Pushing Through to the End

Our days in Ghana are quickly dwindling down, and we are all trying to make the best of the time we have left here. That might just be why we haven’t been posting many updates to the blog. Oops. The time between our last post and now have consisted of a canopy rainforest walk on a suspension bridge (yikes,) slave castles in Cape Coast, a rockin’ church service, more teaching, of course, construction of bookshelves, and further library restoration. Not to mention, all of the seemingly small but significant moments in the midst of the very Ghana-esque relaxed chaos.

Over the weekend we had a long, bumpy ride all the way to Kakum National Park where we conquered the canopy walk. I was terrified to say the least, but I couldn’t be happier looking back on what I accomplished. It was an unforgettable experience for those of us who were able to go. Unfortunately, Rebecca and Hannah had to stay behind that day due to illness. That same day we drove again to Cape Coast to see the slave castles. Gaining a perspective on the history of Ghana was an important experience for us all.

Even after a jam packed, sweaty Saturday, a few of us including myself attended a service at a local Pentecostal church. Despite being obvious outsiders, the church was expecting us, and wanted to make us feel as welcome and a part of the community as possible. There was a lot of song and dance, which was not only enjoyable, but also extremely passionate. It was really indicative of the natural livelihood here that I feel we lack in the States. Nonetheless, the people here have unknowingly lent me quite a bit of wisdom just by showing me their way of life. I hope to bring some of that home with me.

Post weekend classes began again on Monday, and we’re now down to our two final days of teaching at Heritage. Some of us are gearing up for Dance, Music, and Theatre performances, and others are trying to plant their final seeds of knowledge into the kids. We’re also trying to finish up the library before we depart. Progress has been going strong and steady, sorting and labeling tons of books, but there’s much left to do. I think we are all feeling a bit pressured with the two days left to make the biggest impact possible on the lives of these students. Just their presence has taught me a great deal over the past eleven days or so. I just hope I can do the same for at least one of them.

I haven’t been able to sufficiently articulate our time in Ghana thus far with such limited space in this blog post, but at a glance, I hope I’ve given a bit of insight as to what’s been happening here. With that, our group is now pushing through to the end, and we will keep you posted on the coming days. It’s Ghana be great!

-Brooke

Fufu Friday!

March 11, 2016

Today we all felt the relief of our first Friday here in Ghana, especially after a not so restful sleep on Thursday night. Overcome by the heat in the midst of a power outage, some of us took the advantage to go outside and spot the stars last night. Surrounded only in the company of friends, the smoky African air, and the occasional goat or rooster call, I had never seen anything so beautiful before.  I had never felt as alive as I did in that very moment. Okay, so Teacher Lynette may have come to yell at us for being too loud so late at night, but I’ve got to say, it was still totally worth it. And I’ve had many significant moments similar to those during our journey thus far.

Today was our fourth day of teaching, and I still find myself overcome with anxiety before I lead a reading group or teach an Acting lesson. Despite that, the upbeat energy and openness of the kids brings me back to level. Every time a little girl asks you to be her best friend, or a little guy takes you by the hand to walk to class, everything seems to be happening just as it should be. Before leaving for this trip a teacher gave me some wise advice I thought I’d share. She told me not to worry too much about my teaching. Instead, she said to really let the kids teach me. Allow myself to be enlightened as to what gives them so much life. I’ve found that when I’m most present with that in mind, all feels right and well.

I finally feel like I had a successful day of classes! My kids created masks inspired by characters they came up with, and they seemed excited by the idea. It was rewarding watching them take creative license, and I was happy to see them so engaged even if they may not have understood the point of the acting lesson.  Another note, Ghanaian kids love the camera, and they know how to work it, too.

Additionally, the reworking of the library seems to be coming along well. Teacher Victoria has taken charge of the project, with the rest of us helping from time to time, mostly in the afternoon as another service component after classes. I helped out with organizing books a bit this afternoon once I got too tired from our little “Friday Dance Party.” It took us all a while to recover from that one. The energy those kids bring is just amazing.

To top it all off, we finally got to try Fufu! Fufu is a popular dish here made from pounding plantains and cassava together. It definitely isn’t something we’re used to in the US, but the group seemed pretty satisfied. We’re soaking up as much of the culture as we can in between teaching and sleeping. Since tomorrow begins the weekend, we are going to explore a bit outside of the Essiam village where we’re living here in Ghana. Our other blogger for the trip, Rebecca, hasn’t been feeling too well, but either way, one of us will continue to update on our adventures here. Check back soon!

-Brooke

Ghana: One Week More

Lesson planning, meetings, shoe sorting, Yellow Fever vaccinations and Malarone galore. These past couple of months have been filled with ongoing preparation and a culminating excitement for our trip to Ghana. Seeing as we hop on our flight to Accra just a week from tomorrow, the project is starting to seem like more and more of a reality with each day leading up to it all. Now to start packing and put some finishing touches on our lesson plans!

 

While at Heritage Academy, I will teach Theatre classes to the students there. Recently, I’ve been asked to do a lot of reflection about my intentions for this trip and why it matters to me. I’ve realized I feel a real sense of gratitude toward my art and performance teachers and directors here at Westtown, from sixth grade theatre through the Outsider in Theatre Literature, and Directing classes in my senior year. They have taught me so much more than just stage-craft, or scene study, or even overcoming the challenge of hitting a high A in the opening number of a musical. Most significantly, they have taught me that acting is about sharing a story, and whatever story I have to tell is important. They have taught me that my voice matters. Those are the lessons I’ve learned that have inspired me to pursue theatre outside of Westtown, so among all else, I hope to pass down those same lessons that my teachers taught me, to my students at Heritage Academy.

 

As seniors move into our last week of classes before we head out, the anticipation is palpable throughout the dorm and the halls. I’ll be excited to blog about what I learn over the next couple of weeks. Please check back soon to stay updated on our journey in Ghana!