This past summer, with the help of Farther Foundation, 16 eager and deserving Chicago High School students had the opportunity to travel across the country and around the world. While on their programs, these students had unique experiences that opened their eyes to a new world of possibilities and raised their expectations for what they could achieve in their education and in their lives.
One of these students was Melissa, a senior at Notre Dame High School who traveled to Ghana. Here is what Melissa had to say about her adventure:
Traveling to Ghana in the summer of 2011 was definitely the best experience that I have ever had. To be honest, I did not know what to expect. When people describe any part of Africa, they only mention the poverty, never the beauty. Ghana has a beautiful rainforest and beautiful friendly people. My host family was very welcoming and I think they were the perfect family for me. Although, some of the most touching experiences occurred in the children’s home I volunteered at.
A few days after arriving to Ghana, we finally arrived at the children’s home. This place had orphans, lost children, and children who were temporarily there because of family issues. There were so many different personalities. Everyday when I arrived, I would see smiles on their faces because they loved company. One of my favorite moments was when then kids took all of our cameras and took pictures like there was no tomorrow. Aside from keeping them company, we were able to re-paint the walls, buy new mattresses, fix some plumbing issues, build mosquito screens, and donate all sorts of toys.
My family included a host mother, father, two aunts, one sister, and five brothers. I loved having plenty of family members. There was never a dull moment because there was always somebody to keep me company. They taught me so much about their culture. I learned how to eat foods without any eating utensils, how to speak “Twi,” how to greet people, how important school is in order to be successful, and how important family really is in our lives.
As I returned back to the United States, I realized that I have indeed grown as a person. I am more understanding, grateful, and willing. My manners have also significantly improved. I was never a really big fan of saying please since I got whatever I wanted anyway. However, I now catch myself saying it more often. A life-long goal of mine is to continue to help those in need. My love for the country of Ghana is so strong that I plan to return within two years. To me, it is now like a second home. I am grateful that I got a scholarship from the Farther Foundation because without it, my trip to Ghana would have never happened. I am also thankful for the new friends, family, and memories that I now have.
Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.