This post was written by Jennifer Sarkodie, an AFS student from Ghana on exchange in Turkey. Jennifer is one of the young deserving students who received the 2016 Investing in Africa’s Future Leaders scholarship to participate in a year-long school exchange program with AFS.
People usually say that language is a system of communication used by a particular group of people. For me as a Ghanaian who is used to speaking English and other local languages, it was really hard to learn the Turkish language. They have additional letters in the alphabet and pronounce each letter very differently.
Generally, my host siblings and my counselor are those who mostly teach me Turkish. For now, I’ll not say I’m very fluent with the Turkish but I’m still learning and I hope by the end of my exchange year, I will be able to have a complete conversation in Turkish.
During my first four months in Turkey, I felt like I was a baby learning how to speak. It was very difficult to speak with Turkish people because most of them did not understand English. I spent most of my time with my host sister and my other AFS friends.
About two months ago, I went to a restaurant with my friends. Next to our table were a group of students who were talking about me. Although I didn’t understand everything they said, I understood some phrases. And they said, “She came to our country because she has nowhere to go and because all black people are poor.” What they said made me really sad, but I gathered courage and went to their table and explained to them that “The fact that there is a black person doesn’t mean that she is poor or homeless.” I also told them that I was an exchange student. I said all of this in Turkish. They were really surprised that I could speak their language. So for me, I think the AFS exchange program is a really good thing. It has helped me a lot.
TEŞEKKÜR EDERİM AFS!