Volunteer Abroad - Benin, Volunteer Abroad Programs

Ten Things I Learned in Benin

by Morgann Lyles, Greenheart Travel Volunteer Abroad Participant in Benin

Did you miss me? Well, I arrived home safely from my West African adventure, but I almost immediately went on vacation with my family in Hawaii. That means my internal clock was forced to shift backwards in time by 11 hours in less than a week! But I’m not complaining. Though I don’t recommend such a quick turnaround, I had a blast in Maui, which is why I’m just now writing this blog. So, based on my month in Benin, here are some things I learned:

Me in my custom-made outfit with my host family, which was somewhat distracted by my sister Merveille’s tears. She didn’t want me to leave.

1. There is nothing in the world like a cold bottle of water.

2. Start every day with adventure in mind. Never expect the same old routine! Sometimes a change of plan presents an amazing, new opportunity.

3. A smile, a handshake, and a kind word can be the best medicine, even when you don’t speak the same language.

4. Ask lots of questions! How else will you learn? You may provide fuel for a storyteller’s fire.

5. Not all black-skinned people are the same. Though black Americans share roots with black Africans, that voyage across the ocean made a big difference.

6. Dress the part. If everyone is wearing African fabrics, don’t rock the boat!

7. Britney Spears can have the same status as the Virgin Mary in a household.

8. Though endless courtship may be flattering at first, it gets old rather quickly. Making up a “special someone” back home can come in handy.

9. Don’t be afraid to try new and unfamiliar dishes. Rabbit is actually quite tasty. (Sorry to those with cute furry bunnies in their laps.)

10. “Dieu est grand” or “God is big.” This was kind of the slogan of Benin. And I believe it!

So there you have it. My journey is complete. I’d like to thank Greenheart Travel and SYTO Benin for making this such a memorable experience. If you ever have the chance to visit West Africa, do it! And for my fellow French students out there, don’t forget Ronsard’s mantra:  Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

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