Marquette is alive with activity- NMU students cram every moment of the precious few remaining warm days with biking and hiking and cliffjumping, strolling through the picturesque downtown for coffee at Babycakes or a view of the sailboats spread out across Lower Harbor. The wind is brisk more often than not now, and the trees down 550 are just starting to ignite into a riot of color. Lake Superior hasn't faded to the steel gray it will be for most of the year; it is still a shade of rich, dark blue. Everywhere you turn is yet another view that looks like a postcard.
Here, I am a college student with neon-colored laces in my sneakers, a nosering and a mug of coffee perpetually in hand. My days consist of dragging myself out of bed for my 7 am shift at the group home, and pouncing on my unsuspecting housemates to perform the otoscopies (ear exams) required for my Audiology class. I frequent Black Rocks, a local brewery, and spend most Sundays catching up on homework. The contented humdrum of my routine is no different from that of any number of other college kids in Marquette.
Half a world away, the days are getting hotter. The rainy season has begun, and soon the streets of Awakorme will begin to routinely flood. 300 students at a little school called Success International have started another term. Five days a week they perch in a precarious jumble of splintery desks, scribbling furiously in flimsy notebooks bearing the faces of Hannah Montana or President Obama while Worfa copies another reading lesson onto the blackboard. The palm trees towering over the tiny school building have not changed. The wind rustling their branches still smells like sea salt and onions from the nearby farms. The ocean waves never pause, and neither do the fishermen in their constant rhythm of casting and gathering their massive nets. Sundays, the air is filled with the sound of church services that carry for miles.
I know these things as surely as if they were still happening right outside my window.
But there, I may dress in traditional, bold-patterned cloth, but the skin underneath will always be white. I can braid my hair, but it will still be blond. I may have found a home and a family in Ghana, but there's little chance of me ever passing as a Ghanaian. Although I miss Africa already, there is a certain comfort in being back in a world where I blend in seamlessly.
...Until, of course, someone asks me what I did this summer.