I have a confession to make. In eighth grade, I was first exposed to a documentary called Invisible Children that exposed the longest running war in Africa with all its atrocities. From that point on, being apart of this organization was my life and passion. I felt so enraged that human beings could be treated as animals and slaves in this day and age. I was a founding member of the club in high school as well as at Bryn Mawr where I hosted many fundraisers and participated in peaceful demonstrations on the behalf of the children of Northern Uganda. However, this past summer after six years of involvement, I came to the realization through divine intervention per se that Invisible Children as an organization had consumed me and made me into a monster. Instead of continually being empowered to help children abducted and forced to fight in a terrible war, I was more concerned with receiving the recognition and glory for my good works. The irony in all this is that the initial spark that created this passion for activism came from this deep belief in human rights. I really started thinking about how this passion is connected to the 360 program when Teresa came to our class and asked us why we were in the class or program. Originally, I applied because I had a passion to help from a position of privilege as well as compassion. However, through the 360 program, I no longer see a single story. I had compassion for children that were used for rape as a weapon of war, but I did not allow myself to see the an amazing culture. I did not learn about the rich cultures being affected by the war and only focused on my good intentions.
Not to be cheesy and sentimental already but I can see how this program has really changed my life already. I feel as though I am working on overcoming these prejudices of Africa, but at the same time, it is all driving me crazy. I feel too cautious because I don't want to offend anyone by admitting to the fact that there are problems in Africa. I would really like to find a balance. I realize that I have a lot of preconceived notions that will not go away right away, but I also want to be unafraid to bring ideas to the table and learn. How do I balance my past good intentions with my new academic perspective? I think this question can be answered through continual exploration and appreciation of African culture as well as specifically Ghanian culture through the trip.