In September 2007, Bryce Davidson went with his grandmother Louise and seven other former delegates from the 2006 GCJ Ghana Journey to return to Axim. Check out the Ghana Blog for more about the trip, and read on to see what Bryce had to say about his experience.
Ghana was the most amazing thing I have ever done, seriously. I never expected that there was a society of people that could be so friendly and caring. In the U.S., we don’t have people like that. Well – not nearly as many. But on this trip I met a few of the Americans that were that way! How amazing seeing the great sides of both cultures.
I went to Ghana because of the orphanage built by the Western Heritage Home NGO, and the help that’s been provided by Global Citizen Journey. I was there for two weeks. Twelve of the days were spent in Axim, where the orphanage is, and two of the days were spent in Accra.
I am really glad I went at the age I did. It gave me a better view of the world and different cultures. If I were any younger, it wouldn’t have meant much to me and I wouldn’t have understood it. There still are many things I don’t understand, but hopefully when I get the opportunity to visit Ghana again, I will make more sense of things.
One of the things I don’t understand is when all the buildings were built, who built them, and how long they have been there. It was seldom that you saw buildings being built. I also don’t understand where they get their supplies. I never saw any supply trucks.
It was great to see how their society operates. For example, in America we often come to blows over differences, but in Ghana they just yell about it to get their anger out instead of resorting to physical arguments. I only saw that once – at the airport over the tips for handling our luggage.
Another difference is their hospitality. They just give and give and make you as comfortable as possible. It’s a wonderful feeling to be so welcome. My first night in Accra, Frank Cudjoe did everything he could to get us the best rooms possible and made extra sure the air conditioning worked. When I spent the night at Gifty’s (Gifty Baaba Asmah), she went in and bought me several bars of chocolate and apple juice just because! They all try to make everything as perfect as it can be. At Gifty’s, they tried to give me my own room and queen sized bed! They also tried to get me to eat separately with their best silverware.
One of the things I expected was very depressed people living in ruins. I was amazed that they seem happier than about 99.9% of the American population. They are very poor, but they embrace what they have and they’re happy with it! They embrace that they are alive even though they sometimes don’t have money for food. It was amazing to me that they were so happy and free spirited. There is singing and dancing constantly going on and they are all so loud and energetic. We don’t seem to have nearly as much energy. Here in the U.S., all people seem to want is more, more, more. They want more stuff, more money, whatever – they’re never happy.
Another thing I noticed about the Ghanaians is how much they help each other and work together. They all just pitch in and do their part, and when one is ill they help them. We don’t have that as much here.
The children are very intelligent and very energetic. They are also very, very creative. They found ways to make games with just a stick. And you won’t believe what one of them can make with a rubber band! About three-fourths of the orphans were very energetic. The other fourth weren’t as hyper and seemed to be very shy and quiet, and one little boy was very sad. He refused to talk to or look at anyone.
One major difference I have noticed in myself since returning is that now, when I see a cool toy on TV, I know I don’t NEED it, I just want it. I used to say, “Mom, I NEED it.” Now I realize that stuff doesn’t make you happier like most people think. They want more money for stuff. But, as I observed, you don’t need stuff to be happy. One life lesson everyone needs to learn is to make the best of your life. You have one life – have fun during it, and try to make the world a better place before you leave it. Don’t do things at the expense of other people if it is at all possible. The last lesson is, you don’t need stuff to be happy.
Well, it was the most amazing learning trip I have ever had or will have for a long time, if not the most – period.
Bryce Davidson, November 18, 2007