The event ended with the two groups of pen-pals meeting on stage. Everyone involved played along like good sports despite the language barrier between the two groups. Inspired by the initial performance, my students insisted on dancing for their new American friends. They all clapped and laughed along as a few key students took the spotlight for a few minutes. To end the day, my students told me they wanted to sing for the group as well. So without needing more than the go-ahead from me, my student’s busted out the one English song they all knew: Nas’ “I Can.” Wofa was clearly shocked to hear the opening phrases of a dated hip-hop song come from my students with confidence.
“I know, I can
Be what I want to be,
If I work hard at it,
I’ll be where I want to be!”
-Nas “I Can”
Even though the group had to rush back to Conakry before losing the daylight, I got to see Wofa once more the next week at a special performance at the American Ambassador’s house. I was pretty shocked to get such a special invite, but also I was happy that I’d get to pass off the newest batch of letters in person. After watching their set for a second time, I got a chance to chat with Wofa a little more. I spent the better part of the evening talking with the group and the one thing I could not get out of my head was the realization that I was nowhere near this cool when I was in high school. I definitely did not have the guts to fly off to Africa let alone dance, sing, and drum while interpreting hand signals accompanied by phrases in Sussu. I was quite impressed.
I never got a great opportunity to thank Wofa for their willingness and courage to visit a random Peace Corps volunteer. Thanks Wofa, you’ve truly made memories for my students, for my village and most of all for me. I nu wali.