I am having one of those moments where there are so many thoughts and things I want to say that I am kind of at loss for words. In fact, I’ve been having a lot of those moments since arriving in Ghana. Since we have not done anything particularly new (that someone has probably not already written about) lately, I’ll take the opportunity to write about what motivated me to come to Africa and the effects of staying here.
“What is the first thing you’ll do when you get home?” Kaneisha posed this question to a couple of us one day. Not having a specific answer, I listened, curious to see what the others had to say. “Laundry” someone responded. I assume everyone reading this has lived a content life (at least in terms of survival) with warm showers, food on the table, smooth transportation, and the list goes on. Not surprisingly, one of my ulterior motives for coming here was to learn to appreciate the everyday necessities I had. Although I am fortunate to say I have always lived a comfortable life, I grew up with a father who couldn’t quite say the same about his own childhood experiences and a mother who traveled so much while growing up she was often coined “daughter of the world” because no one could associate her with one nationality. Having been traveling internationally since I was two months old, (if you grow up on a small island like Taiwan, you’re bound to travel from an early age even if it means kayaking to get to HongKong-Google’s instructions, not mine.) I quickly learned that traveling and experiencing different cultures is one of the best forms of education anyone can receive. As blessed as I am to have traveled to numerous places, I knew there was something lacking in my experiences, I was missing out on a way of life that millions of people (including my father once upon a time) understood and lived in. It was a way of life that valued and appreciated these everyday necessities that I had, because they did not. Mother Teresa once quoted “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” My stomach was always full, but I was hungry for this kind of appreciation. This keyword was one of the strongest lessons my father ingrained in me, and while I do my best to appreciate all that I have, it can be difficult to at times with no experiences to compare it to. As amazing as the Eiffle Tower and Great Wall of China are, they simply do not the trick to satisfy this hunger for appreciation that I have. So I embarked on my journey to Africa.
While I think we are still living very comfortably here, I certainly have been forced to reconsider the comfort I have in my everyday life in America and Taiwan. Here is a list I sent to my family of just some of the things I learned to develop a deeper sense of appreciation for:
-washing machines (Davidson’s free laundry service is cherry on the top)
->It is a very different experience when your back begins to hurt from scrubbing your underwear clean and waiting days for it to dry.
-instant warm showers
-running water at all (I have showered out of a bucket repeatedly)
This is clearly an incomplete version of the list, but I hope it gets the message across. My father likes to get the same message across by telling a joke:
“There was a businessman who walked to work five days a week. Each time he went to work, he passed by a homeless man. A kind man he was, he gave the homeless man a dollar every time he passed him. One day while coming home from work, the businessman realized he forgot to bring cash. After hearing his apologetic explanation, the homeless man looked up at the businessman and smiled, ‘That’s okay, you just owe me a extra dollar next time.'”