Back to the Grind

After an incredible time in the US I am now back in my village.  Harmattan (dry season) is in full effect with everything covered in dust, but at least the nights are cooler.  There has also been some progress made with the school latrines not as much as I would like, however.  Finally Jocie (my girlfriend whom some of you already know about) has also come back with me offering a unique dynamic and perspective to my experience.

To everyone I saw in America…thank you so much for making it such a great time!  After almost getting stuck in Ghana because I did not have the credit card my mom bought the plane ticket with, I made it.  The only negative thing about being home was watching ND get rolled, but at least I got to see them play (or try to).

I loved seeing each and every one of you hearing what you’ve been up to the past year and a half.  There’s only so much I can gather from FB and it was awesome to see each of you in real life.  Whether it was in Tower Lakes, Barrington, Lincoln Park, Lakeview or South Haven we did it up right.  And to those I didn’t get to see, I’m sorry.  Being home for only three weeks just wasn’t enough.  Luckily I should be back this summer for a longer period of time so we can meet up then.

I was able to do some business while I was home.  I had grad school meetings at Notre Dame and UChicago.  Both went very well and I was very impressed.  Hopefully that feeling was mutual.  I also completed a fellowship application that can be used at any of the schools I applied to.  Finally I did get an acceptance letter to Indiana so that certainly made for a very Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday.

On my way back to Ghana I met Jocie at JFK in New York to fly back.  I met her through a mutual friend six months before I left for Ghana, and we’ve been in contact ever since.  She wants to go into nursing and found a volunteer program in Ghana that allows her to work at a women’s clinic and orphanage for three months.  She set it up so that she could fly back with me to see the country and get adjusted before starting her work.  It’s been great having someone to travel with and share my experience.  I try to convey everything through this blog, pictures and conversations but unless you see it for yourself you don’t really understand.  It’s interesting to see the things she points out as new or different and to me it’s nothing special.  I guess I’ve been here longer than I thought!

The day after I got back to my village we had another latrine meeting since the progress was not fast enough while I was gone.  The community has agreed to have their contribution finished by Monday, so we can bring in the latrine artisans to start physical construction which should take about one month.  I am also getting a visit from our country director on Monday.  He is in the area visiting all the volunteers’ sites just to talk and see how/what we’re doing.

A few weeks later Jocie and I will go to Accra to help at the National Spelling Bee before she goes to her post outside Accra.  I will then take the Foreign Service Test at the US Embassy.  This exam is for anyone who wants to be a Foreign Service Officer.  It is supposed to be very difficult with many people taking it a few times before they pass.  Even once you pass the exam, there are still many steps to complete before being hired.  Despite the odds, I would love to work at embassies all over the world and that certainly won’t happen if I don’t take the test.

That’s it from here I suppose.  All the other volunteers are great and the newly elected president has been sworn in.  The Africa Cup of Nations football tournament starts this weekend in South Africa, and Ghana is favored to do well.  I hope everyone had as enjoyable a holiday season as I did and are now looking forward to 2013.  I know I certainly am!

Steve

P.S.  You’re welcome for ending the lockout!

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