Finding the Woman In a Girl

Write a personal narrative about an event that changed you.

I watched in admiration as the gentleman in front of me hoisted my fifty-three pound backpack onto his head and began nonchalantly hiking over jagged rock, leading me through the village of Dogbadzi, Togo, where I would live for the next two weeks. The rest of my group had already been given their home assignments, and I now saw only their bright white skin ahead against the red sand of the mountain. Told to wear a long skirt, I had to divert my attention to my feet in order to avoid tripping over the dragging cloth. When at last I glanced upward, I was surrounded by several hundred Togolese who scrutinized my every move. I turned my gaze upward, searching for the base of my mustard backpack. Startled, I immediately felt the strong grip of a man's arms around my waist, an elderly, emaciated fellow with a silver beard falling to the middle of his chest, who was apparently intoxicated. He mumbled several words in Ewe, the local vernacular, which I could hardly comprehend. Attempting to be polite and urbane, I grinned and responded "Oui, Oui," concealing my trepidation. I was at once inundated with widened eyes and Ohs and Ahs coming out of the throng as each native patted my shoulder. I later found out that I had,...

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