My placement is halfway through and just over 6 weeks remain. Time to get serious.
That was the thought that went through my brain as I fell asleep on Monday morning at around 3 a.m. after some really great discussion with some of the other JFs. In many ways, it feels like the six weeks I’ve spent in Ghana have gone very slowly, because I’ve learned a ridiculous amount, been challenged plenty, and had a head full of thoughts the whole time. But in other ways, the last six weeks seem to have slipped by while I’ve been racing to put one foot in front of the other. It feels like I’m running a change marathon at a pace reserved for a sprint.
3 months is simply not enough time.
I spent the last week with the other JFs travelling on bumpy roads in crowded tros, hunting for elephants, fending off crazy baboons, swimming (which every summer ought to include), casting magic spells, writing love letters, creating team strategy, dancing like a fool with a bunch of fools, laughing a lot, and talking about Development with a pair of Danish men.
The mid-placement retreat and subsequent country meeting in which the JFs took part was perfectly timed for centering and self-reflection. It felt like a little pit stop in the marathon we’re all running, the goal of which was to look both back at where we started, and forward to the finish line. When I look at my progress critically, I see some successes and some failures and some unexplored avenues. In each of these are lessons for the second half of the marathon and the things that I’ve learned will carry me through to the finish line.
I’m going to have to shift my focus to get there. Change must rapidly form the core of my approach(es) and I think the key to creating that change is to become focused on people, to truly understand the realities they face and the perspectives they have, no matter how difficult I find that process. It’s about feeling what it means to be a JHS student awaiting BECE results, a highly demotivated teacher, a rural farmer struggling to get an education, a dropout who was failed by the system, a teenage mother, a well-educated Ghanaian; the list goes on.
These perspectives will drive me to keep up the sprinting pace and motivate me to push even harder.
There’s so much to do, so much to experience, and so much to feel in the next month and a half. It’s overwhelming to think about, but also somehow exciting. Six weeks means that I have 3.6 million seconds left for this race. That’s 3.6 million tiny spaces in which to live, however fleetingly, in the moments of Ghana. To be challenged and to challenge and to learn and maybe even to dream. The second half of my placement will be full of amazing opportunities to live all of the things that I want to and to make every small change that I can.
3.6 million changes?
I hope I have the grace to handle that.