work hard, play harder

“Well, do you have any time for like, social stuff?” asks my poor father. After explaining a grueling day in the life of a Peace Corps trainee, you would think I was in boot camp. Yes, eight hours of training, six days a week has been tiring. Alongside, you know, inescapable heat, being the center of attention daily, unwavering stomach issues, speaking the local language that differs from the one I’m learning at my site, all-night church services outside my window, adjusting to a staple food that resembles play dough, mosquito bites, bed bug bites, spider bites, ant bites, heat rash, sunburns and a whole lot of I-don’t-really-know-what-this-is-guys-but-it-won’t-go-away. And being an ocean away from everything I believed to be normal just a couple of months ago.

“Yea dad. We find time to have fun.”

We are probably having more fun then we should. Our three sectors, Watsan, SED (small enterprise development), and Environment are all living in different villages. No matter how long the days have been, we manage to sneak away a couple nights a week to grab drinks and exchange stories of the ridiculousness that is living in Ghana as an American. Planning holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) consumes us. Sundays are spent slowly packing out the internet cafes and wandering through markets, spending most of our allowance on beads and fabrics. Being whooped by Ghanaians in basketball and soccer is quickly becoming a favorite pastime. We have hiked and swam in the falls. We have navigated through new winding cities. We have traveled 18 hours straight in a tro on dirt roads, left to entertain ourselves with endless car games.

But most importantly, we dance. Ghana is our dance floor. So we dance and dance and dance.

I remember when I sat overwhelmed in Philadelphia, hardly able to pay attention to the orientation sessions. One of the staff told us to take a good look around. “This is your new family,” she said. “These people will carry you through the next two years.” Those faces could not have been more unfamiliar and strange at the time. By now I have cried in numerous arms, slept on several shoulders, laughed until it hurts with the best, gotten sick next to most, and bellowed the lyrics to Journey with every last one. So while Peace Corps is at times emotionally and physically grueling, it the most satisfying bittersweet I have yet to experience.


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