Peter was quivering with excitement, and my Ghanaian teaching colleague, Seth, couldn’t help but hop up and down with each burst of emotion coursing through his zesty heart.
“He’s a SERIOUS radio presenter!” my friends gushed, hauling me and my camera in the direction of the yellow-shirted man.
With all this zing in the air, how could my heart NOT thump as well? But the truth was: I had no clue who this big-shot man in gold was.
Perhaps it has happened to you. You’re chilling innocently with friends, when suddenly– an idol is spotted! Everyone begins to freak out, pointing, hyperventilating, and wildly scheming how to approach/photograph/grope the famous human. Meanwhile, you are awkwardly humming a little ditty that goes something like this: “Dum-te-dum, who the heck is that?”
In the end, though, how can you not go along with the surging wave of excitement? If you sit your ignorant self to the sidelines whilst all your pals snap photos, wouldn’t you somehow insult everyone involved? What if you one day grew to know and love the celebrity’s work and then wished you’d shaken that famous hand?
And so, on that day in that giant Ghana Independence Day festival in Aburi, Ghana Botanical Gardens, I leapt into the celebrity love-fest with abandon, just like everybody else– whether or not I knew the name of the idol posing for the photos next to me. Deep down, I’ve always been such a sucker for fame!
But on the flip side, here’s a persistent fantasy I have about a different definition of “Celebrity”…
In this dream, my friend Meg and I are standing in a long line to get into the swankiest new restaurant in Manhattan. We’ve been waiting for hours and our cute little dresses are starting to chafe. The queue is hardly budging.
“Argh,” moans Meg, “There’s ANOTHER limo of celebrities cutting the entire line!” We glare as the stars approach the door and whisper a haughty sentence to the bouncers (likely: “Do you KNOW who I AM?”) and are instantly ushered past the velvet rope.
In this fantasy, it is then that Meg and I get a brilliant idea. We stride out of the stagnant line and walk right up to the entrance guards.
“Can I help you?” the burly bouncer growls.
“Do you KNOW who we ARE?” Meg and I demand with extreme pomposity.
“N-n-o,” stutters the bouncer. “Who are you?”
Meg and I raise our chins high and declare: “We are TEACHERS!”
Without another word, the bouncer bows down, throws open the rope for our glorious entrance, and provides us with free appetizers and roses the whole evening long.
And thus ends my awesome fantasy.
But seriously, look between the first (celebrity-celebrating) photo and the final (supposedly celebrity-free) picture.
Only the first one has a well-known Ghanaian radio presenter in it.
However, BOTH photos feature some really dedicated, dynamic youth workers. Moreover, the last photo contains the founder of Youth Creating Change of Ghana: a program which has changed the lives of hundreds of students and is expanding its impact each year. You know where this this point is going, don’t you? WE are all big deal celebrities, too, in our own way!
Get our autograph, folks– we’re getting things done in this world!
Tourist note: Gaze at these photos to see why Aburi Botanical Gardens is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in all of Ghana. I highly recommend this breezy hilltown if you’re doing the Ghana travel thing!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!