Skip To Main Content
Dr. Miller's Africa Trip-Days 14-16

Dr. Miller's Liberia, Africa Blog

Day 14-16, June 17, 2024

Liberia Finale, The Long Trip Home, Final Reflections

The weekend began like any other days with one exception....RAIN!  I mean HEAVY rain.  When everyone told me it was rainy season in Liberia I thought, ok, it's going to rain.  We really have not experienced a lot of rain on this trip except during the night.  Today was different.  It rained all day and I was glad we did not have any more deliveries to make or sight-seeing to do.  We had basically accomplished everything we set out to do on our list.  Amos arrived in the early afternoon to take us to our new hotel.  The owner of our current hotel, has another Bless One Hotel that is closer to the airport which would help us when it was time to depart.  I had time for one final picture with Mrs. Toe's family member, Monah.  Monah stayed with Mrs. Toe the entire time.  Anytime I would go to Mrs. Toe's room, Monah would make me food or bring me a drink.  She was a super special part of my experience in Liberia and I will miss her.  When we arrived at the new hotel, we found that there were really no other people staying.  The hotel staff opened up the outdoor bar and patio for us and played some really great music.  Mrs. Toe and I were jamming on the pool deck as we reflected on our incredible stay.  The actual trip back home to America was long and one of the most tiring experiences of my life.  Amos dropped us off at the airport around 4:30AM.  I was so sad to see our time with Amos end.  He is another friend I shall never forget.  Many of my Liberian Friends use the WhatsApp app on their phones and this will be a nice way to stay in touch.  It is difficult to use regular text and phone because it costs so much for international messaging.  Starting the departure from the Liberia airport was a very different airport experience for me.  There were at least 5 different checks of items and I was beginning to think there would be no end.  There was a health check to ensure we were Yellow-Fever-free.  We also had to show our immunization cards to prove we were vaccinated for various African diseases.  Throughout my time in Liberia, I took daily Malaria medication.  Malaria is a disease that is spread by mosquitoes.  I never once felt as if I got "bit" by a mosquito or any other bug for that matter but I am glad to have had the medication.  I will continue to take this daily med for another week in the U.S.  We next had to show our passports to the Immigration Officer and state why we were in Liberia.  Next, we moved on to security which looked much like our own airports. Immediately following that however, we had to open up all carry-on luggage and backpacks for a serious inspection.  Once that was complete, I thought we were done but once we got to our gate, there was another inspection of our carry-on luggage and backpacks!  Mrs. Toe and I finally sat down and rested to wait for our first flight of the day.  Our first flight was set for 7AM and we were flying from Liberia to Casablanca, Morocco.  As we boarded, I thought about all of my new friends I had made in Liberia and started to type this final post.  Our flight to Casablanca was scheduled for five hours and when we arrived, I noted that we had moved ahead another hour so now we were five hours ahead of everyone in the U.S. on the eastern coast.  I took some pictures from the plane of Morocco as we were starting our descent.  Morocco is very desert-like and you can tell from the brownish features and landscape on the ground.  When we got off the plane, we saw and met the new Liberia Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sara Nyanti.  We posed for a picture and she was so lovely!  Mrs. Toe and I had a few hours to spare before our last flight.  We got some food and did some shopping.  I was so hungry for pizza and I found a great pizza shop in the airport.  Pizza was one thing I missed while in Liberia.  Although they have pizza, it is not something that you get very often like in America.  When we boarded our second plane of the day, I was already starting to feel the effects of travel.  I knew that very soon we would be back on eastern standard time so I tried to get my body prepared for that.  It is easy to get something called "jet lag" where your body feels out of place and extreme exhaustion can occur.  A usual rule of thumb is that however many hours difference you experienced, equals the number of days it takes to get your body re-regulated.  I am prepared for my body to take four days to get back on schedule.  Before we left Morocco, I took one more picture of my iPhone's home screen which depicted the northern part of Africa.  Our flight back to America over the Atlantic Ocean was set for seven more hours of flight time.  We wore our long compression socks to protect our legs from getting a clot.  Mrs. Toe and I reviewed pictures on the flight home.  I also watched a couple movies on the screen in front of my seat.  As we traveled, we were going "back in time" of sorts since we were gaining back the hours we "lost" when we flew to Liberia.  It was interesting to watch the sky from my window go from dark blue twilight, to light blue early evening.  I took a video of it from my seat as I have never experienced a blue sky like that in my life.  When we landed back in America, I was happy to be home on our continent.  I took a new screenshot of my phone's home screen that showed USA.  Since we gained five hours from Morocco, it was like our flight only took two hours instead of seven but my body was definitely reminding me it was seven hours!  Mrs. Toe and I took a peace picture as we rolled into the terminal and we knew our trip had come to an end.

Final Reflections........

As I reflect on my African experience, I want to share that my "WHY" is and continues to be that I want to inspire my students and community.  My "HOW" is that I try my best to model the behavior and attitude and build the relationships to inspire.  My "WHAT" is that I just so happen to be a principal but in my heart, I will always be a teacher.  This experience has taught me many things that I hope in turn, I have taught you.  

The first is that it is ok to take a risk in order to help others.  Traveling to a foreign country requires a lot of planning and preparation.  Traveling to another continent is a big journey.  My hope is that I have taught those who followed this blog that you can be part of something extraordinary in the name of helping others.  Special thanks to Mrs. Toe for taking me on this trip and always looking out for me.  She is my African "O-Ma" now and we are forever connected.  

The second is we are so fortunate in the U.S. and should never take for granted all that we have.  What I have experienced in Liberia schools was often difficult and emotional for me as a principal of a school in a school district that has any and everything that it needs.  My hope is that I have taught those who followed this blog that little and big things should be appreciated and never wasted.  I will never again look at items I plan to discard in the same way and I hope you too will stop and pause before simply throwing something other than trash away because you never know who could use that item in another place.

The third is that it is possible to build lifelong friendships with those who are thousands of miles away.  The friends that I have met in Liberia are among the most special people I have ever encountered.  I know we will use the tools we have available to stay in touch.  My hope is that I have taught those who followed this blog that it is more than ok to build relationships with people who do not look like you, act like you, or come from the same place as you.  Never be afraid to open yourself to other peoples and cultures.  Opening yourself to other cultures and people is not only something that is possible, but for me, is necessary to truly live on this amazing planet and be the best human I can be.

While I will miss the sights, sounds, smells, colors, and people of Liberia, I am also thankful and relieved to be back home.  I missed my family, friends, loved ones, and of course you, my students families, and community.  I look forward to sharing more about my experiences with you in-person and talking about ways which we can continue to help the good children of Liberia.  Many of you who have been following this blog have inquired how to help and assist.  I will direct you to Mrs. Toe's Liberia Project Facebook Page.  You can follow along and read much more regarding this project and of course contact Mrs. Toe for ideas on how you can help.  There is a great need for school supplies but also clothing, toys, games, puzzles and much more.  I can also tell you if you want to donate monetarily, shipping costs are pretty heavy to Liberia so donations are also greatly appreciated to ship the items.  During the upcoming school year, I will be sharing about my trip as an ambassador of Central Schools and our York Community and you can learn more about how to help.  Special thanks to everyone who followed me on this journey.  Writing about it each night made me feel a little less lonely and that you were here with me!  I'M BACK IN THE USA!

~Dr. Miller, Day 14-16 June 17, 2024

There are no resources or collections to display