Day 5 – Friday May 13th
Today after breakfast, the group gathered up supplies to take to the schools, including a mixture of sanitation supplies like soap, deodorant, and shampoo, as well as school supplies like pencils, erasers, and rulers. It was exciting to know that these supplies would be going to children who would really appreciate the gifts.
There was a small problem though. My bag of donations had a leak! Some of the shampoo bottles exploded and spilled out over the rest of the supplies. Fortunately, I only lost a few shampoos, and the rest of the supplies were covered in plastic or could be washed. Averting my little problem, we finished distributing the supplies to each group, as each group of two would be going to a different school, and boarded our bus with our driver, Joseph. Joseph is an older Catholic Ghanian, and he had a disposition that made him look like he was angry or frustrated. Plus, being older he expected the younger Emanuel to show him respect. This caused a few problems in reaching our destination as conflicts between the two made getting to the schools an extra challenge.
Spending maybe a few more minutes than necessary on the non-air-conditioned bus, everyone was excited to see their first group of kids. As Rushmee got off the bus when we stopped at our first school everyone was overcome with joy and laughter as our petite honor student was nearly consumed by the wave of Ghanian children. No one could wait for their turn to feel the same searing happiness on their children’s faces.
Sammy and I finally reached our school, and we first met with the, what we would describe as the principal of the school. Then we went to a cool dark room which was like the teachers’ lounge. There we met some of the teachers, and picked their brains with our little Ghanian knowledge. One man was particularly talkative, and surprised Sammy and I with his knowledge of the conditions of Ghana. He regurgitated much of what we had learned from our professors about the economy and political outlook of Ghana. His knowledge stunned me because I didn’t think that the average Ghanian was so aware of the negative forces affecting their way of life. Maybe I felt this way because I did not think they had a way to learn this information, or maybe because, being a teenage American, I was surprised to see a typical citizen so in tune with his country.
Other than talking with this teacher, there was another teacher in the room which I had an embarrassing “conversation” with. Just in small talk with the women sitting in front of Sammy and I, I was stumbling over the whole conversation as I could not understand her accent. After many whats, and I’m sorry’s, I found out that she was the English professor. I felt as though I was undermining her abilities by not understanding her.
Finally, I was introduced to my class, and what a surprise I received. The class prepared a song for me. The song was sang in their native language, and it was beautiful. Even now I can remember the beating rhythm and foreign sound coming from the crammed room of younger students. When they finished the song, they sang another just as beautiful as the first one!
I was so taken back by their gift to me, I lost focus and completely forgot what I planned on doing. I jumped right into the lesson, and left my lesson plan on the ground. I found the most difficult thing to get over was the language barrier. I was not sure if anyone knew what I was saying other than the few who who were answering my questions.
At one point in my lecture I was comparing the size of a bacteria to the size of a pencil. I did this by drawing a big pencil on the board, and then a dot on the chalk board. I then asked a student to come up to the board to confirm that I did draw a point on the board, just to emphasize the idea of my lesson. The person I called on however, made everyone react. Even the teachers looked a little worried and like they wanted to say something when I called on the girl sitting near the front of the class to come up to the board. When she got up I realized why. She had Polio, and as she walked to the board without assistance, she moved in a crouching stance with her butt near the floor, and her knees high. I tried to look unphased by my ignorance, and just drew the point I made on the board closer to the bottom where she could reach it.
The rest of the lesson went off well, and after I was signaled by Joseph to come back to the bus, I quickly said goodbye (even though I wish I had more time to say some last words), and went with him to the bus.
Did I learn a lot on this little trip. All my preparation did help, but things did not go as planned, and I had to think on my feet to come up with solutions to overcome language barriers, and physical disabilities. This experience could come in handy in the future when speeking in front of audiences I know little about.
Later in the day, after we ate our lunches warmed by the hot Ghanian air, and talked about our unique experiences, we headed to the Proworld house (close by), to be lectured on sustainable development, and meet the other volunteers in their organization. There we met another fellow runner which we would be meeting the next morning.