to Spain, Germany, Australia, and other westernized places where they can see the world without sacrificing their McDonalds and flush toilets. Very few places will offer the same unique cultural experience that I'm going to have in Ghana. I've heard a lot of great things from my friends who traveled there last summer, and I can't wait to share in these experiences and have some new ones of my own.
I've always been told that there are things that can't be taught in a classroom, and I'm one plane ride away from finding out what they are.