Mikaela Cumbers - Advocate for Africa (Gold Award)
I had always wanted to go to Ghana- ever since I was in the first year at Plymouth High, and learnt about our link with Sekondi Takoradi. I'd always told myself "When I get into the 6th form, I want to go to Ghana."
5 years later, when the time actually came to apply to go on the trip. I was a little worried, as the trip was advertised to us as a A Level Geography and Science trip. I took neither subject. I was a Film/English/Music student, with no good understanding of GCSE Geography, let alone A Level Geography, and only a basic level of either Biology and Chemistry and close to zero understanding of Physics (which is really just Mathematics disguised as something else, and Mathematics and myself are not and never have been on speaking terms).
So when it came to speaking to Pat Frean, I'm fairly sure I sounded like a dodgy salesman, telling her that I didn't do either subject mentioned in the title of the trip, but that I was really interested in the link, and had always wanted to go. In the end, she allowed me on the trip as their media student- documenting the trip with photographs and video recordings.
Ghana took everything I had imagined about it, screwed it up threw it in the bin, then showed me something far better.
Being there on the trip with the other students, not only did my geography and science skills get a good upgrade, we learnt to adapt to the Ghanaian culture, and realised how westernised we really were. The ironic reality of the trip was that although we went over there to learn together with the Ghanian students, they taught us so much more, with so very little.
Leaving Ghana was painful. But we had to leave, in order to come back as the new people we had become while we were away.
We came back with more than just a better geographic knowledge of Ghana, but with a better understanding of the world and what it meant to be a citizen of it.
We came back with friends for life, and dreams of going back.
Coming back home, I wouldn't shut up to my parents about how 'amazing' the trip had been. Funnily enough, I couldn't really elaborate on it. I found out later that it was the same for the other students- it was something that we experienced together, and because of it, had no words good enough to really describe what we'd gone through.
Becoming an Advocate for Africa really is something that I'm happy to be proud about. It gives me the motivation to further strengthen the link that we have with Ghana, and also more determination to go again.