What a year. Not much really happened over the course of twelve months here. I packed up my life into a ten foot by ten foot cube in Massachusetts, I said goodbye to a bunch of friends far and wide, visited my family one more time before the great bon voyage, and moved to Africa. Par for the course, really.
Some of the moments that stand out for me this year.
Saying bye (but only for the time being) to Damla by moving her and all of her worldly possessions to Michigan, East Lansing to be precise. It proved to be a long drive and only a temporary move for her, but it was a morose time for both of us. Just before that happened though we got the news that I would be arriving in Ghana by June, so there were ups and downs to be had everywhere. Another of the ups was her receiving a PhD which deserves another congratulations from me – Congrats Damla!
The spring was spent getting things in order for the move out of the western Massachusetts region and visiting friends around the area. A trip to Rochester was made to see the Vedders and relax a bit with all of my good friends still in the city. That of course meant a poker night where (if my failing memory serves me right) Kara did fairly well.
As May approached I made a trip down to see the family. Mark's birthday was a great excuse to see everyone again and have a great time. I even visited a friend from MA the day the Flyers came back from being down three to nothing (in the series and in that final game) to win. Mom and I listened to the final goal scored on the radio and we celebrated as best as we could driving home at nightfall. A very fun time indeed.
But with the happy times come some sad times. I was elated to make it to Philadelphia to meet all of my fellow volunteers from so many different places in the United States and just filled with eager anticipation that it took me by surprise to feel so sad saying goodbye to Mom. I still remember the call we made that final day I was there in Philly. I sat in the dining room all by myself using the computer to make a call to her and we cried a bit about the impending departure. We managed to compose ourselves though and aside from the first two or three weeks, we have been in touch just as regularly as when I was only a few hundred miles away, so things have worked out nicely.
Landing in Ghana was a tremendous thrill. The rains coming down as we descended the steps from the plane onto the tarmac and making our way to the terminal was exhilarating. I was realizing that this was all happening, and that we all had made it through this long process of becoming a volunteer in the Peace Corps. A bus ride here, a bus ride there, and we all just looked out the windows to see what our new country looked like. I still recall a distinct feeling of culture shock seeing small houses with tin roofs, metal boxes housing businesses, and little boys and girls walking around with machetes.
When things settled down there was that thing called training that we had to make it through. I honestly believe what we were told is true: “If you can make it through training, you will be fine.” This was so far removed from basic training in the military it would be comical to compare it to that, yet there we were griping and sulking in lesson after lesson preparing us for our jobs. After two months with basically Sunday off, it came time to swear in. I felt especially proud to join the ranks of thousands of others who put normalcy on hold and hopped into an adventure. I called my mom right after we were officially named volunteers and told her the good news. After a little over two years, my little dream came true.
I found out that I had a great campus to stay at, wonderful people working along side of me, and students who were very eager to get started learning what communications and computers were all about. The lessons have been rewarding so far, and that is not limited to the lessons that I have to teach. It means things that people have taught me about culture, family, and being kind. Even after many months of being here and absorbing what it means to be Ghanaian, I am always impressed with the giving nature of all the people that I meet.
My hope is to continue doing the things that keep me happy. On the whole, 2010 proved to be incredibly positive with only short moments of melancholy. I feel incredibly fortunate to have them all, and to try to share them as best I can with you out there on the web.
We can only try our best to make 2011 just as fine.