Teaching has been challenging, fun, and rewarding. I never thought I would teach because I have always hated speaking in front of people. I took this trip to Ghana because I knew it would push me outside of my comfort zone. The kids at Heritage are adorable and facinated with the “Obroni” (foreigner) that are on campus. At first this was exciting and I loved to be swarmed by little kids. After eight days it has become exhausting when I get swarmed walking from a class while the little kids are screaming “Obroni!” and fighting for my hand. I love them anyways and can’t resist hugging them and trying to communicate with them in their limited english.The fact that the kindergarden is taught under a tent makes this especially hard to control. One of my favorite things to do with the little ones is teaching them American nursery rhymes like Old McDonald and The Itsy Bitsy Spider (I will have to video tape it – it is adorable).
My first two periods of the day are reading periods where I sit with a small group of kids and help them read a book. We learned quickly that the kids vary a lot in reading levels. To solve this the group of reader have set up a system where one person hangs back and picks out the kids that need extra help from our groups once we begin to read. The students favorite thing to read by far are the Disney Princess Story books and Junie B Jones. What we have been working on with the kids is reading comprehension. The kids are not fluent and may seem like they can read but most just sound out the words without having any idea what most of them mean.
My first class is the 6th grade in the shed and after lunch I teach J2a and J2b in the main building. I was nervous on the first day when I walked in and realized it would not be easy. The students are eager and have a lot of energy, the key is to figure out how to channel that into learning. They were excited to see us and introduce themselves, but, just like the sixth graders at home they were rowdy… jumping around, hitting eachother, and shouting. A tool that works is shouting, “If you can hear me raise your hand”. The windows and doorways are open, which makes sound travel extremely easy between classes making us have to talk in a louder than normal voice. I love how eager the kids are to learn. We have taught them grammer, poems, and are now starting on short stories and plot structure. Teaching here consists of a lot of copying and memorizing and it is hard to teach them to think forthemselves: to say write there own story or poem. I have loved teaching and even though it has been hard and discouraging at times when kids don’t get it I do feel that I have been able to teach them about creative writing and about my culture. I hope that I will be leaving here with some short stories they have written to share at home.
My students love to write notes and everybody wants to be your penpal. Their favorite thing is to have their picture taken. They will ask in class and run up to you outside saying “snap! snap!” and all cram infront of the camera. In Ghana time is much more relaxed, us Americans call it Ghana time. Ghana time for Americans means calm down, class will start when it is ready. Periods are set times but they are just guidline, school periods start and end a bit differently eachday and people get there when they are good and ready. I have learned to be flexible and time has taken on an entirely new meaning (getting back to the Westtown schedule will be hard).
Teaching in Ghana has been amazing and has taught me so much. I love the kids and have learned a lot from them about their humility and kindness. I have loved becoming close to my students and the high school students here. Traveling into town to learn about their families, Ghanain culture, and food has been my favorite part of this trip. I love town because I get to see what my kids lives are like outside the classroom.