Monday, November 5, 2007

Letter from the Editor

Life and Times of JWN
JWN African Beard
Back in Action

So, we made it home from Ghana safely. I won't give too much away because we are dedicating a future issue solely to the trip, but it was the most incredible cultural experience of my life. How so? I mixed and mingled with people that live in a completely different part of the world.

One third of the population lives on less than $1 a day. Thus, I saw the most extreme poverty imaginable. On the other hand, our group's business development initiatives, traditional event attendance, and political meetings left me with a broad view of the whole populous. It was a truly unique opportunity to view the spectrum of life in a developing country.

From this brief and relatively superficial stage, I would like to move on to some things that I have taken away from the trip. In due time I will provide the retrospective analysis of the engagement, but for now it is time to think about the present.

What did I take away?

1) Everybody forms stereotypes. As much as we may be apt to stereotype Ghanaians, or Africans in general, we must remain questioning and curious because Ghanaians stereotype Americans as well and neither of us are 100% correct.

Initially, I had no idea what to expect in terms of how I would be viewed by the Ghanaian people. I did know that they are well known for their hospitality and warm demeanor, but I did not know what they would think of me, the American.

It seemed as though every person, young and old, thinks of Americans as a gateway to a better life. I pride myself on my ability to connect with individuals, but in this environment I received more contact information by doing less "work" than I ever have before. Unfortunately, they may be discouraged to know that I had enough trouble getting my own Visa.

2) People are people, no matter where they are born. We're all in this world together and we strive for the same thing; a higher quality of life. I was blessed to be born in America where I have a system which supports and provides an efficient outlet for my ambitious desires. My new Ghanaian friends aren't that lucky.

By traveling to a world where people are dealt a hand worse than you can even imagine, you learn to appreciate what you have. In my case, I learned that I can use my hand to make a difference. My unique skill set and wonderful support system enabled me to travel to Ghana and I think it sent me there for a reason. (As cliche as it may sound, all things do tend to happen for a reason).

Upon first reflection, the reasons that stick out to me are ones of empathy, opportunity, and global citizenship. As a result of my trip I feel a heightened sense of each of these things.

3) Everybody brings something to the table. Many people may think about a country like Ghana and say, 'What can I learn from these people?' My response would be, 'More than you think.'

I am back in America; the land where people smile less, appreciate little, and stress out more. Meanwhile, Ghana and its people reminded me of the beauty of hospitality, friendship, and curiosity.

These are a few of the immediate changes that have happened to me in the 'right here, right now' since my arrival back to America. I hope they can be of value to you in your own thoughts on global citizenship and humanity in general.

JWN Photo Note: I also came home with a sweet African beard. It has since been shaved but it was fun while it lasted.

Goin' global is where it's at, ~JWN