Thursday, July 16, 2015


I dated a guy during college who told me once that he does not think he is privileged.
I stood in front of this heterosexual, white, American male in the process of completing his university education, and just gaped.

I think a lot about privilege when I am in Ghana.
The obvious comes to mind: I grew up in a spacious suburban home with two parents who read and sang to me, gave me a private school education, and saved for my college education before I even had a name. People have asked me for as long as I can remember what I want to be when I grow up, and I have always known that the answer was only dependent on the conclusion of my own judgment.
I have had everything I needed and many of things I wanted my entire life.

But there are other types of privilege.

In this dusty, hot, often uncomfortable environment, I find myself feeling fortunate even over the smallest things. Sleeping in a room with a fan - which only happens when I visit Karina and the others in Dzodze - as one example. Enjoying a quiet cup of instant coffee with condensed milk before my busy day starts and I have to start fielding the inevitable attention I attract simply walking down the street. A piece of ripe mango.
It's easier for me to maintain a mindset of gratitude, to feel rich in even the smallest things, on this side of the ocean.

And my personal favorite type of privilege: The incredible opportunity I have to work with all the people this non-profit endeavor has brought to me. SSF is growing; in our upcoming election we have enough candidates to potentially put our Board of Directors at it's full capacity of five members, and to put the Advisory Council from it's current 6 members to 10 filled seats out of the possible 20. Not that the number in itself is indicative of anything. What's amazing about it though is that all the people seeking active seats in our foundation are impressive and likable and talented in so many ways.
Even as I slowly (slowly) learn to have confidence in the gifts I myself have to offer our organization, I am no less impressed by those of my teammates. They are experts in education, business, technology, fundraising, law, medicine, and dreaming big. The fact that I have ended up as their spokesperson constantly amazes me.

Few people have the opportunity to work with and learn from such a diverse group in a collaborative effort like this. I have had the chance to grow through my relationships with them in ways that might never have happened otherwise.
At the end of each day, when I again have the opportunity to take the rare quiet moment to myself, that is a source of privilege that continues to stand out.

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