I grew up in warm, sunny Los Angeles, California and now attend school in rainy Portland, Oregon. I am a third year student at Lewis & Clark College where I am majoring in Anthropology/ Sociology and minoring in Ethnic Studies. I am the president of Lewis & Clark's Hillel, the Jewish club on campus and am a mentor for incoming freshmen.
During the summer of 2008, I finally fulfilled my dream of traveling to Africa to volunteer. I traveled to Ghana, West Africa with no expectations and left with a new outlook on life and a second family and community. While in Ghana, I taught at an orphanage and made life long connections with the local people. This was the most rewarding experience of my life and after spending eight weeks in Ghana, I was not ready to leave. I called my mother and told her I wasn’t coming home.
My mother told me that I needed to come home and finish school and then I could do what I wanted with my life. I continued to stay in touch with my new friends and family in Ghana and hosted a fundraiser a few months after returning home in order to raise funds for the orphanage. I shared my experiences and photos with my friends and family back home and shared my love of Ghana and the Ghanaian people with them.
I returned to school and worked hard to ensure that I would be able to return to Ghana. And, of course, I scheduled my next trip to Ghana. I flew out of LAX a week after school ended in mid May and spent over three months in Ghana. I was welcomed with open hearts and outstretched arms and couldn’t have been happier.
I departed Ghana at the end of August and traveled to Nairobi, Kenya where my sister and I traveled around for a week and a half before I started my Lewis & Clark East Africa study abroad program. I met my professor and 22 other students from my school at the beginning of September and we immediately jumped into classes. We studied Swahili, Biology, History of East Africa and completed an Independent Study project. These three months in Kenya and Tanzania included three weeks of safari, a week of snorkeling, volunteering in an orphanage, and traveling all over both of these countries.
Our program ended at the beginning of December. Unlike most of the other students who returned home or flew to Europe to do some traveling, I traveled back to Ghana. My arrival was eagerly anticipated and I was so happy to be back. The three weeks flew by and at the end of December, after celebrating Christmas in Ghana with the children at the orphanage, I returned home to Los Angeles.
That first summer when I traveled to Ghana ultimately changed my life. That trip made me look at everything in a new light and taught me how much I have that I take for granted. It made me realize the simple things in life and I came to appreciate the African way of life where things are not so rushed like they always are in America. I realized how happy I was in Africa and how much I had to offer to others and how much they had to offer to me. I learned that I could make a difference and help others and came to realize how much my time, energy, and love was appreciated and used to create change. I found my calling and I know that I will end up in Ghana after I graduate from college in May 2011. I would love to work for a non-profit organization or a NGO when I move to Ghana but I have yet to find the right one. If you have any ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear them!