Article #18 in the YCC Kids Club Ghana Student Life Stories Project
The Life-Changing Youth Exchange Between Ghana and the United Kingdom
By Nuworkpor Nelson, Age 15
It all started in February of 2009. That afternoon, a teacher came to my class and called to eight students: “The headmaster wants to see you!” I was surprised because the Headmaster is very busy and does not invite students into his office at all times.
When we arrived in the office, we saw a gentleman sitting in one of the chairs in the office. He introduced himself as John Glidden, the director of Youth Creating Change, Ghana. I suddenly began to breathe fast because I knew YCC to be a good organization with the aim of inspiring today’s youth. Why was the Director visiting our school?
YCC’s Director revealed: “You eight students have been selected as candidates for the Cross-Culture program of YCC. If you accept, you will begin attending Cross-Culture classes at YCC each week. Then in April, you will have a mystery visitor, and the opportunity to compete for an exceptional programme!” I was excited and curious!
Two months of fascinating Cross-Culture classes flew by, and at last April came. When we entered class that day, we saw an unfamiliar lady and a gentleman sitting right there. We became nervous. YCC’s Director then introduced the visitors to us: they were Melissa and Michael from a youth services organization in the United Kingdom across the ocean! Melissa was originally from the South American country of Guyana, and Michael was the first Chinese person I had ever met.
I felt happy that day. I couldn’t wait to see them again and to hear more about the programme they were planning! Over the weeks they stayed in Sogakope, we began to get to know them, and they began to get to know us. They revealed what they were preparing for: the arrival in August of thirteen British students to Ghana!
In May, Melissa and Michael flew back to Kingston, and I was sad because I wanted those kind people to be with me still. But they would be back in a few months!
The Director of YCC gave us the overview of the U.K.-Ghana student exchange programme that would be held in August, and then his voice became serious. “Unfortunately,” he said, “we do not have space for all of you to participate. This means,” the Director continued, “you must work very hard in school if you want a chance of being selected!” Then and there I decided: I would do my best in school every day so I would be picked!
In July we were interviewed for the programme. We were nervous! On the thirtieth of July, the results were declared. Because of my hard work and leadership in school, I was selected for the U.K.-Ghana Cross-Culture Exchange!
“WOO!!!” I hollered in happiness. That day was full of joy in my heart.
On Sunday, we were asked to bring our luggage at five in the morning the next day, and when we showed up, we were sent two hours from Sogakope to Accra to meet the newly-arrived students from Kingston, U.K.!
At that fateful moment when our new British friends arrived, we observed: they were tall, but we were short! I spotted Melissa again with Michael, and I was happy once more. We were given our Cross-Culture partners one by one, and when they mentioned my name, I was guessing: “Which one of these tall youths will be my partner?”
The name “Aylon” was called for me! Aylon stepped out of the group and I said to him, “Hi! Nice to meet you!” He welcomed me nicely and I was happy. We sat on a chair and introduced ourselves.
As the three-week exchange program went on, I made friends with all the other Kingston partners. We shared educational touring experiences, volunteered in our community together, and taught each other many different topics. We went to historical parts of Ghana that I had never had the chance to see before: Kakum National Park, the Cape Coast Castle, Independence Square in Accra, and other wonderful places.
We both shared our cultures and experiences: Ghana students to Kingston students, and Kingston students to Ghana students. We learned so much from each other. We displayed African Dance for our Kingston friends! I think maybe you would feel like witnessing our dance, it was so good. We drummed while we danced!
On the twenty-second of August, the Kingston group flew back across the ocean to London. Everybody felt sad. But we were told that in August of 2010, we Ghanaian students would be visiting our Kingston friends in the United Kingdom for the second half of our project! This programme is a long-term programme.
We are now raising funds to cover the expenses of our upcoming journey to London, and we are meeting three hours a week or more for a Cross-Culture class to make sure we are prepared in every way to make the most of this experience.
This Cross-Culture exchange is the best programme I have experienced in my whole life. The whole project was like, “WOO!!” I realise fully what the programme wants the youth taking part in it to achieve: Its aim is to inspire youth to create a positive change in our communities. I believe we will!
Dear reader: I would be so glad if you would help support us in the second half of this amazing educational exchange.
Lillie’s Note: Nelson’s passion for this Cross-Culture exchange really shines through! Please do leave him a comment, specifying your geographical location.
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!