May 26, 2016
About 24 hours later, I arrive to Yiri Lodge at The University of Ghana, Legon. The flight to London allowed me to sleep through the night but only gave me an hour to sprint through Heathrow to my next gate. I cleared customs and took a bus to get to my plane, like you see the president or famous people do. The second plane was hot and prepared me for what was next. I was enamored by my view of the land, clouds, ocean and even Saharan Desert from my window seat. I witnessed the African continent dotted with few lights in the darkness. I wondered what was between the patches of light
Attendants at Kotoko airport made sure I had my yellow fever vaccine before entering. I was a proud pubic health advocate. I passed customs and quickly collected my bags in a large warehouse-looking room. I was with 2 other girls from Rutgers. A handful of other RU girls approached us to say they were headed deeper into the airport to meet the driver from Sunseekers Tours. I exchanged my first $100USD for one of the better exchange rates. There, I met Daniel, also known as Kofi, a Sunseeker tour guide that would safely teach me about Ghana for the next several weeks.
The crowd outside the airport was swarming. I followed the tour guide to a bus down the street where the other Rutgers students were waiting. Everyone called for us, “Obrouni, Obrouni…. Tst…..Tst…..” trying to sell or make business with us. They were yelling “foreigner”, kindly trying to get my attention. I felt like a foreigner, oblivious as to how to navigate the culture. The crowd functions and reacts much differently than what I’m used to.
I’m hungry and thirsty because I haven’t eaten since New York. The humidity also sticks to my skin; the nights are not cool. I’m completely drained and unnourished, and it’s just the start. I didn’t know how I would get energy back in the coming days because one night’s sleep in a hot room I knew would not be enough.
I forgot to mention, I’m taking a risk by traveling to Africa. I am recovering from a brain injury I sustained some time ago that has had lasting effects. I have always wanted to study abroad to Africa since I was young. The moment I found out about this community service-learning trip, I knew I had to go or I would regret it. My invisible injury has limited and disabled me for months and years. However, I’m ready to see where my limits are. For five weeks, I will be on the trip of a lifetime that will make my college career and make me feel like I have not surrendered everything to my injury. I’m excited and ready to go! Ghana welcomes me: Akwaaba!