Friday, January 30, 2009

Let's get Physical

Today I had my physical; it’s safe to say that my doctor now knows me on a very intimate level, Yikes! I had filled in the information beforehand, but I had negated to read the medical examiner portion of the forms. So I found it odd when the nurse told me to change into a medical robe. Waiting in the doctor’s office (it always seems like forever), I looked over the medical examiner section of the forms. I figured I would brace myself for the evitable, that’s when I saw the word every man fears, “rectal”. I had no idea this was part of the physical! I had only braced myself for a worst case scenario of “turn and cough.” Immediately I began to panic, I tried to think of excuses (maybe I could txt a friend to call me in 10 min and pretend a family member had died), I contemplated leaving the beyond borders program, more then anything else I was grateful I took a shower that morning! Anyway, without getting into any details, I endured the examination. I am not going to lie to you, the whole physical part of the physical, was more than a little awkward, however not as bad as it could have been/how I imagined it. I don’t know what that portion of the examination has to do with me teaching in Ghana, but I guess awkward physicals are a part of growing up (this experience making me about 35!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lions! and Tigers! and AIDS! oh my!

As a child, Africa was held above my head like the empty threat of corporal punishment. My mother would say things like, “You should eat all your vegetables because there are starving children in Africa who would love to eat them!” Almost as if I was under the threat of hungry Africans eating my dessert before I had the chance to. I also remember my father saying things like “fine, if you don’t like the gift, we’ll just pack it up and send it to Africa!” In fact, throughout my whole life there has the empty threat of Africans taking my privilege away.
Looking back on, I don’t think I saw Africans, Africa, or individual African countries as being different things. Africa was a place that hungered for everything that I had; it was a desert place full of war, decease, and pot-bellied children. Of course as I have grown up I have realized that these notions do not encapsulate the gambit of African countries and people. Still, as with most of the sleighed dragons of my past, it’s planted teeth still linger where my experience is in short supply.
While I do not want to admit it, some part of me still views Africa as a singular entity of warning. Almost like the cracked egg in those “this is your brain on drugs” commercial. Like if I don’t do my homework, eat my vegetables, and say my prayers ... puff, I’ll wake up to discover I’ve been transformed into a African. I feel that this notion has presided in me for this long because I’ve never really looked at Africa as a real place. I have always viewed Africa as a metaphor, kind of like the notion of hell. In all honesty it is hard for me to picture; romance, celebration, and silliness, in Africa. For its only been presented to me as a place of; child sponsor commercials, genocides, and starvation. I hope that by going to Ghana i will see more than the; lion, tigers, and AIDS oh my. I hope I see things that show me Africa is not only about death and survival. I hope I see kids being dumb, chewing gum, colourful clothing, and other useless things.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Intimacy Without Borders

To be honest, not all of my motivations to participate in Beyond Borders are benevolent. There is a part of me that signed up for this program to make myself look better. Don’t get me wrong, that is not my sole motivation, but it is there. I’ve done a lot of good works in my life; I’ve volunteered with mentally handicapped children, I led a camp for kids with visual impairments, and last summer I even ran a church. That being said I have a tendency to devalue these experiences by frequently bringing them up in conversation. After all, nothing says “I’m a nice guy” like saying “I ran a church.” Don’t get me wrong, that was not the only reason I ran a church, but it was there. Truth be told, I don’t like that aspect of myself. Once in a blue moon I see a person who serves without anticipating some form of kickback, and I fall in love (mostly figuratively, once literally). I believe that man can only show his greatness when no one is looking. This morning while reading the bible I came across a passage that reminded me of my situation;
“So when you give something to a needy person. Do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your father, who sees what you do in private will reward you.” (Mathew 6:2-4)
I find this idea so romantic. It says to me, treat your works as an intimate experience between you and God, and it will become an intimate experience between you and God. Now our beyond borders experience cannot be completely private, we’ve already sent out dozens of letters, and our friends/family will be expecting stories upon our return. That being said however, there will come a time during our placements where we will do something truly great. Something that we are so proud of that it burns like secret in our mouths. I challenge you though to keep that moment as a truly private moment. Tell people of your trip, your experiences, of your joys and challenges, but keep that one moment of excellence between you and God.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Here we go again on my own

My name is John, and I will be spending the summer of 2009 in Ghana. I will be teaching (English?) there for three months. I have received this opportunity through participating in a program called Beyond Borders. Beyond Borders is a program ran through St. Jerome’s University (with partnership with Intercordia Canada).
I have never written a blog before, I am unsure as to how I should write on here, to complicate things some of my course mark is based off of these blogs, so here goes nothing. I have been requested to write about my research about Ghana (political situation, geography, that sort of thing), my experiences of preparing to leave to Ghana, and hopefully my experiences in Ghana. I hope to learn a myriad of things through this experience (learning to write a blog not the least of these things). I Don’t know what await me but I invite you to stay tuned and find out.

Testing 1,2,3

Hello, i have never made a blog before so it seems fitting that the first is titled "testing 1,2,3." Anyway, i hope this works.