Tag Archives: Pre-Departure

12 Hours till Takeoff

It’s been difficult saying goodbyes over the past few days, but it has made me realize that I have a lot people in my life that care and I’m going to miss you all! Thanks to everyone who took me out to lunch, dinner, for drinks, etc.

My flight leaves for Philadelphia at 8:30 am. I’m all packed and ready to go! Here is the rundown of what I’m bringing:

Hiking backpack
Rolling Duffel bag
20 Pairs of cotton underwear
3 T-shirts
Business casual outfit
Pair of shorts
5 Pairs of socks
Workout/exercise outfit
Hat for the sun
Lightweight waterproof jacket
2 Pairs of slacks/pants
2 Collar short sleeve shirts
3 Undershirts
Pair of board shorts
Pair of hiking pants 
Pair of dress shoes
Pair of durable sandals
Pair of sneakers
Pair of running shoes
Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss
4 Deodorant sticks
Towel (camp towel preferable)
Nail clippers/tweezers
2 Bar soap
2 Bar shampoo
14 Sunglasses (giving these away)
Bottle lotion
Face wash
Wash cloth/loofah
SPF 50 
2 Flash drives
Ipod touch w/ headphones
Outlet adapter and voltage converter
2 Headlamps
Chargable batteries with charger
External hard drive
Mini Tripod
Solar cell
Small fry pan
50 Ziplock bags
2 Nalgenes
Roll of duct tape
Multitool knife
3 Journals
Thermarest compressible pillow
Set of earplugs
3 Pens
Voice Recorder
10 Passport photos
Picture of family
Coffee grounds
Coffee Press

Right now I’m weighing in at 40 lbs for my duffel bag and 22 lbs for my hiking backpack. I planned to come in under the Peace Corps maximum baggage weight limit of 80 lbs, but a total of 62 lbs makes me worry that I’m forgetting something. Time to go double-check.


One Month Till Takeoff

I booked my plane ticket today. The plan is to fly to Philadelphia on February 5th (Super Bowl Sunday!), attend staging/orientation the next day, bus over to NY, then fly over to Ghana! Since I’m flying to Philly from the west coast I had no choice but to fly over on Sunday, the day before staging starts. Unfortunately, this will mean that I will most likely miss the Super Bowl.

So far the only bad thing about going to Ghana is that it sounds similar to so many other countries…I’m constantly reminding people that I’m going to Ghana, not Gambia, Grenada, or Guinea. In fact, when I called to book my plane ticket the lady on the phone wanted to send me to Guyana’s staging event, which takes place the week before Ghana’s.

Why Peace Corps?

People volunteer for the Peace Corps for many reasons. Maybe it’s because you want to live outside of the U.S. for a couple of years or learn another language. Or you want to do something worthwhile and meaningful with your life. Perhaps you feel you are in a rut personally and/or professionally and the Peace Corps is the perfect opportunity to change the direct your life is headed. There is no right or wrong reason to join and people from all ages and demographics to do so for completely different reasons.

I’ve already been asked quite a few times by friends, family, and the Peace Corps itself why I decided to join the Peace Corps. Why leave a life of relative luxury and move to a village with no running water and electricity? Why leave your family and friends and move to another country where I know no one? Why quit your job when the U.S. has double-digit unemployment and become a “volunteer”? All of these questions are justified and should warrant a good answer.  However, it seems everytime I’m asked why I decided to join the Peace Corps, my answer is different than the previous time.

Truly, I don’t have one single reason why I decided to join. In one-way or another, each of the reasons I listed above applies to me in some way. However, one thing all of these motives for joining have in common is that I believe they will change me for the better. I want become fluent in another language. I want be a positive influence in someone else’s life. I want to discover what I truly want to do with the rest of my life. Sure all of these things can be accomplished without joining the Peace Corps, but sometimes you have to take a risk and do what is best for you.

As Peace Corps volunteer, we are sent off to a distant country with the challenging task of assimilating into a foreign culture and making a positive impact in the community we live in. At the same time, I’ve heard many times that the Peace Corps experience has as positive of an impact on the volunteer as it does on the community. If this is the case for me, then I will consider my Peace Corps experience a success.

Ghana Factbook

The most common response I get when I tell someone I’m moving to Ghana for two years is… “Ghana? That’s in Africa, right?” Since the average person doesn’t know much about Ghana, here are some interesting facts about Ghana courtesy of the CIA.

  • In 1957, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence.
  • Ghana is located in Western Africa, bordering Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo. It is slightly smaller than Oregon.
  • English is the official language, but there are a ton of regional languages spoken, such as Akan, Mole-Dagbon, and Ewe. I get to learn one or more of these regional languages.
  • The population of Ghana is 24.8 million (smaller than California’s) and the population of its capital, Accra, is 2.269 million (smaller than San Diego’s).
  • The adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDs in Ghana is 1.8%, which ranks 32nd highest in the world. In comparison the adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDs in the U.S. is 0.6%
  • 57.9% of Ghana is literate.
  • The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ghana is $61.97 billion. The GDP of the United States is $14 trillion.
  • A better comparison would be GDP per capita. The GDP per capita of Ghana is $2,500. The GDP per capita of the United States is $47,200.
  • There is electricity in Ghana! In fact they consume 6.06 billion kWh a year.

These are all of the facts I can handle for now. I’m sure I will learn a lot more interesting facts about Ghana while I live there.