Saturday, April 30, 2011

Even Closer

Today is our second of two reading days at L&C. Reading days are days when there are no classes or finals. While I am not happy that one of our reading days is on as Saturday, I am using the day to the best of my advantage anyways. Of course, that means that I am...yepp, you guessed it...at Starbucks again. Unfortunately I am so beyond exhausted today that I am not proving to be as productive as I hoped I would be. Three more days and my academic work will be 100% completed and turned in. 9pm on Tuesday night is the time at which I will officially be free. Then I get to put all my time and effort towards something much more fun -- packing!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

So close

Today was my last day of class EVER!!!! I honestly do not intend on continuing my education beyond this point so any lecture I sit in from this point forward is because I want to, not because I have to. Its crazy how long I have been waiting for this day to come. There have been way too many instances throughout these past 4 years where I have just been ready to give up, ready to drop out, and not turn back. But now, I am just 10 days away from graduation. I am ready to give up right now, sitting in the library at 10pm, working on a paper that is due tomorrow, knowing that I will be up practically all night, if not all night. But I am so close. I CAN NOT give up now. I keep asking myself: If I give up now, then what has all of this hard work, dedication, and energy that I have dedicated to school been for? I can do this. I know I can. I might hate it right now but I know that I need to finish this journey. I know the importance of my education and that is why, even when times were tough, I stuck it out and am still here at LC. So, back to work on this essay I shall go. I will succeed. I know I can.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Today was a good day. No, a GREAT day!

In January, I came back from Winter Break early in order to attend my school's Senior Survival Seminar. I attended this seminar in order to receive much needed help on resume and to get tips and ideas about how to find a job. One of the biggest things that was stressed at this seminar was the importance of networking. Due to the fact that I was looking for a job across the world when I was still in Portland made the job search even more difficult for me and meant that I, more than others, really needed to focus on the networking piece of the job search. So, I networked...for months....and months...and months. Okay, fine, it really was only like 3.5 months but it felt like forever. I wrote to every single person that I knew in Ghana and asked for help. I received a little help this way but the big thing that really contributed to my networking was joining Ghana expat sites. I previously had no clue that these websites existed and had no idea how helpful the people that I met on them would be. I have talked to many American, European, and other expats in Ghana and already have plans to meet some of these people upon my arrival in Ghana, which is super exciting. It is like I already have a community in Ghana even though I am not there yet.  :)

So, I talked to people on these websites, posted inquiries about job openings, and contacted every and anyone who would talk to me. In addition, I continued to submit job applications to job postings on two different Ghanaian Job databases. I submitted probably 10-15 applications this way and heard NOTHING. To say that it was frustrating was an understatement. At a point, I just wanted to get rejected from some of these jobs so that I knew that my application was actually received and reviewed. Instead, I felt like the emails I sent were lost in cyberspace.

Well, today, all that networking finally paid off. I was offered a job working in a pre-school and I ACCEPTED! I could not be happier about this. I had been applying for office jobs because I was not qualified to apply for any of the educational jobs posted on the job databases but honestly I did not want to sit in an office all day. I love working with kids and this is SO perfect for me -- I couldn't ask for anything better. And it is even better because Alex and I actually have a place to live in Accra as well. Now, the only thing I am waiting for is for Alex to find a job. I know that he is working hard at it and I have faith that he will find something soon. I mean, everything else has worked out -- yes, it has required much time and effort, but it has worked out. Oh, and the other thing I am waiting for is for these next two weeks to fly by so I can officially become a college graduate, go home, spend time with my family, and pack for this adventure!

Lewis & Clark's Presidents Award for Outstanding Community Engagement

Yes, that is the award which I received tonight from 3CE, Lewis & Clark College's Community and Civic Engagement Center for my community service work both on campus and in Ghana. Although I do not participate in service to receive awards such as this one, it is nice to be recognized every once in awhile for the hard work and dedication that I have put in to the various clubs, organizations, and projects that I have been a part of. Here is part of the speech that I read upon receiving this prestigious award which is only awarded to one junior or senior each year:

As this is my senior year here at Lewis & Clark, I have recently spent a lot of time reflecting on these past four years and my experiences here. Yes, Lewis & Clark has shaped the person I am today. Yes, Lewis & Clark has provided me with opportunities to make new friends and connect with amazing faculty and staff members. And yes, Lewis & Clark has helped me become a brighter, more intelligent individual. All of these things are essential, but in my eyes, the most important thing that Lewis & Clark has provided me with has been the encouragement and support to follow my passion and continue to give back to the community that I fell in love with in Ghana, West Africa. 
It’s amazing how much that first trip to Ghana, during the summer of 2008, changed my life. I left Los Angeles simply wanting to volunteer in Africa. I was told that I would be working at an orphanage that was made up of a classroom and shaded courtroom and served 150 children between 2 and 10 years old. I had absolutely no idea how much these children would impact me and change my life.
On my first day volunteering at Christ Orphanage, I arrived to 150 children running towards me, giving me hugs, begging to be picked up, and asking my name. Approximately 30 of these children were orphans, while the remaining 120 children came from underprivileged homes. Christ Orphanage served as a school for these children and ensured that they received education, food, and health care.
During my two-month stay in Ghana, I realized that although many of the people I was interacting with were not financially rich, they were extremely rich in other ways. I was in awe of the strong community and family bonds that I witnessed, the dedication to cultural practices and traditions, and the genuine happiness that I saw on a daily basis, despite the fact that these people lacked many basic things such as running water and electricity.
Although I admired the way that these people lived, I also realized that material items can be an essential contributor to children’s education. The orphanage lacked basic educational materials such as pencils, paper, and crayons so I donated all of the educational supplies that I brought from home as well as items that I purchased in the country to the orphanage. Hard to miss was the fact that the class that I was to teach, a class of twenty five kindergartners contained nothing besides a few wooden benches, a dusty chalkboard, four brick walls, and of course, the children. I realized that the supplies I purchased for the children to use would only last a few months at the most. I wanted to do something to continuously assist the orphanage. With the help of my friends and family, we were able to provide Christ Orphanage with four computers and a printer before I even left the country.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

GoodSearch

Have you added the GoodSearch toolbar to your browser? If not, do it now. If you designate The Ghana Project as your charity, we will earn money for Christ Orphanage every time you use the search bar or make an online purchase. It is super easy and only takes a minute to install. Last year, we raised $277.43 from GoodSearch for the children in Ghana. So far this year, we have raised less than $1. Lets get to work on this -- its super easy and makes a huge difference in the lives of these children. $277.43 can go a long way! Lets try to match or beat that number this year!! I can't do it without your help though. Add the toolbar by visiting: http://www.goodsearch.com/toolbar/ghana-project-christ-orphanage.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2008 Video

As I prepare to finish school (26 days til graduation) and move to Ghana (40 days), I am thinking about all my experiences there and the reflecting back on all the amazing people I have met in Ghana. Its incredible how I feel so connected to these people who live across the world, on a totally different continent. Its incredible how connected I feel with the children, the children in Wegbe and especially the children at Christ Orphanage. I love them more than anything and CAN'T WAIT to see them next month. I already told Alex that even though we will be living in Accra, one of the first things we need to do is travel the 4 hours to Wegbe so I can see all my babies there. I am super excited for this (well, not for the 4 hour tro tro ride) but, to see the faces I have yearned to see for about 8 months now. I am more than excited to meet Sarah and Saraphine, Cynthia's baby sisters who were born a month or two after I left last year. In addition, between now and the time I arrive in Ghana, Mawuse will also have become a big sister. I am excited to meet this little new addition to Alex's family, his niece/nephew. I know that I still have SO MUCH to do before I leave for Ghana and trying to take advantage of all the time I have left in the States, but it is hard not to think about these people and children who have changed my life and how much I miss them. I missed them so much today that I uploaded the video I made after my first trip to Ghana (summer of 2008) so you can see some more of the faces that changed my life.


The Ghana Project: Christ Orphanage 2008 from Nicole Pampanin on Vimeo.


Friday, April 08, 2011

Some favorite photos




Beautiful Children

These beautiful faces make me smile. 43 days til I get to see these faces again. :)





Beautiful Wegbe

Missing this place and the beautiful sunsets...








Sunday, April 03, 2011

Moving to Ghana in 50 days!

The countdown has been on for awhile now but it just recently started to hit me that I.am.leaving.so.soon. It's crazy. I am super excited but super nervous at the same time. I've been to Ghana so many times, know so many people there, understand the culture and the ways of life but I know that living there will be so much different than just visiting, even the three and a half month long visit. I know that I will experience things that I never had to deal with while just visiting once I move to Ghana. Apartments.Accra.Grocery Shopping.Cooking (ha. I can barely do that here, how am I supposed to cook in Ghana?).Banking.And the list goes on...

When I go to Ghana for visits, I know that I am coming back to the US. I know that I will be coming back this time too, for a visit, but it's different. I don't know when I will be back. Yes, I have a return ticket but I do not know if I am going to try to extend that ticket or possibly not even use it. Who knows? Not knowing when I will be back to the US makes it much more difficult to pack. I don't know when I will be back and able to pick up those necessities/things that I want that are only available here. It's stressful. But I know I can do it. I want to do it. I've wanted to do this for so long. A little less than three years to be exact. And I am so ready (well, I guess, I'll be ready in 35 days after I become a college graduate)!