Dear Friends from GLA Ghana Children of Africa 2014,
I trust this letter finds you well in your next adventure, whether another year of high school wherever home is, or beginning college in a new city or state. I have really enjoyed opportunities to keep in the loop with you all over the last few months. It is truly amazing how time flies.
It feels like yesterday were getting hounded by young children as celebrities, taking strolls to our private beach, and consuming an insane amount of fanice. Regular ice cream just doesn’t have the same satisfaction of having to melt it yourself in order to be able to sip drop by sweet drop out of a torn rubber corner, does it?
I want to thank you all again for taking the leap to come to Ghana with GLA this summer, but even more so for bringing the very best of yourself with you and sharing that with the kids that you met, the at the schools where you worked, and the clinic that you painted, with the new friends you made at the home base and with the GLA staff. Thank you for giving yourself a chance to be transformed, and sowing the seeds of the most amazing people you know you can be.
I also continue to think about all of the great conversations we had, about the meaning of service, about the personal stories and sometimes judgments that we bring with us, and even about sensitive topics like religion and privilege. You all showed such respect and candor to one another that I have great faith in your toolkit of cross-cultural communication moving forward.
I want to tell you all again that I appreciate most of all the questions that you brought with you and that you continue to carry with you and explore. The unique yet informed perspectives you are forming on global issues you are forming, along with your courage to speak honestly gives me great hope for what your generation will be, and already is, capable of.
I cannot tell you how much each of you taught me this summer, and how each of you touched my heart. Keep being who you are, and who you are becoming, and you will surely change the world.
With great admiration,
…and don’t forget to dance
Don’t just relive your summer abroad. Experience GLA in a whole new way next summer, in a country you’ve never been to before. Then check out Alec’s favorite memories below, and mentor Laura’s letter to her students from this summer.
Alec’s Favorite Memories:
- Incredible open mics and musical jams (Tres’ knocking us all out with his rendition from Man of la Mancha)
- Students pulling together on our second to last day to finish a beautiful painting job of the local clinic
- Playing theater games and having rich discussion after a local people demonstrating against the construction of a mega-resort on the island where we stopped to visit.
- Feeling the immense magic of Wli falls and watching everyone’s face light up in its presence
- Seeing Reda give one of the best elementary school lessons I have ever seen, with every first-grader in his class sitting at their desks, completely engaged in an interactive lesson teaching not only the names of the colors but how to spell them.
- Epic soccer matches with Ghanaian youth at the beach
- Writer’s circles in the lounge, and poem’s shared at open mic.
It’s crazy to think that it’s already October. How did summer disappear so quickly? It seems like yesterday I was sitting on our sweet little beach in Anloga, resting after a game of sand soccer and surrounded by neighborhood children. As we settle back into our normal lives, we can take a second to reflect on the amazing time we shared together in Anloga. Can you believe that just a couple months ago, we were standing under the tallest waterfall in West Africa? I can still smell Mercy’s Red Red from the kitchen and hear the laughter of those wonderful kids at our schools.
Almost daily, I am asked to describe my summer with all of you. I’ve decided that there’s no one word that could give our summer justice. It was epic, challenging, beautiful, inspiring, and memorable, just to name a few. How do you describe dance brick-making parties, starstruck talent shows, and bumpy tro-tro rides? What words describe the feeling of swimming in a lagoon, teaching math to rowdy primary schoolchildren, and feeding monkeys in the thick jungles of Ho? Every day was different, filled to the brim with smiling faces and new memories. I love the thought that there is a whole bunch of you, spread across our big, beautiful world, who share these memories with me and know exactly what our summer in Anloga was like.
I smile with pride when I think of the amazing work you did this summer. Waking up each morning, untangling ourselves out of those green mosquito nets, and heading off to make bricks under that hot West African sun took passion, courage, and something special that each one of you brought. It was such an amazing feeling to see those bricks being used at the end of the summer to build classrooms. You helped make those bricks and that’s incredible. Your commitment and ambition left a legacy at those schools – if the tears shared with your students at the end of the session weren’t already an indicator, you will not be soon forgotten. Thanks for being so consistently passionate in helping those schools; I feel grateful to have worked with such inspiring individuals.
I hope everyone is settling into this school year successfully. Maybe one day we can share a Fan Ice once again, laughing about all the things that happened in Anloga. Keep inspiring those around you and hold your memories of Ghana close, knowing that there’s a big, loving community in Ghana and around the world that misses you and thinks you’re awesome. Thanks for being so great and hanging out with me this summer.
One time overseas is never enough. Experience GLA in a whole new way this coming summer, or revisit your favorite places from last year and check out their progress. Then read Laura’s summer highlights below, and mentor Kate’s new letter to her group from this summer.
- Fan Ice. One a day is never enough. Also Eric the Fan Ice guy! (Cough, Alyssa, cough).
- Our awesome local staff. Stephen Humble Tiger Amulu, Princess, Selasie and Emefa, and Dodzi. And Jerry of course.
- The awesome acts at both the open mic and the talent show! Poems, dancing, singing, and Michael Jackson.
- Bonfires on the beach!
- Epic dance parties, especially Team Shockwave’s dance parties while making bricks.
- Standing under the Wli waterfall.
- Linda’s awesome dance circle, Tres’s camp song sing-a-longs, Riad’s Armani soccer strut, and Reda’s MC moments.
- Singing Disney songs in the tro-tro.
- The protest on the fishing island during the river tour.
- Photo shoot on the boat with Shene. Mentor babes for life!
- Epic talks about leadership, change, service, and our role in the world.
- Anytime anyone ever had a birthday – especially Alec, Will, and Stephen (heheheh).
Hi GLA friends!
I can’t believe it’s already been two and a half months since we were last together in Ghana! I think of you all anytime I look at my black yarn bracelet or my Krobo beads. I love to wear the beads because people ask me about them and I get to tell them all about my favorite people and our adventures in Ghana.
I’ve been thinking about our little family and the connections we made in our home in Odumase. Do you remember how awkward everyone was the first night? I struggled to bring everyone out of their shell and to start interacting. Three weeks later, you all wouldn’t stop talking as you gathered in the living room every evening to play cards or “What are the chances?” I still cannot get that image of Audrey with peanut butter eyes out of my head.
I’m so proud of you all for all the work that you did at Mancona International School. Not only did you build a ton of blocks, but you built amazing relationships with the school and with your students. Do you remember how happy they were every day when we arrived at the school? They stuck their little hands out of the window holes in the wall to wave hello. With little direction, you were placed in front of a class of 40 students and told to teach. It was amazing to watch you all learn and adapt so quickly. You found ways to teach the kids so they actually understood the lesson, beyond just memorizing the information. I hope that we can keep in touch with Mancona and that one day, we’ll go back to visit the students and see their new library/IT center.
I hope you all enjoyed the rest of your summer and I hope our time in Ghana has inspired you to continue serving others this year. You are all so talented and ambitious; I can’t wait to hear about all of the amazing things you’re doing. Keep in touch!
Here are some of Kate’s Favorite Recollections:
- Krobo naming ceremony and everyone in the community asking for our Krobo names
- Going to a “bead market” with just 5 stalls, but spending an hour there anyway
- Talking about the “Single Story” of Africa
- Drinking sachets of water and making friendship bracelets in the living room
- Driving around in the van and waving at our neighbors in town on our way home from school
- Hiking to the top of the mountain and seeing Boti Falls
- Learning about Dipo from Henry’s aunt
- Meeting a 107-year old women for Livie’s birthday
- The last week at Mancona, with the art contests and the class photos