Farewell for now to you my friends.
Goodbyes are always bittersweet- bitter in the fact that I have to depart from my dear friends. I love my Tafi Atome family very much and leaving them was by no means an easy thing to do. Do not be surprised when I tell you that I cried a lot- and not in a pretty womanly way (it was definitely a sight to NOT see). But, It was sweet because it made me SO thankful for the 9 weeks I got to spend with a community I love so much. Even though it hurt so much to say goodbye, all the days I spent in Tafi Atome were completely worth the ending heartache.
The once a week travels to the Internet cafe (2 hour van ride) was probably not my most fondest memories of this summer. Not going to lie, I think it is safe to say that internet causes headaches. If it wasn’t for my non-profit internship, I would of been web free and surely a happy camper! Anyways, the reason why I brought up my dislike for the internet is because there was one great thing that came out of those weekly 2 hour van rides. One weekend, I received an email from my mother saying, “I know it is going to be difficult saying your goodbyes. I will pray that you can find strength and guidance to be able to walk away with smiles of joy and not tears of defeat”. That was the exact thing I needed to hear.
We all know the perception of someone going abroad to do volunteer work in a 3rd world country- they always come back with a new mindset and an experience that (without a doubt) changes their life forever. Sure I can agree with that, I mean this was my third time in Africa- obviously my time spent over here is somewhat meaningful. But, I do have to expand on that perception many people hold. First off, mindsets do change after volunteering abroad because of the people they meet. My friends in Tafi Atome, Ghana are much different than my friends in America (love them both equally)- but I do love it over on this other side of the world. There is a sense of peace and kindness that surrounds each person you interact with. The fact that my kindergarten class can cry laughing when I do the chicken dance says a lot about the joy in their life. Joy is not hard to find over here, it is actually very simple. So secondly, going to a 3rd world country (speaking only for myself) is selfish. Yes I admitted it. The truth is that the people I meet teach me more than I could ever learn in a lecture hall. Not trying to get all sappy, but all my new friends abroad remind me of my mother- which makes perfect sense on why I desire to come back every summer. To meet people with a heart wanting to serve those who come to serve them, and those who have smiles that speak volumes more than their words ever could- is worth traveling for. I go every summer with the intention to love as hard as I can, but I leave feeling more loved than I ever have before.
It’s the mindset that is different over here, I recommend you to travel and see for yourself. Go anywhere, see things you have never seen before, meet people who will welcome you into their home (whether it is a mud house or a mansion) and hear their life story- I promise, it will change you.