Before people get too offended or shocked by the latter half of this title, let me explain. “It’s only a wee-wee” is the title of a song in a Quaker-song book that was compiled by a Westtown Teacher. Not only did we find it hilarious, but we also thought it was appropriate for our experience to date, given the fact that the small Ghanaian children are completely fascinated by urination (both theirs and other people’s). Moving on to a different topic. “Bucket showers” refers to the types of showers that we have to take now, because the water in our compound has stopped working. While it’s certainly a different experience, it’s not all that bad and no seems to mind too much.
Over all, the trip has been going wonderfully so far. The kids at Heritage are amazing, and for different reasons. The younger kids are drawn to you as if by some sort of magnetic force, and won’t let go of you until you forcefully break their grip. They are so adorable of course that you never want to make them leave. Someone once told them that white people smell different, so naturally all of them spend a lot of time smelling us. The older kids (the ones that we teach) always want us to play soccer with them (fortunately, I have been saved from embarrassing myself too much in front of the children).
My classes have been going well so far, but there have of course been some snags. Explaining to the children what exactly they are supposed to be doing has been somewhat difficult, probably because they’re English skills are below what I expected them to be, and because they have never undertaken a project like this before. Many of them have written stories that I assume are traditional tribal fables, which is a really good thing because it allows them to write about things that are important to them and that they enjoy.
One group of kids had trouble understanding the concept behind story writing, because much of the writing they do for school is strictly factual. They produced very detailed descriptions of themselves and of Heritage Academy, but everything they wrote lacked a plot. When I told them to write stories like the ones in the books that they read in their reading groups, they wrote one of the stories out word for word, by memory. Not only does this prove that Heritage needs more books, so that the kids can actually learn English and not memorization, but it proved to me that I needed to find another way of explaining the assignment. I asked them “what would you do if you could do anything” and they replied that they liked to draw. I suggested that they come up with a story involving someone who draws/paints, and they came up with an idea for a story called “the magic brush”. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m really confident that it will be great.
Each day I have been working with the children in order to help them develop their stories. I’ve been teaching them about plot, descriptive words/phrases, conflict and resolution, setting, and character development. For the next couple of classes, I hope to take the students outside so that they can work together in quiet. Hopefully they will be able to learn a lot by reading each other’s stories and critiquing them.
That’s all the time I have for today, but I’ll be sure to talk to you all later! Kevin