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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Brueggeman

Connections Through Conversations–Vinay Merchant


I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to travel safely and experience new and diverse cultures. From my time in Togo, I gained perspective on what it means to live life simply, which entails removing ourselves from many of the luxuries of life that we take for granted in the United States. 


Memories of the warm weather and unbelievably kind smiles continue to replay in my mind; however, it was the conversations that allowed me to absorb the significance of being in-country and sparked changes in my being.

One conversation stands out compared to the rest. Kouami and I sat soaking under the sun at Marcelo Beach as I asked him about his family and what everyday life is like in Togo. He told me about his father who had recently passed, his mother who lives with him, and his siblings who commute over the Ghana border to see him. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Kouami yet, he offered everything he had to make his visitors feel at home and worked tirelessly to make sure our trip went smoothly and safely. His kind, calm demeanor hides his hard-working, relentless passion for generating good for his people. When I took the time to unearth the fiery core that lies in his heart, I found that our purpose for being was the same. It was the genuine, unfiltered love that we seek and more importantly share that motivates us to be an instrument for good in this world. Transcending borders, languages, generations, and perspectives, it was love for all that had brought Kouami and me together.

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