In a little over a month and a half I will be on my way to Ghana, where I will be studying for the fall semester. I am currently preparing myself for what promises to be a life-changing time in my life.
I once heard somebody compare preparing for a new experience of life like approaching a door you have never passed through before. We often know some reasoning behind why we are walking toward this door, though perhaps not every reason. Sometimes the door is open and we can see a little bit of the room in which we will soon be entering, but we can never see the whole room. Sometimes the door is closed and we can only read the sign on the door indicating in one word what is behind the door. I am approaching the door leading to my seventh semester in college. The sign on the door says “Ghana”. I can read all I can about what Ghana is like, but until I open that door and experience what is behind it I will not know for sure what waits for me in the room.
The other students and I were recently asked to think about some personal goals and expectations of our time in Ghana. Here are a few of my goals and expectations for this upcoming adventure.
As with every season and new experience in my life I want to grow spiritually. I want to get in the habit of daily Scripture readings, devotions, and meditations. Through these times I want to put effort into memorizing Scripture. This is an area of my life I have always wanted to improve. My goal is to use this time away from the normal distractions of life and focus on creating a space in each and every day to devote to myself, my Bible, and my God. I also want to practice obedience. Through dedication to devotions and Scripture I want to improve my ability to hear God speak. I want to hear God speak to me through the environment and creation of the world around me. I want to hear God speak through the people divinely placed in my life. I want to live with an ever present feeling of the Holy Spirit who lives in me and through me. I want to be able to pour out my life onto other people.
I want to learn about the history, plight, and future of Ghana, West Africa, and Africa. While going through the thought process of deciding to participate in the Ghana Semester I found a love and wonder toward Africa. I wasn’t acutely aware of this wonder until I began filling out the application. I have always chosen to read, study, or research topics referring to Africa when given the chance. During this upcoming semester I want to nurture this wonder.
I am participating in this semester as a Senior. My college life is quickly coming to an end. My future is not something I’m overly stressed about, but I do think about it. I hope to use my time in Ghana to contemplate what I really want to do. I want to take advantage of being away from the distractions I face while being on campus at Calvin. I want to be able to use what I experience in Ghana and apply it to my life now and into the future.
My expectations of Ghana are few. All along this process of preparing for Ghana I have been told to not carry a lot of expectations. But nevertheless I have a few expectations. I expect the city of Accra to be remarkably similar to cities in the United States. I expect that we will not see the typical perhaps naive/ movie/ media image of Africa right away. I expect in the first few days we will be surprised about what we see and how similar to our area of living it actually is.
However what we see and what we experience are often different. Sight is only one of our senses. We experience reality through all five senses. People will act differently. Food will taste different. Our initial smells may be unrecognizable. The whole place will feel different. How these things will be different, I do not know. I’m not sure I want to put thought into guessing. I am just looking forward to experiencing and celebrating the differences.
I am interested and hope to learn about how life works in Ghana. How is it different than how my life works in the United States? I want to evaluate this in a holistic perspective. How does religion and faith fit into life in Ghana? How are families handled and nurtured in Ghana? How do people earn money? How do the youth of Ghana think about the future? What are some commonly held goals for the people of Ghana? These are things I want to learn. Of course these questions also involve insights from the history of Ghana. So I want to learn about the history of Ghana and how it affects the future.