Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prepping for Africa

In preparation for my study abroad this upcoming fall to Ghana I, unfortunately, had to get six shots and order anti-malarial pills on Wednesday. But the shots didn’t phase me nor did the daunting task of taking those malaria pills every single day the whole time I’m in Africa. What truly affected me during the nearly-two-hour session was the way in which Ghana was perceived by the nurse. I know she certainly didn’t mean any harm by it but I also got the feeling that she had never been to Africa. As she was giving me precautionary advice she kept referring to the Ghanaians as “them” and was telling me not to trust their police or hospitals or water or anything for that matter. I was informed that I absolutely should not get tap water in my mouth nor should I eat anything that has not been cooked. I should not use their hospitals unless absolutely necessary since their doctors are not up to par with American standards. I should remember that their police are not to be trusted and have no interest in helping foreigners. And as she kept listing what I should and should not do all I could think was “Do you expect me to stay holed up in my dorm room the entire time?” There’s no need to fear going to a country in Africa (or any country for that matter). Yet, this is what she seemed to want—she wanted me to fear all the diseases and parasites and dirty food and unsanitary water that I would be exposed to. She had this strange perception of Africa as this dangerous and dirty place and it really bothered me. I’d love to hear from people who have been to Africa—have you experienced this perception from others?


Anonymous said...

i've absolutely heard these same type of comments from others, only to find the African people to be amazingly generous, clean (even while living with no water and in terrible living conditions), kind, and funny. I have eaten from roadsides and in beautiful restaurants, on floors with the poor and in gorgeous living rooms with the rich. Through it all, I haven't been sick. Maybe i simply have a stomach of steel, but I think that half the battle is won by not beng afraid. Don't be afraid of the unknown - embrace it, learn from it and enjoy it. You'll be much richer for it.

American Foundation for Children with AIDS said...

Thanks for your comment! I definitely don't see this experience as full of challenges or obstacles or as anything to be afraid of. I'm always amazed at people's fear of the unknown--I think it's exciting!