Akwaaba was the first word I heard after landing in the beautiful country of Ghana. It means "Welcome" in Fante, one of the many languages spoken throughout the country, and in the first moments of arriving I truly felt welcomed.
As a child I was fascinated by the resilience of the human spirit and the ability of humans to persevere and overcome the most tragic events. After learning about the Holocaust, the numerous wars throughout the world and witnessing the effect of natural disasters and terror attacks on those around me I searched for ways to assist those deeply affected by these events. From a young age I knew that my career would involve assisting those throughout the world affected by the most devastating events. In college my passion for assisting those in need intensified as I explored the political, psychological and sociological aspects of human interactions and examined the history and patterns of humanitarian disasters. My passion led me to conduct and independent study on the psychology of genocide. I decided to compare the Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide through the examination of the psychological techniques the genocidaires used to encourage ordinary citizens to commit the most heinous acts against their neighbors. It was after conducting this research that I knew I wanted a career in the field protecting the rights of humans throughout the world. Nothing is more rewarding than working directly with the people who need your assistance and learning about the country and the culture. I searched for every opportunity to travel abroad to volunteer and was very fortunate to volunteer in Latin America twice, but I always dreamed that I would one day find myself working in Africa. As I child I read numerous accounts of war-torn African nations, the survival stories of child soldiers and the memories of a culture rich in tradition and history. These stories made me feel connected to the people of Africa. Although we are from two different continents, different races and different backgrounds, I felt the pain of the children telling their stories and wish to protect others from suffering the same fate.
I am grateful to have finally arrived in Africa to assist in the protection and education of human rights in Ghana and hope that this is just the beginning of my work in this field. I am excited for the challenging, yet rewarding experience that lies ahead and am eager to learn about the Ghanaian legal system and culture. It is with the support of many loved ones and the amazing faculty at William and Mary Law that I am able to embark on this once in a lifetime opportunityand hope to follow in their footsteps in making a positive difference in the field of international human rights law.
First Glimpse of Ghana