Ghana is a country that can be summed up in a million words or none at all. It’s a country and people that you can only scratch the surface in trying to explain with descriptions and pictures.
Being back here three years after my time as a student, I often found myself comparing the experience to last time. I’m sure the students have heard enough of my comparisons. We have done the same travel days, the same clinical placement, the same safaris in Mole, and beach days on Cape Coast.
It should feel like I’ve done the same trip as last time, but it was vastly different.
Jeanette and I (along with the group catching on and joining in) have come up with our catchphrase “Upgrade!” From things as simple as wifi in the immigration hall at the Accra airport to finding out our clinic at Chenshegu has been staffed and functional since we left last year. There have been plenty of times to exclaim “Upgrade!”
It has been amazing to return to this country and see the progress that can happen in just a few short years. We often explain to the students about how we aren’t here to “do” but to observe and learn. It’s a difficult thing to wrap your head around when nursing school is all skills and to do lists. It can often feel like we are here doing nothing helpful. But the change and community development that is happening here with our program is palpable and obvious. Simply bringing students here to engage and learn in healthcare here makes a difference. And we have all learned... the change usually happens in ourselves and not in our Ghanaian partners.
The students have explained it all throughout our blog posts. The learning is not always in clinical but just by being here and experiencing this wonderful culture and people.
As much as there has been “upgrades” every step of the way. There is also no need for upgrades in many areas. Being back has reminded me that Ghana, and especially the northern region, has not changed and should not change. All our partners who we continue to work with remain a constant in this program. Our Ghanaian friends and colleagues are amongst the most intelligent, hard working and generous people on the planet. We have all learned so much from them and we wish them never to change.
I think I can speak for us all when I say that that we all are so grateful and honoured to have worked with our friends here. We will miss then so much and carry them with us as we leave.
It has been truly an honour to be back. It’s been an honour and a pleasure to walk alongside these students on the last part of their BSN journey. It has been a pleasure to share my time here with Jeanette as a colleague and a friend. And it has truly been an honour to be back in Ghana.
I, myself, truly have been upgraded again by this place.
Mara Macauley BSN, RN
UBC Okanagan Alumni
Class of 2016