The Identity Issue: Teen Shares the Joy and Pain in His Life-Changing Visit to Ghana

Toca Magazine's Kid's-Eye-View project helps adults see the world through the eyes of kids.

Parker Barry

Justin Walton

Age: 14

Hometown: Oakland, California

This summer I had a life-changing experience that I will never forget: I took a trip to Ghana for two weeks. I experienced a range of emotions, from extreme happiness to sadness and confusion. I came back a new person.

Nerves give way to amazement

When I first found out I had the opportunity to travel back to the Motherland, I was excited but very nervous. I’d never been 7,000 miles away from home — or even out of the country before. As it got closer and closer it finally hit me: I was really going to Africa! That nervousness suddenly went away.

It felt like home.

When we landed in Ghana I was amazed. It felt like home. After a three-hour bus ride we arrived at our resort, where we were greeted with a “welcome home” song. Everyone danced and had a good time. It was beautiful.


A mix of emotions

We had a packed itinerary, with a new adventure each day. We went to markets, the slave dungeon of Elmina Castle, and the “Slave River” where captured humans had their last bath before they were taken from Africa. We had classes at a university, performed at a graduation, went to a village on stilts, went to a ceremony, and visited kids from different villages.


Each day I experienced a number of different emotions. For instance, when I was interacting with the kids, I was extremely happy — all I had was a smile on my face. But when I went to the slave dungeon and the last bath, a whole bunch of emotions came out. I was angry, sad, and confused.

When I was interacting with the kids, I was extremely happy.

When I was walking through the slave dungeon, I became extremely angry: I could not believe that my ancestors went through so much pain and grief. I was disgusted that people would subject other people to such suffering because of racism and greed.

When I went to the last bath I was amazed! Putting my hands in the water — knowing that my ancestors took their last bath there — was mind blowing. I had goose bumps all up my arms. It was an experience I will never forget.

When I was walking through the slave dungeon, I became extremely angry.

A new person

justin_ghana_womanGoing to Africa completely changed my life. You could even say I came back a completely new person. I’ve learned how to be more open-minded and self-sufficient, and I came back being more educated about my roots.

I feel like every African-American should go back to the Motherland and learn more about where we came from. A lot of our history is hidden from us in America, so we need to be the ones who are motivated to learn about ourselves.

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

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