Announcing the Fly High Scholarship Winner: Hayley Hawkins

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Let's Save Some Dough  

Flight Network is proud to announce the winner of the 2015 Fly High Scholarship, Hayley Hawkins of the University of Louisville. Her entry on her experience in Ghana can be read below.

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In the fall of 2011, I lived on a ship for four months that circumnavigated the globe. You read that right, it’s a real thing. I went on Semester at Sea, a study abroad program sponsored by the University of Virginia, the time of my life. SAS is a traveling campus that holds about four hundred students and four hundred staff each semester, hitting around thirteen countries each voyage. We started in Canada, then went to Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, Vietnam, India, China, Malaysia, Japan, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, Honduras, then ended in Florida.

One of my most memorable travel experiences from this voyage was the five days spent in Ghana, with Can Do Land Tours, along with about twelve other SAS students. The tour company was a small grassroots friend-owned company that was truly passionate about showing off their country in an authentic way.

Fred was our main tour guide, and we stayed in his actual village the entire five days, in little huts overlooking the green lush mountains surrounded by fog and tiny houses. We ate lots of red red, a traditional dish consisting of rice and beans, made by Fred’s mom. All of our food was cooked in front of us by someone in the village. We tried their native wine and deserts as well.

One morning we went on a hike to a beautiful waterfall. I will never forget that hike because I was about 90% sure I was going to die. It was wet, muddy, and an almost straight-down steep hill for a while. We were all holding on to each other, helping each other, screaming, laughing, and using the thick tree vines to slowly move down the hills. It took about an hour and we finally arrived to a lovely waterfall where we all took pictures and laughed about how hard the hike was for us and how much of a stroll it was for our entertained tour guides. I was sore for days and it was amazing.

One night during these five days, we enjoyed a village dance and drumming show. We all sat in the dust in a circle, while the village families, all ages, drummed, sang, and danced for us in the middle. Children were wandering around, sitting in the students laps while we watched. Their voices and the beats of the African drums were so raw and real, full of pain and joy. They invited us to dance at the end, and that was a blast! They tried to teach us some of their break-dancing moves.

On another morning, we got to participate in service learning, which was so rewarding and special. We went to the local school and worked with the children for a few hours. We could teach them whatever we wanted. We taught them to sing amazing grace, work out simple math equations, and played games outside. They taught us one of their native songs as well.

The entire Ghanaian trip was full of dirt, discomfort, delicious food, children, lack of technology, nature, and witnessing first hand Ghanaian culture. Yes, people were poor, but everyone had this joyful spirit and openness about them. I never once felt sorry for these people for a second. I actually felt envy at some points, for their life filled with sun and nature and community and lovingness to one another.

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