Teaching Day #2
Before the official start of the school day, the students gather in the yard for “assembly” and – when it’s over – they sing and march to their respective classrooms. It’s a wonderful thing to see!
For Day #2 at school, I went prepared with flashcards and other fun activities for the students. So – after their maths (plural) lesson – Miss Belinda turned it over to me to have fun with the students.
After fun with flashcards and multiple rote-learning repetitions, I showed them pictures of my family and of my scuba diving. I belated realized that showing them pictures of my sister’s and brother’s dogs probably didn’t translate well since dogs are often food in Ghana. But it certainly didn’t help. One of the highlights was having Miss Belinda translate my sister’s job as a wildlife biologist, which I described as a “bear doctor”. The kids LOVED that. “Bear doctor!!” they’d repeat with me. Understandably the scuba pictures didn’t translate quite so well, though they did love that I told them my favorite animal was a fish. “Feeesh!” they repeated.
For our art project, we first drew pictures of our favorite animal. Standard favorites: horses, birds, roosters (“cocks” in Ghana), and – probably because of the power of suggestion – fish. Then I had them do step #1 on a two-step art project: tracing their hands on some construction paper. About 1/3 of them brightened up and got VERY excited the second I showed them my hand against the construction paper. Clearly they had done this before, though the rest of the class had not. It’s so interesting to see what these kids do and do not know. But they drew their hands – some of them with great difficulty – and I collected the papers so I could take them with me when it was time to leave.
Lunch – I can’t remember what it was, but I was starving and ate all of it.
The Wli Waterfalls are one of the great sites to see in the area, and we were so hot that we were quite happy at the prospect of lots of cold water. To get there, we hopped into an old van that’s actually called a “trotro” but which I named “A Deathtrap on Wheels”. It was pretty rickety.
Once we got to the parking lot, we settled in to a 20 minute walk to the waterfalls. Two teenage boys began to walk with Kitty in an attempt to give her a “tour” and theoretically get a tip at the end of the walk. But Susan and I started to worry that leaving her alone with them wasn’t a good idea. So we loitered back with her but also not giving the boys any leeway. It’s not that Ghana was unsafe, but we both had reasons to be wary of strangers on paths.
The Wli Waterfalls were beautiful, flowing from the top of a cliff and down to a huge pool of water and complete with a pretty rainbow at the end. I wasn’t going to go in due to prior experiences with waterfalls and leeches. But FOMS (Fear of Missing Something) quickly set in and I trudged in. The spray was extremely powerful – like needles pricking your eyes and skin. Jes and I backed as far into it as we could before we’d had enough. My skin was thoroughly exfoliated.
Our CCS Program guide mentioned that there were no washer and dryers in the Home Base facilities, but that we could wash our own clothes in the yard “with a little elbow grease”. Given the amount of sweating we’d done it’s no surprise that laundry needed to be done by a few folks. It was a lovely afternoon so I stepped out do capture the process, and also to take pictures of Gabriel, one of the local boys.
School Prep Night
Those of us teaching at schools were motivated to create arts and crafts projects for our students the next day, so we pulled out scissors, glue, construction paper, and other goodies and sat in the communal kitchen to cut and glue. Jes – a special ed teacher – was well versed in teaching younger kids and full of ideas for what we could do to help teach and entertain the kids. Jes has been to Ghana many times on her own and with her church, and has found her element here. She keeps her own blog of her adventures too.
With the help of Susan and Kitty, we cut out my students’ hand drawings and pasted them to construction sheets of complimentary pieces of paper. This was made doubly hard because it was hot so we had the fans on full blast so of course construction paper not weighted down with ketchup, salt, and pepper flew everywhere.