An open letter to my parents

There’s about an hour left until I land in Amsterdam and 9 hours until my next flight to Accra. This leg of the trip has generally been pleasant. There are only two of us in our row meaning I’ve had room to stretch out and be more liberal about the space I take up. Seven hours honestly seems like nothing once you’ve done the 13+ hour flight to Asia. It’s like a movie, a short nap, and a good read, or some journaling in my case, and wa-lah! You’ve arrived! I don’t know about you guys, but face to face communication has never been a great strength in my family so I’ve decided to spend the time I have left on this flight to write my parents a letter that hopefully sheds a bit more light on this next phase in my life.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know the past few months have been worrying to you. Ever since I made the decision to spend my Fall semester at the University of Ghana-Legon in Ghana’s capital Accra, I know that you both have been frankly, scared of your minds. Never in your life did you probably ever expect to have to drop your daughter off at the airport for her flight to Ghana. In fact, it’d probably never crossed your mind that I would want to go to Ghana, or Africa in general, which is also probably why it’s hard for you to be at peace with this choice that I’ve made or know how to explain my thinking to family and friends. To be honest, I don’t know where I got this idea either. Venturing to Africa certainly wasn’t at the forefront of my thinking back in high school.

Maybe it’s stupid, but at the heart of it, I think it’s about self-discovery, pushing myself close to breaking, and finding out just exactly who I can be. You’ve always worked hard to give me a life of comfort. Though sure there were times when I wished you would’ve bought me a Ninendo DS or taken the family on a trip that wasn’t to China, I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever lacked anything that I needed in my life. Even at twenty and perfectly capable, dad you still insisted on driving over 16 hours within a 48 hour period to help me move out of my dorm while mom also tries to surprise visit me on my birthday, and I’m incredibly thankful to have parents like both of you. But at twenty, my young naïve self yearns to reject life in the comfort zone and instead, go out and see the world. I just regret that this means leaving your hearts in constant anxiety over how I’m faring abroad and if I’m safe or not. But ironically, it’s because of you guys that all of the unknowns about life in Ghana seem much less scary. Indubitably, there will be times when yes the heat in Ghana will make me want to go crazy and I’ll be complaining your ears off about the baseball size bug bites all over my body or about how much I miss mom’s home cooking, but I know that I’ll overcome it because you guys overcame everything too when you came to the US. And I think that it’s all for the better and in five months, I’ll come back a better person with a better understanding for having gone through with this.

I know that I’ll never be able to placate your worries fully because that’s just what you do as parents, I just ask that you trust me to make the right decisions because that’s all either of us can do at this point. Trust that everything you’ve taught me growing up has stuck. Sure sometimes I forget to floss or wash the dishes in an acceptable time span by mom’s standards, but trust that I will remember all the important things like being aware of my surroundings, never accidentally becoming a drug trafficker, and always taking care of my friends. J Ultimately, there are so many unknowns that exist and situations that we can never fully prepare ourselves to encounter, so just trust me to do the right thing always.

Remember, five months is only 143 malaria pills away!


Your stubborn daughter Linda


One thought on “An open letter to my parents

  1. Thank you for posting your letter! I’m leaving for Ghana tomorrow, to go to a small village, and my parents have had the same fears. Your post articulated some of the same things I have experienced. Good luck with your studies and enjoy your experience!

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