Sunday, June 14, 2009


So, I've noticed since I've been back that there's a certain flow to the conversations I have with people when they find out that I went to Ghana...

"How was it?"

Me "Amazing. Different." --These are the words I use most, because what else is there? The trip was not what you would call "fun". Although we did have a great time (and we had a lot of laughs), we weren't there to do the usual camera around the neck, socks and sandals, sight-seeing Western traveler thing. We were there to learn, to help where we could, and to find our niche of where we can help in the future.

This is when I decide whether the person actually wants to know what it's like in a developing country and what we did there or if they're just asking out of courtesy. Do I tell them about working with street children and passing the people begging for alms on the side of the road on scooter boards because the can't afford a wheelchair? Do I tell them about some of the practices they have for children born with a disability? Do I bring up the fact that preventable diseases such as polio, malaria, and AIDS run rampant and kill and cripple people daily and the individuals we interacted with who are affected by these diseases? Do I talk about the schools we visited and the lack of materials we take for granted? Do I discuss Ghana's Disability Bill and how far they have to go to reach a level of acceptance of people with disabilities? Or, do I tell them about the canopy walk in the rain forest and how beautiful the beach is?

After avoiding making people uncomfortable the first few times I was asked about my experience, I stopped. The issues need to be addressed and now 9 times out of 10, I do talk about the actual experiences we had and the issues Ghanaians and others in developing countries face. I have come to find that these are the issues that people love to talk about fixing, but when it comes to the awkward conversation about what is actually going on the conversation is avoided. Not anymore.--

"Wow. --the general response, regardless of whether I choose one of the first topics of conversation or the last, much more pleasant topic-- Would you go back?"

Me "Yes, in a heartbeat."

No comments:

Post a Comment