Hello everyone! Ashley here! Como estan? How are you all?
I. AM. BACK. HOME.
Oh Lord, I am so back, and so glad to be home! But before getting to this week of coming back home, I still have last week to update you on!
The last week of my time abroad was, as you can imagine, very emotional. It was a time of saying thank you’s and see-you-later’s to the people that I’ve built wonderful relationships with.
Throughout this week of saying our goodbyes, I was working really hard to prepare for our final presentations! Every year, SSSA participants create a presentation for their internship supervisors, their other cohort members, their SSSA mentors Nia and Brittni, and others from the community. This year, for my final presentation, I decided to perform a spoken word piece.
My poem was called “My Many Answers for You,” where I shared some of my reflections from my time in Ghana. In the poem, I thought critically about how to best answer the question “How was Ghana?” (to those who will ask when I get home) in a way that is truthful and honoring to the people I’ve met and the places I’ve visited. I recognized that for a lot of folks, my experiences will represent for them all of Ghana, all of Africa even. My hope is, however, to show that my experiences were very much valid and honest, but never the full truth of Kasoa or Accra, Ghana, and definitely not of Africa.
Here is the beginning of the poem!
So Ash, how did it go?
I imagine the words are already in formation on your tongue,
Waiting to launch at the sight of me.
I imagine after the o in “go”
that the 10-minute count-down will begin.
You’ll be giving me a paint brush, you know.
My story the brush, my words the paint, your mind the canvas, empty of narratives and preconceived notions or not.
Will I use these precious ten minutes
To chip away at the not-trues, the way-offs, the half-truths of Africa? Ghana? Kasoa?
Or will I use this brush to paint that familiar story?
Will I color in between the colonizer’s lines,
or follow the rules of some?
Will my pallet hold similar colors,
different colors, pastel colors, electric ones?
Which story, real story, short story, real short story will I paint for you?
How could I possibly answer your question… well?
After our presentations, we were all presented with gifts from our supervisors, said bye to the hotel staff who have cared for us so well over the 5 weeks we were in Kasoa, and headed off to our final destination, a resort in Kokrobite.
Before leaving to Kokrobite
Kokrobrite was BEAUTIFUL and lovely and wonderful in all of its ways. We settled in, had a few photo shoots at the beach haha, had dinner together, and went to bed.
The next day, I got up early in the morning and headed to the beach, where I got to spend some time reflecting more on the beauty of my experience. It happened, and I grew and learned so much more than I could ever from reading about Ghana in a textbook in the states. At 9, the team and I had breakfast and met our mentors, Nia and Brittni, and Nia’s mother, who is a professional storyteller. (Nia is one of SSSA’s program directors. Her family came and traveled with us to Kokrobrite because she is getting married in a few days in Ghana. AH!) Anyway, her mother was absolutely AMAZING. She shared with us a few of her favorite stories, using not only her voice, but her body, her spirit. I want to be like her in that way.
Afterward, we all gathered together and shared notes of appreciation to each other. We went around a circle so that each person would receive a word of appreciation from every member of the group. When that ended, we got to play some Kpanlogo drums (pan-logo) and practice some Ghanaian dances! It was so much fun and a really awesome way to spend our last day in Ghana.
On our final day, I left my hotel at 2 in the morning and boarded at 5:30am. I reached Casablanca, Morocco at around 10 in the morning, or 11 in Accra, and spent four hours exploring and walking around the airport. Oh goodness, I had a chicken sandwich at 11 am in Morocco (12 pm in Acca) knowing that I definitely should have been preparing my body for Eastern Standard time. It was 7am in New York. Imagine having a full chicken sandwich with fries at 7 in the morning…
On both my flights, from Accra to Casablanca, Morocco, and Casablanca to NYC, I was blessed to have made some more awesome friends! We got to talk a lot about life, update each other on our trips and where we are headed, and spent a lot of time discussing faith. On my second flight, Tundae, who became a good friend, was heading from Nigeria to his last stop in Kansas, where he will be pursuing his masters in Geology. On the flight, I learned ALL about the rock cycle and tectonic plates, lol. Awesome isn’t even the word.
Some views from the flight!
By 9pm local time, I was finally home in the arms of the people that have my heart. They were all so happy to see me, and I slept that night thinking about how amazing this summer has been. It truly was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had, and in many ways shaped me.
So there you have it amor, my final update. Thank you for walking with me. Are you down to come with me on my next adventures?