I wanted to put together a list of things I have learned so far. Yesterday was my 6 months at site anniversary. I’ve been in Ghana for almost 9 months. It is really incredible to think about that. Time goes by too quickly. I wish I could freeze now and keep it forever. I have been incredibly busy lately (actually for the last 9 months to be honest). I wanted to take a minute to reflect on these past months. I feel like I have grown as a person. I’m so glad I have friends here in Ghana and in the states to share this experience with. So here it goes, my collection of lessons learned, self-discoveries, and little tidbits of awesome.
1. I hate children. Yeah.
2. I can either have all the patience in the world or absolutely none based on the time of day. Noon? None. Morning or Night? What’s with some waiting? Oh and based on my proximity to sour gummi worms.
3. Africa is GIGANTIC. No really.
4. Bad roads and overloaded semis are why travelling takes so much time.
5. Roosters are evil possessed demons and should be eaten at every opportunity.
6. Cheese makes the world go round.
7. Good food improves quality of life immeasurably.
8. You can bathe with less than half a bucket of water and be ridiculously clean.
9. If you are going to be in the Peace Corps you HAVE to have initiative. Lazy asses need not apply.
10. I didn’t want or plan on saving the world, but I guess that’s what I’m doing
11. 75 degrees with a breeze is code for put on all the layers you have, wrap up in cloth and shiver in your room.
12. Getting clothes made at the tailor is more exciting than the best TV show or movie.
13. Eating food with your fingers tastes better than with utensils. (I have tested this for the past 6 months.)
14. Material things like designer clothes, cars, and iPads are completely useless. All you need is what you have to be happy. And hell even less than that.
15. I have met some of the most amazing people in the world and now I get to call them friends. And that is truly life-changing.
16. Crying is a part of Peace Corps life. Sometimes it just sneaks up on you for no reason.
17. I have a lot of work to do within myself to make myself a better person.
18. Sometimes people just understand you. Sometimes people can look into your soul and help you find yourself. And those people will have a special place in your heart forever.
19. Communication is key. When communication fails, everything fails. Learn to communicate effectively and teach others. The world will be a better place. Maybe world peace is simply effective communication.
20. Two meals a day is all you really need. Sometimes less than that.
21. Trying new foods sometimes yields bad results, but sometimes you discover a new favorite food. I’m looking at you bankou and groundnut soup.
22. Speaking in the local language is the easiest way to make local friends.
23. You discover a lot about yourself when you are sick. I’m much more resilient and tolerant than I knew I was.
24. Mosquito nets are HOT!
25. Integration is more than just knowing people in your community, eating their food, and speaking the language. Integration is getting off a tro and running to your favorite local chop shop because you missed the food and people there. Integration is coming back to your compound and sitting with the family for hours just chatting until the stars come out. Integration is leaving site for a while and when you come back everyone notices and asks you why you were gone for so long. Integration is getting off the tro in your town and feeling like the world is hugging you because you are home.
26. Silence is one of my new favorite things. It is so rare here, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night just so I can enjoy the silence.
27. I have to be busy to be happy.
28. I hate haggling.
29. What you do in this world matters.
30. Happiness can be found when you are doing something you love. Something that is meaningful to you.
31. Cashews are the greatest nut on earth. Back off walnuts.
32. I blame missionaries for the spread of HIV in Ghana and intolerance.
33. You can help the lowest denominator. You can make a difference. You have to make an effort and truly care.
34. Electricity and running water are some of life’s greatest luxuries.
I’ll leave you with a poem:
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call to-day his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
To-morrow, do thy worst, for I have lived to-day.
Imitation of Horace, Bk. I. Ode29. J. DRYDEN.