Although this is my “wrap-up” blog post, it may not be my final blog entry. As I write this post, it’s crazy to think that my time in Ghana has already come and gone. I want to start off with a huge THANK YOU to everyone who supported me (financially and emotionally) on this adventure. It truly has been an amazing one. I feel very proud of the fact that I was able to become so comfortable in such a foreign environment on my own. I feel like I was able to create an impact (even if small) on the YMCA, I was able to learn a lot from my colleagues and believe that they learned a bit from me in turn. I experienced a new culture and learned about the differences and similarities relative to my own. I was able to open my eyes to a fresh perspective of the world and because of that, this has been an incredibly valuable experience. Again, thank you so much to everyone who supported me in this endeavour. Without you, none of these moments, challenges, successes and learning’s would have happened.
My last day in Accra was a whirlwind of wrapping up loose ends. I went into work very early to print and bind copies of my strategic document. In true African fashion, this wasn’t totally possible – we were out of paper and the copier wasn’t working. So I printed one copy and put it in a nice, presentable folder. I also saw a mouse (or maybe a rat) in the YMCA office!!! I realize how irrational the fear is, but I am so afraid of mice. I can only be happy that I saw it on my last day and not any earlier! I stopped by the seamstress to pick up my dresses that I had made and am very happy with them! It would have been great to have been able to wear them in Ghana but I’m hoping they will meld in with my wardrobe at home. Ghanaian material is very bright and loud and pattern-y. I tried to find subdued material but even that is pretty loud. So I’ll have to test-drive it once Canada de-thaws (hopefully soon!!).
After saying goodbye to the YMCA staff I headed into town for my de-brief with YCI. It’s a bit funny because for me, leaving feels like a big deal. But the YMCA has had so many interns come and go that I’m sure to them it’s become a bit of a pattern. My YCI debrief was over pizza with Nii (the country director) who I really like. He is very intelligent and great to talk to because he loves answering questions. And I love asking them so it is quite an easy conversation. I laughed when he brought me to the pizza place. It is the same meal YCI took me for when I first arrived. Pizza is also my all-time favourite food so it must be fate.
After the de-brief I went home to finish packing and to say goodbye to my friends at Obruni House. It’s been really cool getting to know people from all over the world and hearing what they are doing in Ghana. I also was sure to indulge for one last time in my favourite Ghanaian treats: fan ice (the delicious ice cream snack), bo fruit (the deep fried donut), bread and egg (like the name indicates – bread and egg and then fried, and red red (a bean and plantain mixture). Clearly there is a trend with what I like to eat (all very unhealthy) but don’t worry, my consumption of these items were spread over a couple of days. I also picked up some last minute mementos from a store called Global Mama’s – an NGO that promotes fair trade and sells items produced by local women using fair trade supply chains and conditions, etc. My favourite purchase was a book that has pictures of signs across Ghana. I haven’t mentioned this yet but one wonderfully quirky thing about Ghana is the signs they have all over – for businesses, restaurants, taxis, trotros, and so on. Many have some kind of religious reference and many are just hilarious sentences (think: Don’t Mind Your Wife Chop Bar). It is one of the things I really love about Ghana and if you’re at my place in the near future I will likely force you to look at this book.
Again, this has been a really amazing experience. Thank you so much to the people who supported me in making this experience possible and thank you to everyone who contributed to the journey.