When Lydia, Emily, Ann Elise, Jeneni and I landed in Washington DC in June 2013, we were varying degrees of ecstatic. I was flattered to be chosen for YES. I was full of questions about Ghana. Fortunately, we had the lovely Jamirah to help us understand what to expect and how to handle Ghana.
I don’t think I realized how much I appreciated Jamirah until we were reunited in Ghana. For me, the experience of landing was stressful. I had just finished the longest plane ride of my life, and entered the noisiest place I’d ever seen. Someone tried to carry my luggage for me, and I was so exhausted and shell-shocked I almost let him. I felt like I was in a haze, wandering through a dream. Trouble was, we were in the middle of a busy airport, where you need to be on your toes. When we finally arrived at the AFS bus, Jamirah was there to greet us. My heart soared to see a familiar face in a strange land. I felt safe amid my bizarre surroundings.
In Kumasi, Jamirah was always there for us. We went through some bumps as we adjusted to our surroundings, and Jamirah was willing to help us process them. On perhaps the lowest moment of my year, when Morgan Lide passed away, Jamirah calmed me down and enabled me to continue with a good attitude.
Jamirah and other YES alumni play a special role in the life of YES Abroad students. They understand the transitions we go through because they have lived it themselves. I was able to visit Ghana again in 2014 (see: www.enlivenmamaafrica.blogspot.com). When I returned, my visit with Jamirah was one of the highlights. She connected me with Ghanaian students interested in my project. I learned how much she does for exchange students, and I am impressed by her hard work.
One thing that strikes me about Jamirah is her sense of humor. During my year in Ghana, she could make me laugh at anything. To live in Ghana, you must have the ability to laugh. Also, Jamirah puts incredible energy into her interactions with people. I find that inspiring.
I am so glad to know Jamirah.