Ghanaian Adventures

Heading Home to Ghana and Learning to Let Go

Written by Kevin Kempe, 2014 West Africa Grassroots Education Program Leader

Home, for me, isn’t so much a fixed location as it is something inside me that’s tied to a place. In this sense, I first identified home as being in Rwanda. It was a place where I was first comfortable with myself, completely aware and consumed by culture and language, and able to sit back and realize the individual and collective potential that I possessed as a member of the global community. This sense of home has since followed me around, kept deep in my heart, to all the different places I have traveled to.

When I first arrived in Ghana to work as an intern researching food security in Sandema, those same feelings didn’t immediately emerge. I didn’t allow myself to feel the motions of the people, to indulge in the blessings of the sun and the joys of the winds through the maize fields as I lay down to bed. I remained in my own bubble.

But the sense of community I felt in Sandema soon overtook those initial feelings and overwhelmed me. The people who made my everyday life possible made no one day like any other. It was there that I came to understand the unimportance of a physical location and instead turn to my peers, colleagues, teachers, friends, and strangers to create a family that would be the foundation for a home.

Kevin Kempe in Ghana
The sense of freedom I felt living there, paired with the open arms of Ghanaian culture, meant that I could embrace the fact that I was not just an intern, but a coworker and an equal; not just a houseguest, but a brother and a friend; not just another customer, but a new chance for conversation and understanding. These are the experiences that, once internalized, created within me the power to change the outcome of each of my expectations and experiences to be in favor of positivity. These moments are the ones that I finally realized contain the learning and development that I had sought out in traveling to Ghana in the first place. The people and culture that created and continue to create those moments are the reason that I have chosen to return to a home I found in Ghana.

Whether using art for community development with the Attukwei Art Foundation in Accra or strengthening the bonds of Horizon Children’s Centre in Sandema with the ever-growing Operation Groundswell family, this year’s West Africa Grassroots Education program will find a home and a heart for all of our teams in Ghana. Together, we’ll all grow as students, as leaders and as travelers — all while revelling in our own unique characteristics. With our diverse team, we’ll discover and uncover the multitude of characteristics that make a person an adventurer, a leader, a friend, a colleague and yup, a backpacktivist!


Find your home this summer and apply for our West Africa Grassroots Education program today!