Maeve Corcoran is a GLA alumna and also part of this year's group of Global Storytellers. She spent three weeks volunteering abroad with GLA on our Ghana: Children of Africa program, an experience she says changed her life forever. Read Maeve's first-person reflection about her time in Ghana below!
When I came upon GLA for the first time and read the description for Ghana, "the heart and soul of West Africa, Ghana is known for its welcoming, passionate and peaceful people," I knew it was meant to be.
The trip was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I had never been away from home longer than five days for a school camping trip, so the idea of flying halfway across the world alone terrified me. I was also nervous because I was going alone with no friends or familiar faces, and I didn't know any of the other high schoolers going to this foreign continent with me.
All my worries quickly went away as I formed friendships in seconds and fell in love with the beautiful country of Ghana. We spent the majority of the 3 weeks in a small village, Anloga, which was about 3 hours outside of the capital on the coast of the country.
There were 19 of us on the trip, from all over the U.S., and even 2 girls from England. My service group (10 of us) was called the "Susus," which means "memories" in Ewe, the native language of the region we were in. We named ourselves this knowing that the memories we were going to create would remain with us forever.
We worked at a school in the nearby community, for two hours building bricks from sand, cement, and water to help create classrooms for their kindergarten and first grade students, and teaching the students English, math, science, and more for another two hours.
At first I dreaded the idea of brick-making in the heat of July, but with teamwork and a good playlist, I actually came to enjoy the natural rhythm of the exercise. I also knew that after each period of brick-making came a period of teaching, and seeing the joy on my students faces as I walked through the door made all the sweat and dirt worth it.
I can honestly say that those 21 days were life-changing. I found beauty and a sense of home in a country on a completely different continent, halfway around the world from where I've spent my entire life.
I developed such strong relationships with both the locals and the members of my trip so quickly, and I know the bonds I created will stay with me forever. I learned to appreciate such little things, things that we take for granted here. I connected with nature and the world more than I ever have.
I have never seen such bright stars or felt as safe and peaceful as I did sitting by the ocean on the beach in the warm sand. I barely touched my phone except for the occasional goodnight text to my family, but I felt a sense of relief and freedom instead of a dependency on a device and social media.
I originally went to Ghana with the intention to teach the children about the world, but soon after arriving, I realized they were teaching me. They taught me about kindness, curiosity, patience, imagination, intelligence, and so much more.
I thought 3 weeks would be too long away from home, but by the end I wished I never had to leave. The service really broadened my eyes to an entirely different, but amazing, culture and community so contrasting from my own.
I hope to stay connected to Ghana for the rest of my life, and I can't imagine who I'd be without having this service experience this past summer.
Huge shoutout to Maeve for sharing her amazing reflection with us! She also made a fantastic video about her trip, which you can check out here.
For students interested in this program, Ghana: Children of Africa was recently chosen as a GLA Founders' Choice Program and is eligible for a tuition grant of up to $300 through March 31. Learn more here.