Finding Comfort in the Uncomfortable: Student Perspectives

Programs for this blog post

Leadership & Service in Children's Education

Authored By:

RaeKenya Walker

For their final presentation, students were asked to create a presentation sharing their expectations and experiences from their time in Ghana and at their service sites. The following quotes came directly from their presentations: 

While CIEE offers a variety of High School Summer Abroad options, for many students, "Ghana was always the only option." With a mix of working with children and growing leadership skills, many students were interested to see if they could learn more about themselves and a potential career path. Our Global Navigators quickly learned that being in a new place is sometimes uncomfortable. “ A leader is someone who is not afraid to grow. They are self-aware and recognize both their weaknesses and strengths.” The students  learned that they “can overcome and learn new things” and the importance of “keeping a positive attitude even on bad days.” Several navigators “volunteered at home but wanted to continue” and learn more. The Global Navigators realized the students they worked with in Accra “enjoyed every moment and never [took] their education for granted.” They discovered their subject and age preferences and they discovered that “every kid requires something different” and “using creativity to teach students new things” made them proud.  “What made me smile was seeing the children’s faces every day” but it felt like we were “finally getting to know them and build trust and now [we’re] leaving”. 

Our Navigators couldn't believe “how welcoming everyone was” and how they “ never felt so loved, so quick”. "The 1st week they were calling me uncle out of respect but the 3rd week they called me uncle because they meant it."  Some students were also surprised at how they could be their authentic selves. “ The best gift I could give myself was confidence”, and “ I am not afraid to grow and be authentic to myself.” 

When asked what lessons they would take back with them, several navigators commented on “the importance of being uncomfortable and changing single stories.” Students commented on how the perception of Ghana, Africa, and other developing nations can be negative and fueled by and filled with bias. Many students felt that they were coming to Ghana out of "pure curiosity" but leaving with “the calling to change things at home". Some students were very clear that this experience changed them and they didn’t want to forget that feeling.  When asked if they had advice for future Global Navigators the resounding answer was "Embrace the opportunity” and “Find comfort in the uncomfortable” because “that’s how you grow, that’s how you become a better leader”