Tree of Life

Shoutout to our homies, last blog comin’ atcha,

Although we thought this trip would never come to an end, here we are. Today we finished our last day of teaching at Heritage Academy, and let us just say its bittersweet. Many of us wrapped up our lessons with final projects and presentations. Today had a familiar “last day of school” feeling: taking pictures with students, giving out addresses, and saying our goodbyes. At the end of the day we attended a school-wide assembly in which we sang the Ghanaian national anthem with all the students we had met over the week. Each of us shared a lesson we learned at Heritage, including the values of creativity, friendship, and role models, and gave our sincerest thanks to everyone at the school for giving us such an amazing experience.

Along with goodbyes came promises to students to keep in touch. We personally take these very seriously and are committed to writing to the kids, but we also worked hard to impress on the students the limits of our communication abilities. The pen pal system at Heritage can take about 4 months for a letter to be exchanged, leaving a student feeling forgotten or as if our relationship wasn’t genuine. We expressed our dedication to the kids, and discussed in our reflection the way that keeping in touch with these amazing students will be a constant reminder of our time here and also help us be mindful in our home lives.

Speaking of being mindful, your four current blog writers cannot forget to be thankful for the opportunity that F&M has provided to us to come on this trip through the Marshall Scholarship Program. The Marshall Scholarship creates a fund that can be used by students to perform community service or research projects. As recipients of this scholarship, throughout the trip we have been thinking critically of service and our role as volunteers, and we wanted to be sure we were using this award thoughtfully and as it was intended. As two weeks have now past, we can see in our experiences and reflections of stepping outside our comfort zone that we have truly grown as people and learned more than we can say. We acknowledge the apprehensions that go along with service trips, and in some ways we agree with the self-interested nature. However, due to this group’s awareness of this flaw, we try not to be passive participants and constantly question the appropriateness of the role we are playing. This mindfulness has contributed to an experience that undoubtedly made the most of our winter break.

When we first arrived at the guesthouse, our jet-lagged and relatively unacquainted group took a walk down the road and discovered what could only be described as the Tree of Life. We all stared in amazement and took an excruciatingly awkward first photo (choosing to pose as trees instead of actually touching each other). Today, we ceremoniously returned to this epic vertical hunk of wood, this time in our Heritage Academy dresses (and one shirt for Kyle) and students in tow. The picture from this afternoon lacks any awkwardness, and instead shows the true friends we have become over the course of the trip.

Thanks for seeing us through to the end,

Carey, Chloe, Erika, Jen, and everyone else

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7 thoughts on “Tree of Life

  1. Anne and Jefferson says:

    We really appreciate the meaning that you discovered from the work that you have done and we are sure that you will carry it home with you and that it will influence your future choices. We can’t wait to see your group photo AND we can’t wait to see you!

  2. Suanne Blumberg says:

    I can’t wait to see pictures and see how close what I have imagined from your description is to the real thing. A very thoughtful final blog, thank you. Safe travels, love you Carey xoxo.
    Aunt Suanne

  3. Carol Dickey says:

    You all are amazing! Congratulations on a very successful trip. Enjoy your last hours in Ghana and bring home lots of photos and memories! Love to Jennifer.

    Safe travels, Carol Dickey

  4. Ann Dickey says:

    In advance, welcome back to the USA, world citizens. You have done good work. From Jen’s grandmother in Tucson.

  5. gayle sentman says:

    It will be so interesting to all of you to see what ths experience brings about in your life at home. Carey, I’ll be so anxious to talk to yu. Love you–Nanny xoxoxo

  6. Wendy Buddine says:

    Although this is my first (and last) comment, I am filled with such pride and envy as I’ve lived these two weeks along with you through your posts. I am thrilled for all of you to have been lucky enough to participate in this experience. I saw the movie, Mandela, last week and found it to be very emotional for me knowing that my daughter was in Ghana. As you travel back to the U.S., I hope your experiences will stay with you and influence your career and life decisions.

    “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
    -Nelson Mandela.

    Safe travels home to us. Love you, Molly.

  7. Eli Sentman says:

    Carey , Great group PIC and final Blog. Can’t wait to hear about the trip in person. A great experience for u all as you already know. Love u , your DA Dad

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