Looking Forward

Written by Bridget Irwin and Theodore Hannah, 2015 Ghana: Global Health

We can’t think of a better spot to reflect on the past six weeks in Ghana than this centuries-old castle overlooking the ocean in princess town, where we have gathered for the final days of the program.

The last few weeks were spent travelling not as a group, as we had become accustomed to, but in twos, threes, or even ones, as we explored the country on our own during ITT (Independent Travel Time). Some used the time to return to past volunteer placements, hoping to make as much of an impact as possible during our short time here. Others took the opportunity to explore independent research projects while still more attempted to squeeze in as many of Ghana’s attractions as possible in an effort to experience everything the country has to offer.

Reunited (and it feels so good)

As we write these words we have only just been reunited as a group and the air is one of excitement. We are sharing stories and photos and debating who went the most days without showering (Rachel, Noelle, and Emma), who had the most horrific travel experience (Chelsey), who went the longest without speaking (Theo), who bought the coolest shoes (Jennifer), who outran a baboon fastest (Julia), who led the group to a fermenting bus ride (Hugh), and who went the longest without food and water (Bridget and Alanna).

Lurking beneath the excitement, however, there is an air of sadness. Princesstown marks the end of the program and thus the end of our time together. If the ten days we spent apart during ITT seemed difficult, the idea that we will soon be scattered far and wide across North America is simply unfathomable. For somehow, in between tours and trotro rides and impromptu talent shows, twelve strangers became best friends.

They say what you do in life isn’t nearly as important as who you do it with, and this trip was a perfect example of that. Yes we learned a lot during our placements, tours, and lectures – about Ghana, about health, about ourselves even – but the deeper lessons were learned from each other. How to find the humour in even the most horrible of situations; how to communicate with others with different backgrounds, values, or beliefs; how to share everything, from beds to books to bowls of food; the list goes on and on. Looking back, we don’t think any of us could have asked for a more supportive, positive, or enthusiastic group of people to share this experience with and it is comforting to know that, no matter how far apart we are, we will always share this bond.

For some of us the past six weeks may represent the only time we spend in Ghana, or in Africa as a whole, while for others this trip marks only the beginning. Regardless, as we progress into the next phases of our lives, to graduate school and the workforce and beyond, we are certain that this country, the experiences we’ve had here, and the friends that we’ve made will remain a part of us forever. I know that each and every one of us will take all that we have learned and use it to better the world. I, for one, can’t wait to watch it happen.

Here’s to the Ghana Global Health group of 2015. Thanks for being awesome.

Ghana Global Health 2015