Sunday, October 6, 2013

The America I came to, three months away from home

On Columbia University campus.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

I have not written on my blog for a long time now. While I still can't find time due to the heavy load of academic work, I am going an extra mile this Sunday evening to write something. Something I believe you will enjoy reading and probably learn something from.

As I was growing up, I have always wanted to travel around the world - probably a dream I have just like most children do, and this dream might have been influenced by what we read in books or see on TV. And as much as that was a big ambition, it was a far away dream for someone like me. That was almost an impossibility, a mirage. Meanwhile, I have been told several times that I have a bright future, but the realities of my circumstances made that future dim.

My dream of travelling around the world took a long time to come, while I have had the opportunity to travel around the 10 regions of Ghana reporting on issues from the environment, women and children.

The realities around me almost made my hopes of travelling around the world a pipe dream.

There were times when I have vacillated between very high optimism and the very low ebbs of despair and despondency. There were times in my life that I have almost given up. Moreso, because I have chosen a profession that in my country is often rewarded only when you do it wrong. The only way I have been repeatedly told I could 'succeed' as a journalist is not to tell the truth, not to expose wrongdoing by powerful people, and to accept bribes in various forms. There are many 'journalists' who have 'succeeded' that way, by receiving bribes from corrupt politicians and crooked business people and cronies of people in power.

I have not made money from journalism yet, but the most elating experiences of my career in more than the two decades of practice were not when I have made any material gains but moments when I have alerted the public to danger, dug out and shared useful information and broke some news ahead of others. I have not made money from journalism, but I have kept faith with the profession and it appears the profession is keeping faith with me, no matter how long it took - my patience and endurance are paying off - and some of this characteristics I owe to my Late mother. May her soul continue to rest in peace. She has always told me to be patient. I was a hot-headed little boy, impatient at everything and everyone around me. I am glad I listened to her.
I have continued to do journalism even though I have had opportunities to switch to other careers. There is nothing I love more than writing. And indeed, the fact that journalism has the ability to do good, to speak for the downtrodden and voiceless; groups that I have a strong affinity with, probably because of my background growing up in challenging circumstances.

Today, as I write this blog, I am living in New York City, 'The Big Apple'. And I am beginning to realise that living in New York City is every American's dream."It's the place to be", someone had told me. This makes me feel lucky or even blessed.

Besides, I am not only living in New York City but studying at Columbia University, an Ivy League institution rated this year as the World's 10th Best University.

Coming to America after a whirlwind travel around the world in the last two years has been a real big change. A change for the better, I hope and an indication that 'A prophet is not honoured by his own people'. I have mostly felt mistreated and unappreciated in my own country, in spite of the evidence of my contributions to the country's good at my own expense.

In the last three months that I have been living and studying in America, I have come face-to-face with the realities that confront humans everywhere. Despite travelling around the world and meeting different people in different cultures I am still dealing with culture shock in America - details of which I would write about at a latter date.

I am having issues with the food. At one point I almost threw up in class soon after lunch and that has compelled me to do my own cooking at home these days. I eat less outside.

But more importantly, since coming to Columbia I have made some great friends, people around whom I feel very comfortable and happy to be with. My colleagues in the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship and some Cluster mates at the Columbia Business School. There are other really amazing people outside my cluster who have made me feel welcome. Some of the professors and staff of Columbia make life so easy for me.

There are these special people who have made me to feel like I was family and I can't help but mention them, the Maxwells - Dan, Joyce and their children, Patrick and Clare. I spent a weekend with the Maxwells in Boston. There are also Karen Dean and her husband Nathan Waxman who hosted me for two weeks at their apartment before I moved to campus.

I am not done yet with my transition into American society, one academic year looks like a long time, and it has only been three months.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations emma. I hope u enjoy your time at colombia to the max ... u have joined an elite few like nana ohene ntow and nana yaa ofori atta as well as many alumni of grr8 colombia university. Dumsor ville is waiting for u ... lol dzifa bampoh