Final Days

We have now been home for a couple days and other than getting used to the time zone, I have found myself missing many aspects of the life-changing trip. I miss my wonderful students, even if some of them did constantly talk over me in class. I miss our reading groups where I could see so many of the students’ determination to learn. I also miss spending hours working in the library in which I categorized and labeled hundreds of books. Even though there are so many aspects of this trip that I miss, there are definitely some parts of the trip that I won’t miss such as the random power outages, sometimes for the whole night. I also won’t miss the constant staring for being an “obroni”, or foreigner, everywhere I go.

There are many great lessons I learned while on this trip, but one of the most useful lesson/values I learned would probably be the importance of being flexible and going with the flow. I was very determined before the trip that I was going to teach my class the basics of ballet at my warm-ups at the beginning of the trip, but I had to scratch that idea after the first day because I realized that it wasn’t what the students enjoyed. They need to move around more to focus. So I decided, with the help of some friends on the trip, to teach my class different warm-ups that we do with Westtown’s dance program. We started off our second week of the trip with a lot of rain. This meant that we had to relocate my class to a smaller space. As a result of this, many of my warm-ups had to be scraped due to lack of space, so I had to think quickly to figure out what we could do and what music would go well with the warm-ups to keep the students interested. One of the last days of the trip, we went to pick up pieces from the woodcarvers in a nearby town. When we were a couple minutes away, our trusty red van that we had been riding the who trip broke down halfway up a hill. Our van driver slowly backed down the hill to the side of the road and parked there. We quickly got together and started walking the rest of the way to the woodcarvers because we still needed to get our wood. When we walked back to the van, a man approached us and started to explain how he and a few other men were growing different food plants including coconuts to help feed those who needed food. He then offered us coconuts from his trees, which we accepted after making sure that they were safe to eat and not infused with unpurified water (they do that with watermelon in the area). We then were picked up by taxis that T. Kwesi sent for us. This kind of event would normally make me stressed and uncomfortable because I am not the type of person who is able to go with the flow very easily, I usually like everything planned out and to go with the plan. However, this trip helped me understand that there are many things, such as red vans, that don’t go as planned and that you need to often think on the spot.

We finished up our trip in Accra where we went shopping in an craft market as well as going to W.E.B. Dubois’ house. We then relaxed at our hotel for the rest of the evening preparing ourselves for a very long flight home. Thankfully, there were no screaming kids on the flight home unlike our flight to Ghana.

This trip has allowed me to grow as a person and create lasting memories that I will be able to share with so many people in the future. I hope to return to Ghana at some point in the near future (study abroad in college maybe?) to continue the work that I started in the two brief weeks.

Dropping Like Flies

Yesterday, we went to Mankessim’s market. People were bustling around us and staring at us because of our obvious difference in looks that they are used to. Many of us bought fabric so that we could have one of T. Melissa’s friends make us dresses, shirts, or aprons.

Today was our third day teaching, and everything seems to be falling into place. Students are consistently coming to our class and wandering off a little less than before (quite an accomplishment we think). Yesterday, I finally got the correct class, the wrong students came the first class. My class yesterday caught onto my choreography really well and quickly, and I believe they enjoyed it because today they came to class and started dancing the moves I taught right away.

On a less happy note, many of us are getting sick in one way or another. Dehydration has been a problem because we are not used to the temperature or humidity here in Ghana. Also, many of us, including myself, are having to deal with some really itchy heat rash. As Hannah likes to say, she has chicken skin on her legs. Unfortunately, the other blogger on this trip, Brooke, is one of our friends who is sick.

Westtown, I Don’t Think we’re in Pennsylvania Anymore

(From March 9th because of internet issues)

People always tell you right before you leave for another country that you’re going to experience major culture shock. It’s difficult to prepare yourself for what you see in a country like Ghana. People are everywhere, walking on the side of the roads that are covered with trash. Goats are everywhere, and yes I mean everywhere. Unlike in the States where cars move out of the way for people, people walking on the side of the road are expected to jump out of the way for cars because they drive all over the roads, on whatever side they can to avoid holes or just where ever they want.

For the first day, after the ten and a half hour long plane ride with a screaming toddler just two seats away from me, we took a bus two more hours to the guest house we are staying in for the next two weeks. We met some people from the village we are in and struggled to keep our eyes open so that we could adjust to the time difference.

The next day, Monday, we had to adjust our schedule because it was Ghana’s Independence Day, so there was no school. Instead of teaching, we went to Coconut Grove Resort and relaxed at the pool and the beach all afternoon.

Today was our first day at Heritage Academy. Throughout the day we taught classes that we planned weeks ago and led reading groups to help the seventh and eighth graders with their reading skills. My class, a dance class, was definitely a big learning experience. The teachers had warned us that the students don’t pay attention too well sometimes, but I was not expecting it to be at the degree it went to. I definitely had struggles with getting the students to commit to the activities and not to be self-conscious about dancing in front of each other, and students looking out from different classrooms. It has helped me learn about how important it is for teachers to be able to adapt and change lesson plans depending on what interests the students and at what level they are.

Tomorrow, is another teaching day but in the afternoon we are going to a nearby town to visit the market.

Ghana: The Excitement Leading Up

Hello everyone! For the next couple of weeks I will be giving you the inside scoop on what is going at Heritage Academy in Ghana! With only a week and a half before we fly to Accra, the nine students and three teachers are getting final packing lists together as we pack for two exciting weeks. We are all teaching classes, in pairs or alone, and this past week has been full of writing lesson plans and meeting with teachers from Westtown who teach our subjects. In addition to preparing for our classes, we have been packing up shoes that Lower School collected, which  will then be donated to people throughout the village of Essiam. There are suitcases upon suitcases full with shoes that were donated, so many that we are struggling to find room for all of them!

Please check back often to find out what we are doing in Ghana!