Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Who You Wit? Me and My People at da Ratbug Hotel


by Mackenzie Miller,
in Accra, Ghana

“I need to stop being so nervous about what everyone thinks of me. I just get so horrified in social situations. That’s probably the main thing I want to gain from this. Confidence. Confidence in my personality. And stepping out of my comfort zone – which is the size of a thimble.”

That’s what I wrote on December 13th in my first journal entry as I sat on my flight, beginning my journey to Ghana. While I assumed I would make a few friends, never did I ever expect to have the group dynamic that we have gained on this trip. And never did I ever expect that as I embark on my last full day here in Accra, I would begin to miss 18 people that I met a mere month ago.

There are so many reasons that I have genuinely loved this trip. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had my fair share of complaints. But of all the aspects of this study abroad experience that I have thoroughly enjoyed, I have to say that the group of us from Ohio University is my favorite.

They are what I will remember most about Ghana.

As an individual who just simply does not make friends easily – I prefer hanging out with basically all the same people all of the time – I have nothing but 100% satisfaction for this excursion. My biggest fears coming into this were missing out on what my friends were doing back in…Ohio. Like, what?

I’ve been granted the opportunity to go to Africa and I’m worried about what I’ll be missing back in OHIO?

But my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out…obviously) vanished almost instantly as I arrived in Accra. Sitting by the pool on the very first night, after our first “Ghanaian” group dinner of KFC.

December 16th: “I know it sounds cheesy, but I really think I’m making friends and it feels amazing. I know it is only day 2, but so quickly I feel like we’ve clicked and we just have a blast together. I’ve never been so open and comfortable around new people. I really am loving it.”

 That was after our welcome dinner outside at like…the world’s most beautiful hotel. That was also the last time I’ve written in my journal. Not because I’ve had nothing to say, but because from that point on I’ve felt that there were people I could say anything to.

Reiterating the fact that there have been so, SO many things I loved about this trip, I chose to wait to write this blog to ensure I covered the perfect topic. I assumed I would write about my AMAZING experiences at Weep Not Child – the orphanage I had the opportunity to work at. Or the phenomenal time we had at Cape Coast and the Elmina and Cape Coast Castles. Or even something of actual educational content.

But as I sat here contemplating my topic, I looked back at the past 24 days: reviewing each and every thing that we’ve done, the good and the bad. The conclusion I came to be was that all of my amazing experiences were because of the people I was surrounded by.

As the African proverb says, “One cannot wrap his arms around the baobab tree.” We needed each other to get through this. Each and every single person brought something so specific and so special to the table. Our group would not be complete if someone was missing (as noted on the days in which people were dying at the hotel). I needed everyone to be here for my experience to be what it was.

From our inside jokes about the Ratbug Hotel, to our songs about malaria and even our hot, leaky bus rides. The negatives of this journey were turned to positives because; well…we’re all just kind of awesome. It made the days at the beaches brighter, the birthdays we celebrated drunker, and the holidays we missed at home, homier.

It gave me the main thing I wanted to gain out of this trip. And so much more.

No comments: