FOXTALK Winter 2014 - page 22

22 Winter 2014
STUDY ABROAD
Communication alumna finds meaning
of family in study abroad to Ghana
photo courtesy of Colleen Kopchik, ‘12
THE GENERAL
reaction
that you get when you tell
people that you are going
to Ghana is not necessarily
the most encouraging one.
Thoughts of strange tropi-
cal diseases and wild jungle
animals are often some of the
first to pop to mind when you
just casually mention it in con-
versation. What I really didn’t
know at the time was how
much those three weeks of my
life would come to impact me
nearly three years later.
To this day, people ask
with uninhabited curiosity
what my experience was like
but I usually try to sum it up
with the short statement that
“Everyone should have to
visit there at least once in their
life time.”
There is a moment of pure
culture shock when you land
and emerge from the airport
crusty eyed from your 10-hour
flight ready to take on Accra.
At first it all looks average;
traffic lights, some nice shiny
buildings with Toyotas and
even some Mercedes whisking
by. And then suddenly a pretty
young girl no older than 12
comes up to your window at
the stop light with a baby tied
to her back, asking you for
even just a penny.
The days go by and seeing
houses that are made from
BY COLLEEN KOPCHIK, ‘12
four pieces of wood with a
somewhat attached tin roof
or people bathing on the sides
of the road became normal.
Seeing children going to
school became rare.
In the Northern City of
Tamale, I volunteered in a
small village where I taught
elementary English and math
to 14 of the most vivacious
youngsters I have ever had
the pleasure of meeting. I
taught them using silly songs
and dances, but it was those
14 young adults that taught
me the biggest lesson of all:
you need nothing more in life
than to be good and surround
yourself with good.
In a place where running wa-
ter and electricity are a luxury,
learning to appreciate mate-
rial things is the easy part.
Appreciating your commu-
nity, the people you surround
yourself with, the opportuni-
ties that are granted each day
is the difficult part. Whether
it is your Marist family or
your biological family, there
is nothing more important in
your life than the people in it
and the experiences they will
grant you. Just like the people
of Ghana have done for me.
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