Monday, September 12, 2011

Meeting the President

On September 1, 2011 the Peace Corps class of 11-13 met with the President of Ghana. This just happened to also be my 23rd birthday.  We originally found out that our going to site would be delayed because the President wanted to recreate a picture with us. 50 years ago on August 30th the first ever Peace Corps group came to Ghana and met with the president.  These were group of strong idealist individuals that had no idea what they signed up for. Imagine the US President John F. Kennedy choosing you to go to Africa to help them.  No one has ever experienced or done what you are about to do.  The personal willpower and ingenuity of these people completely blows my mind. We were able to see some of the first volunteers at our swearing in.  I just kept thinking what if my mom, dad, grandma or grandpa were one of the first PCVs. What stories they would have! I will think of these people and channel their strength every time I have a tough time here.

Alright back to my birthday. I woke up that morning extremely worried. The day before I left my wallet on a tro with my PC ID, ATM card that had all my moving in allowance, a lot of cash to travel to my site and a flash drive.  We were sent to the PC Accra office before we met with the President so I figured I would talk to the safety and security people when I got there. After being in a very sassy mood all morning the PC staff said that a man called and said he had my wallet.  The first wave of relief hit. Although this man was far away, I was put on a PC car and sent to go pick up my wallet. I heard Rob the PC training Coordinator say that we have to be back at the site by 12:30pm or we won’t meet the President. It was 10:30am.  I didn’t even know if there was still anything in my wallet. A very large group was going to the bank because they were having ATM card problems. What if mine has problems? When will I have the opportunity to get to a Standard Charter branch bank? Worst-case scenario: I get my wallet back with no money in it, my ATM card is hacked and I miss meeting the President. This is all too much for me to worry about especially on my birthday.

Here is what actually happened.  The driver and I got stuck in traffic. It was almost noon by the time we reached the guy. I actually recognized him. Isaac was sitting in front of me in the tro and we had small conversation.  He returned my wallet with EVRYTHING in it.  I was so shocked. People really can be honest and trustworthy. My expectations now for the human race are very high.  Another wave of relief hits me.  Now its time for the race back to the Accra office.  The office calls us and tells us to hurry up (you would lol if you knew what the Accra traffic is like).  They give us until 1pm to get there. We do our best, but 1pm comes around and we still got a ways to go. The tell us to just go directly to the Castle.  I start thinking this ain’t that bad. Maybe I will miss the beginning of the ceremony, but I won’t miss all.

We make it to the Presidents Castle on the beach.  We have to go through many gates with men with big guns. The driver rolls down the window and tells the men with guns, “She is with the group.” They say ok and wave us through.  I felt like such a VIP. I then get escorted to the royal gardens where there are tents and a red carpet. I sit next to Sean and he says, “Happy Birthday! I arranged this all for you.” A man comes and brings me water on a silver platter. I feel underdressed in my Ghanaian made dress in such a high-class place.  Could this be happening? I hadn’t missed anything.  The Country Director, Ghanaian US Ambassador and Ghanaian President all give a speech. The President talked about how he had a PC English teacher and how he has not forgotten them. He told us that there is no way to repay the volunteers that have come to Ghana. It was a really touching speech that I believe you can find on the Internet. After the talks was a reception where they gave us friend chicken and beer. It was so laughable. There we were dressed the best we could, in a castle gardens, the President just walked down a red carpet and took a picture with us and feasting on chicken and beer. We could not have been anymore content with life. 

That night I said goodbye to some people, but Sean convinced PC not to let me travel 7 hours on my birthday. I stayed in Accra with him and friends to celebrate my birthday. I did not spend any money and had a fantastic time with people I am so blessed to be able to work with. BEST 23rd BIRTHDAY OF ALL TIME.

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