Ok, so this final blog is actually coming to you from the United States. Yes indeed, the end of the most challenging experience of my short life has finally come. As I knew I would, I completely fell off with my blogs towards the final weeks of my time in Ghana. Because of exhaustion? Because the difficulty I was having in realizing I was leaving? Or because I simply could not find the words to share my emotions with you?
So before I get into the emotions allow me to just give you a run through of the events and occasions that took place during my final weeks.
Saying goodbye to people in Ghana is a long process.(At least for me it was.) I suppose it was my own fault for mentioning to people how little time I had left. Once that was said it was usually followed by the following suggestive statements: “I know that you will remember me when you go to your country.”, “What are you giving me before you leave?”, or “I must give you my address…so that you can send me money.” Kind of disappointing that that was their main interest, but I was expecting it. (I gave my number and address out to way too many people.)
During my final weeks I did my best to visit all my closest friends and prepare them for my departure since on the last few days nothing is done properly. So I visited with John, Tony, Peter and his family, Philomena, Milicent, Richard, the expatriate workers, some of the Sisters of the Holy Cross from the area, and my friends from the local restaurant/bar that I go to.
It is hard for me to describe for you how it felt during those final weeks. Sometimes I was in denial of the fact that I was leaving. Sometimes I was really excited to get back to the States. Sometimes I felt like I find a way to stay longer. Feeling like a failure. Feeling proud of what I did….I think you get the picture.
The hardest thing for me to do was to say goodbye to my students. Although I didn’t get to say proper goodbyes to all of them I did get to give them a kind of farewell speech that I somehow made it through with dry eyes. I told them to remember what I taught them. I told them to be strong when hard times come and to have the courage to always do what is right and true. Keeping it short was a must since we were all crammed into the boiling hot electrical workshop so before I knew it I was giving them all awkward hugs goodbye and watching them walk out of the school for the last time.
Br. Daniel gave me the last week off of teaching before I was to catch my flight. I had planned to use the time to rest, relax, catch up on my writing, and discover new insights through prayer and meditation. Naturally, I didn’t do any of that and rather just got myself pulled around all over the place by people who just couldn’t say goodbye. I suppose I couldn’t either. ;)
On the weekend before I was to leave the Brothers held a going away party for me at our house in Butumagyebu. Most of the Brothers came except for some who were away in Kumasi and those who were stuck in Sunyani. Also in attendance were most of the teachers from the Skills Centre and some of my friends from Takoradi, Sekondi, and Kojokrom.
It was a great party with tons of food and drink and lots of laughter. At the very end it was my turn to get up and give my farewell speech. I didn’t want to take too long so I kept it short. I thanked everyone for being so kind to me and for being so patient with me when times were tough. I told them that this was definitely the most challenging thing that I have ever done. I explained that it was the most complex task that I have ever undertaken and that it was only a success because of how we all made it work.
I talked about how it seems like some of the strongest things have been forged by fire and this first year of the Holy Cross Service Corps has certainly been like that. When I think about all of the effort, the emotion, all of the successes and failures, the lessons learned, the pain…just putting it all together to make up one year of the HCSC. I explained that I truly believe that the continuation and improvement of this program will only result in positive change for the District of West Africa and Holy Cross College.
It was a wonderful experience full of adventure and challenges. My experience has come to an end now, but my work has not. It is now time to build the program and give it a solid structure so that our future volunteers can accomplish more each year. My experience has to be shared so as to inspire others, to help them understand that they can make a difference in the world. They can be a part of the solution. We will move forwards in developing the Holy Cross Service Corps and it will be successful.
At this point I would like to thank all of you who read and contributed to this blog. Your comments meant a great deal to me during some of the hard times. For those of you who are students I hope that you will pursue your interest in the Holy Cross Service Corps.
In August I will being working at Holy Cross College as the Assistant Director of the Moreau Center for International Programs. Mainly, I will work on developing the Holy Cross Service Corps as well as assisting in the coordination of our International Experience Programs.
If anyone has any specific questions that you would like to ask about my experience in Ghana or how you can have your own international service experience feel free to ask through this blog.
Thank you very much! Maydasi paaaaaaaaaa!
Inaugural HCSC Volunteer