This trip to Ghana is my first journey outside of the United States of America. In all my years of living, I have experienced the same American culture and believed it to be the standard worldwide. Fortunately, I was wrong. As soon as I stepped off the plane at Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana I knew that everything I used to “know” no longer mattered. The world I now existed in was anew.
After being fully immersed in a culture for a couple weeks I started to notice a few things about my new home. One of the main things that caught my attention was the repetition and prevelance of the Ghanaian culture itself. I am used to viewing this culture through a scope that allows me to pick and choose when I would like to partake in it whether it be an article, documentary, or a lecture. Everything that I took in was temporary and voluntary. When I am here I have no choice but to experience the culture every second of the day. Everything from the songs on the cab radio to the animals on the street remind me that I am no longer an outsider looking in. At first this fact was quite overwhelming for me. I resented the culture and wanted no part of it. I often attempted to create temporary escapes from it, yet there was always something ( most likely a power outage or mosquito bite) to remind me that there was no escape.
This brings me to my second point which is the Ghanaians themselves. My first impression of them was that they were the kindest and warmest people I have encountered in a long time. Each and every one of them has a smiling face and warm embrace waiting for you. However, since Ghana is a developing country, I constantly found myself “fixing” what I thought were flaws in the way these people lived. The leisurely attitude, their english dialect, and inability to relate to my social cues all struck me as problems that needed to be altered and my job was to inform and educate in the right way. The American way.
After spending some more time with the people of Ghana and being so deep into the culture I can definitely say I have had change of heart. The biggest lesson I have learned is that just because things are different doesn’t make them wrong. Despite all the things that I viewed as flaws these people are still happy to be Ghanaian and it is not my place to attempt to refute that. These people are a beautiful people that have shown me that the world is place of unique identities and diverse groups of people. Each group goes about living in a different way, yet its the experience of living that we all share that bonds us. I could not have learned that from a article, documentary, or a lecture. I guess you could say I was asleep to reality for a long time and now because of Ghana I am awake.