Dance Celebration at the Durbar for the International Programs Office 20th Anniversary

CIEE, The Council of International Educational Exchange, is my study aboard program. But while in Ghana, there are other support systems for students who choose to study abroad at Legon.  The chief of which is the International Programs Office (IPO).  Just a few days ago, IPO hosted a welcome Durbar for all international students studying at the University of Ghana.  The program was full of greetings, performances, and food. Of course, special attention was paid to the fact that IPO, which was established in 1997, is now celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The mission of IPO is to make the University of Ghana “internationally credible, internationally situated.”  I understood this best, last week when IPO hosted a forum for students after the gas explosions that occurred at Atomic Junction, Accra on October 7th.  The unexpectedness of this event and the visual and physical disruption caused had many students frightened and many parents dialing +233, Ghana’s international called code.  IPO provided a space for students to not just discuss the incident, but how they were acclimating to Ghanaian life and culture.

The tremor of the conversations was much like my experience in Ghana.  Sometimes there are lows and sometimes there are highs: after discussing my time here with a friend she said studying abroad is an “upside down/reverse bell curve.”  As it stands, I have a little over two more months in Ghana.  Already I feel jaded, already I feel tired, and I sure do miss home.  However, I think I can work on shifting my perception and my approach to assignments, to friendships, to new experiences.  At first, one has to “Say Yes,” but after one can say “and.”  Yes, I said I’d like to study abroad in Ghana.  Yes, I applied.  Yes, I am here.  Yes, I’ve tried new foods, new modes of transportation.  Yes, I’ve struck up conversations with Ghanaians.  Yes, I’ve spoken in Twi.  Yes, I’ve been frustrated.  Yes, I’ve been homesick.  AND after all of this, I still think I have more growing to do, much more learning.  AND as result, I must approach the remainder of my time here with “beginner’s mind:” with the same openness, the same zeal, the same willingness to be startled to be caught off guard, to have confusion flow into comprehension as the moment I first touched down.