Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Best Version of Yourself


Whoa, what a journey! After many days of travel and no Internet access, I am finally connected to you all again! Sorry for the huge delay… but it’s a common hazard of travel. First I’m going to take you back to the last moments of Internet at the airport…

We missed our flight to Accra. Everything that could go wrong did. First, our first flight was delayed and one of the JFs (Junior Fellows) had to take a totally different flight than us. Then, our second flight was delayed so long that we missed our last flight. We did everything we could, contacting both airlines, getting them to try and hold the flight, but we missed it by about half an hour. Yes... this does all sound very bad. But... it's really not. None of it was within our control. Sometimes, shit happens. So what did we do? We sang of course! We broke out in Home ( and Wonderwall ( on the floor of the baggage claim area into the wee hours of the night. You know what, everyone was smiling. Sure, we were tired. But we got to spend the night in Virginia, in big comfy beds. The really rough part is that we did not get to Accra in the time we needed to, as well as our bus ride to our in-country training in Tamale being delayed 8 hours. Therefore, we missed an entire day of in-country training. What are you going to do? Like I said, it was out of our control.
Anyways, all that is not important because we made it to Ghana! What hit me first? Probably the heat, and then the friendliness of all the people! Legitimately, everyone greets each other. It is amazing! On top of that, Ghana is a beautiful country. There is quite a lot of greenery, more than you may expect. There are goats running around everywhere in Tamale, and the roads are full of taxis, bicycles and motos (motorcycles).

I think the hardest part (and it is not that hard) about living in Ghana is dealing with the lack of sanitation. There are open sewer systems and garbage disposal is pretty much non-existence. What is interesting is that Ghana is a relatively developed nation. In my opinion, I think the sanitation is what gives the perception of being super underdeveloped. Don’t get me wrong, there are still huge issues of poverty. But Ghana is not lost. Even look at the surrounding nations: Côte D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Togo. Each is incredibly unstable or experiencing some dark times, but not Ghana. Ghana is stable, and may I say, happy. There are ads on the streets that resonate with progress. For example, there are billboards about respecting the mentally ill and street children. I am no expert, these are just my observations over the past couple days.

Today, I had my first MoFA (Ministry of Food and Agriculture) meeting! Yahoo! We discussed and practiced impact models, value propositions, hypothesis testing, and environmental factors. I’m not going to go into detail about these, as they are pretty complex tools, but I have to say how useful they are! I saw how they would apply to my placement (which I am leaving for Monday morning by the way! Woo!) and it got me really excited to get started, and a tad overwhelmed as well.

Another team MoFA focus today was our team culture. Have you ever thought back to a time when you were the best version of yourself? Try it! It can be very enlightening. Then go a step further: figure out what values you embodied at that time. That’s what team MoFA did to pick out all the values, and then actions, that would define our team this summer. It is pretty wicked. So, my challenge today is if you have some time to reflect, think back to when you were the best version of yourself. It could be that time in grade nine when you made a sports team, or maybe that summer you volunteered every weekend, or even when you just felt content every day.

Anyways, I think that is all from me for now! See you soon! I should be online way more these days!

Later days,


  1. Daniella! You rock. I just read ur post and it is sick. Im in Benin this summer and my exchange manager is from Cote D'Ivoire and he says he loves Ghana becuase the people know how to work hard. Then I saw some fishermen at the beach from Ghana and I was thinking of you! Good luck with your placement and keep up the blog posts!

  2. Hey Daniela,

    Great post. I really like your statement about how Ghana is not lost. Its really interesting. The idea that underdevelopment is defined through a superficial lens. Ghana does have a lot of poverty, but the impression of Ghanaians by the western world is deteriorated by the images they see of ghanaians. I think that stepping back though, the issue of sanitation is a big one, and one the country has refused to face for a long time, from what I can tell. It is slowly changing, the culture towards sanitation, but not fast enough I think to keep up with the growth of the country. I'd love to hear more insights on how you think sanitation issues impact the perception of ghanaians in the world.

    Keep plugging away Daniela. Your blog has now been bookmarked.


  3. Daniela - you have the best attitude ever! It is so great to hear that you can be singing songs despite terrible travels, and that you are already being challenged and learning so much. MoFA meeting #1 sounds awesome, and I can't wait to hear more about your placement!

  4. Hey Danielle! Love your attitute, that's what can make or break a trip like this: how you handle the unexpected (and less pleasant) stuff. Keep it up!