by Kaylynn Purdy, Grade 12
They say that once you go to Africa, you are changed forever. I completely agree.
This spring break I had the opportunity to discover life in the African country of Ghana. I can honestly say that it was the best experience of my life. I changed in so many ways that I am still unsure how to express it with words.
I could tell you all of the things that we did while we were there, what life is like in Ghana, and about all of the things I experienced, but I won’t. The one thing that I realize during my time in Ghana, is that you can’t understand what Africa is like until you go there. I could write a 5000-word essay describing life in Africa, but I would never be able to fully express and capture the truth about what Africa is like.
We stayed in a small village in the eastern costal area (the Volta Region) in a village called Atorkor. While we were there, we created a library from the 1500 books that were donated by a group of people in Tennessee. We ran out of shelves by about day four…and by the last week, I started to hate books. Yet, at the end of the day when the school let out, kids would swarm into the library to read and sign-out books. It made emptying and sorting through every book and cockroach-filled box worthwhile. To the kids in Atorkor, a library is something that they have never had; they have never seen a room full of books before. When I tell people that I worked in a library my entire spring break, to them it doesn’t seem like I really did a lot, but they weren’t there to see sixteen-year-old kids get excited about picture books.
Like I said before, Africa is not a place that you talk about, rather it is a place that you go to discover something about the world and about yourself. Seeing a kid become so excited about a book, about being able to play with a real soccer ball or seeing a picture of themselves is something you don’t see in Canada. In Ghana, they don’t take anything for granted, they appreciate the little things, they work together and they seem to always have a permanent and sincere smile spread across their faces.
I hope that one day I will be able to return to Africa because it is in my blood for life. Ghana has become a part of who I am, and I will never forget the experience that I had during March break of 2010.