Africa: The Growing Experience: Part 2

Learning Through Experience

It’s been about a month now since I have returned from Ghana. I am still reflecting on and missing my time over in Africa. It was surely a time I will never forget in my life, so many life changing experiences. Speaking at the 360GH Panel Discussion with my fellow travelers for an audience of over 50 people, walking through the slave castles of Cape Coast, and giving a speech to over 100 students from around the continent of Africa at the Young African Leadership Initiative were all huge confidence boosters and eye opening experiences. I learned my voice matters and it can be heard by hundreds of people. I learned about my ancestors and the struggles they endured. Your voice also matters! Your ancestors had to struggle to make this world an okay place for you to live! Now it’s our turn to make this world a better place!

I feel as if now I am in a stronger position to help others because I have grown from my experiences. Mentally I have grown and I am continuing to grow stronger. Being in out of the country for the first time was mentally draining and exhausting. I am the type to overthink situations but what I experienced was more than I have ever imagined. I was in a new environment and taking in so much new information. While analyzing and deciphering everything around me I fell into a negative spiral. I started thinking negatively about myself and my life. Was I on the right path? Is my life where I want it to be? Am I making the right choices? I was so overwhelmed with everything going on around me, I lost my fortitude. I didn’t know what to do. I looked to my strong family and friends around me to help me get through a tough time.

As I encountered lot of strong people in Ghana I definitely feel that it rubbed off on me. When having the experience of seeing some people less fortunate than you, it puts your life in perspective and makes you see how strong some people have to be. 

(Henry Alston Jr with some of the locals)

On this trip I really got to know some individuals on a personal level and they all shared inspiring stories and experiences of strength and real determination. I was truly surrounded by strong people in a strong environment. It has absolutely shown me that the people you are with and the environment you are in will directly effect your personal outcome of life. 


Since being back in the United States I have started to fall back into old habits and ways because I surrounded myself in the same environment with the same people so naturally I’d be the same person. A recent phone call with a mentor and friend Lavar Thomas has invigorated me to make those tough decisions and do what is right for my future life and future self. I will now only surround myself with people who are working with me to achieve our goals! It is extremely important for not only me but you as well to really surround yourself with the people that help you succeed and reach your goals. Coming back from Ghana to the States has really shown me this. I have always said that “You are a product of your environment” but sometimes you need to be shown and experience something to really get the point and message. 


The harsh experiences you go through will teach you the lessons of life, the joyful experiences you go through will show you why life is worth living! – Karl Golden Jr


Through all this experience I have physically, mentally, and spiritually gotten stronger. I now do not let negative thoughts or people throw me off track so if you don’t take anything else from this article I hope you remember that. I’ve learned that other people’s influence and other types of outer influence do not define me. We have the power to control our lives. We are the kings and queens of our goals and dreams! We choose what information to believe and what not to believe. I believe if you are in-tune with yourself then you can follow you intuition and feel out what just doesn’t seem right. We are the only ones who choose what we believe. Never let an outside force tell you who you are or what to think because we are constantly being fed all types of information through other people and media sources. These media sources include:

  • Music
  • Television
  • Magazines
  • Video games
  • Movies
  • Radio
  • Internet
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Social media

Wow! Look at all the sources of media that are providing information for our minds to consume. When our minds have an over consumption of information it starts to get out of control. I directly experienced this while out of the country! I was thinking of all the things back home while still trying to enjoy my experience in Ghana. I was vulnerable being in a foreign land and it got to me. Now I monitor the information I consume and make sure it is only beneficial and positive, this leads me to live a favorable and positive life. If you are consistently consuming information that is negative then you will find yourself living a unfulfilling and negative life. I realized this while in Ghana with the help of my strong environment!


So if you are always consuming information then when do you have time to form your own opinion? Nowadays too many peoples opinions and views are repeated by what you see, read, and hear instead of thinking about and analyzing the information and then forming your own opinion. Be different, have your own opinion. Other people have no say in what you think and feel!

In conclusion I figured out that outside forces do not define me. I am the controller of my life through choices of action. You too are the controller of your life with the choices of your actions you make everyday. Will you choose to continue to consume negative media? Or will you surround yourself with positive people that make you stronger!? I’ve made my choice. What will your destiny be?

Karl Golden Jr



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