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My Ghanaian Experience This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   For the past two summers I have been a participant in World Learning, a program in international living for high school students. During the first summer I had a homestay with a family in France. This past summer I joined a community service program in Ghana.

As a World Learning alumnus, I wondered before I left for Ghana how my program there would compare to my visit in France, which I had really enjoyed. In retrospect, I can honestly say that, while the experiences were completely different, my summer in Ghana matched, and even exceeded, the excellent summer I spent experiencing a different culture and practicing my language skills in France.

In many ways, the most rewarding part of the African journey for me was getting to know the ten other members of my group. We came from places as different as a small town in rural Iowa and the inner city of Brooklyn. Our personalities were as diverse as our backgrounds. However, we became a close-knit community where our diversity was an asset, not a stumbling block. Our group leader, a former Peace Corps volunteer, was both a leader and a full member of our group.

I found my homestay in Accra, the capital of Ghana, to be another wonderful part of the program. Although I had to negotiate the perils of staying in a house without running water, this was more than balanced by the friendliness of my host family. Whether I was playing soccer or cards with my host brothers or going to the funeral of a tribal chief with my host father, it seemed as if my host family was always there for me. I was especially grateful to them when I had the dubious pleasure of coming down with malaria, an experience thankfully not typical of other members. Even though I had to remain at my host family's home for an extra half-week, they were still more than willing to supply me with shelter, medical care, and most importantly, their friendship and support.

Our community service was another positive part of the program for me. Our project involved carrying dirt to raise the floor of a school. While the work itself was not intellectually stimulating, the ability to help the people in the village made me feel as if every ounce of effort was worth it.

I would be lying if I said that every moment of the program was a joy. Certainly many little things (like having to take a cold bucket bath in the morning) made me wonder periodically, Why am I doing this? However, there were no major annoyances. In fact, there was nothing that could compare with all the good experiences I had. The World Learning program allowed me to participate in a true international experiment in living for which I will always be grateful. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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