Chapter 11 - This Place

I didn't come here to tell them what to do. I didn't come here to push western ideals on their culture. I didn't come here to try to change anything about their way of living. I came here to immerse myself in their world and see where I can help - not on my terms, but on theirs. I think that is why I'm accepted. I always feel like no matter what the situation, when you are treading on someone else's territory you should step lightly, and maybe sit back and observe first. Some things here make no sense to me at all, but I do my best to learn - because you shouldn't travel outside your bubble if you aren't ready to be taught.

It is interesting to experience being the minority, because I usually don't walk around being reminded that I am white. I appreciate seeing things from a different vantage point. I am not often in situations where the color of my skin proceeds me, but I am the token "white friend" around here. I would be lying if I said it didn't feel weird, and kind of bad.

I remember this happened last time - in the second week my nerves are on edge. Today I went to the market in Kasoa, about 30 minutes from Ofaakor, to look for some clothes for some small children. Everything is close together so you have to weave in and out. They sell everything from dried fish, to televisions, to socks, and anything in between. The stands are occupied by sellers who will hiss at you and yell, "O-BRO-NEEE, BUY FROM MEEEEE." They will grab your hand and say, "COME, COME!" even though they have no idea what you are looking for. You will be hot and sweaty and exhausted often the moment you get there. Every single person will ask you what you want and try to point you in the right direction, usually yielding no results. It is annoying to say the least, but I get it, I stick out like a sore thumb - which is something I try to appreciate because it makes me see in a different way.

By the second week I ignore people who don't call me Stephanie. I take 14 days to correct the kids when they call me white person and remind them I have a name. After 2 weeks I have picked my favorites in this place. I have no shame in that because if I think you are special I'm going to make sure you know it. I am going to pay you extra attention, and sometimes give you things, but mostly my time. After 2 weeks I am leaving, and it is too soon.

This place will teach you patience. It will teach you gratitude. It will teach you what matters and what doesn't. It will break you down, and put you back together differently - in a way where you are still yourself but you understand much more than you ever thought you could. This place is my second home and I will look forward to coming back.