“Tomorrow will be my last day in Ghana.” This thought popped into my mind at the dinner table. I have just finished the final graduation performance for the Davidson in Ghana program, which I think went pretty well. However, it was the last time I am able to sing, dance and drum with my Davidson peers in Ghana. It was the last time I am able to work with the SARD instructors, Mr. Hooper, Mubarak, Kweku and Uncle Edmond. It was the last time I am able to see a lot of wonderful friends I made in these six weeks, such as the headmistress of Ghana National College, my seamstress Ellen, my host family, and the girl selling phone credit in town. Is was the last time for many things, which made me think of the first times for everything.
I still remember the first time I landed in Ghana, the first time my skin touched the humid and warm air in Accra. I kept repeating to myself, “Oh My God. I am in Africa.”
I remember the first time seeing cedis, the Ghanaian currency. I looked at the colorful paper and tried to convert them to dollar in my mind.
I remember the first time arriving at the guest house, wondering around and checking out the place I am going to stay for the future six weeks.
It seemed like such a long time then. Damn, six weeks just flew by.
I remember the first time tearing open a sachet and thought that it is the coolest way to drink water.
I remember the first time ordering a goat kebab and completely fell in love with the powerful spice.
I remember the first time eating fufu, a traditional Ghanaian dish. I was so nervous to use my hands to eat so I washed them again and again before dipping fingers into the bowl. Oh, and our residence director Joshua, who is from Ghana, laughed ruthlessly at my fufu eating skill. Well, I tried. The soup was too hot.
I remember the first time hanging out in the lounge at the guest house, laughing, joking and playing cards with cool people that I didn’t know back in Davidson.
I remember the first time going clubbing in Ghana, we stood in a circle and nervously jammed to the Shatawale songs.
I remember the first time going to SARD class. We were 10 minutes late thanks to the awfully slow restaurant in town. The five of us nervously crammed into a small taxi and I had to sit on someone’s laps. Oh… It was not a pleasant ride.
I remember the first time laying my hand on the hard cow skin of my drum, thinking: “How am I gonna play this big thing.” And we met our instructors Mr. Hooper, Mubarak and Kweku for the first time ever. I knew I would love them from the first sight, and I wasn’t wrong.
I remember the first time going to my host family, Auntie Letisha’s house. She insisted to pop open a shandy to welcome me. I sat on the sofa drinking Shandy and turning up at 1 pm with the 77-year-old auntie, and I thought: “she is the coolest person I have ever met.”
And then I remember the first time going to work at Ghana National College. The long and steep hill leading to the school almost killed me. The headmistress led me into the fourth grade classroom and joked: “Look, I brought you obroni (white person).”
And that was the first time I met my children.
I remember the first time interacting with the students. They took turns to tell me their names, starting from the right side of the classroom: Emmanuel, Isaac, Samuel, Habiba, Phoebe, Justice, Kwame Atta, Maxwell, Vida, Rita, Ruth, Linda…. I told them to give me two weeks to remember all their names. I didn’t even believe myself when I said it, but I did it. I remembered all 34 of the children, and I will still remember them. Always.
If there is a first time for everything, there must be a last time. Am I sad to say goodbye to Ghana? Of course I am. Otherwise I wouldn’t be crying when writing this blog post. Am I going miss Ghana? Of course I will. I will miss this place soooooooo much.
I’m gonna end here. I need to grab a tissue.