My service was different. I hit the ground running. I was lucky to work with established groups, organizations, and locals. I didn’t have to wait to assess my community’s needs. It was all laid out in front of me. (In retrospect, maybe doing the assessment might have saved me some from being evacuated. Speculation though.) So while most people’s experience resembles a diminishing return curve, with a general increase in activity up until the very end, mine is turning out to be opposite. I started out busy and highly productive as the months pass by, my projects have started to wrap up. While my calendar still has penciled in trainings, my focus has changed to goals two and three. I spend more time just sitting and talking with my Ghanaian friends, enjoying their company and stories. I eat local food as often as possible, I know that at some point this year I won’t get it anymore. I often find myself drifting through the market, aimlessly stretching my legs. The smells, the feel, the frenzy, it is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced in America. I want to spend the remainder of my time loving every moment. I want to soak up the smiles, the conversations, the attitude. I can teach bookkeeping to as many people as possible and I wish that I could. I could also spend a few hours a day sitting with Vida, my best friend in Techiman, watching people pass in the market, chatting, and sharing moments together. Diplomacy isn’t just about building boreholes and increasing farmer yields. Diplomacy is sharing the American ideals: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; hard-work and tenacity; and finally, freedom.
I’m no longer having the personal revelations I had during my first year of service. I’ve had a few, but I just feel different now. I feel like the last year I spent peeling back layers of myself until I discovered the true me. What’s left now is the new and improved model. I’ve attacked my flaws face on and I feel like I’ve won. I’ve overcome obstacles and learned to cope. I’ve been trudged through the slimy stairs of Hell and found my way back to the land of the living. I’ve learned how to be a better person, employee, teammate, coworker, friend. I’m proud of who’s emerged. I can’t wait to show you the new me at the end of this year.
I love long tro rides. I can stare out the window for 8 hours and be content. I love eating with my hands. I love taking a cold bucket bath. I love early morning walks to the junction to get kenkey. I love feeling like nothing is extraordinary here anymore – it is the Ghana I know and love. I still find beauty all around me, but nothing surprises me anymore. It all seems so normal.