A school like no other: Part 2

 

Since Monday, I have grown so much more comfortable in the classroom with the kids, and am starting to grow very fond of them. Though they have had exams every day, I am able to spend time with my class, Stage 5, from 9-10, and then later in the day between 1-3:30. Every day I find something new and it’s been such a surreal amazing experience. Though we don’t always understand each other, we find a way to communicate. The kids in my class vary in levels, though a lot of them speak fairly good English. At first I was pretty nervous going in, because they didn’t tell me what to teach and I had no idea what to do with them. However, over the past 3 days I feel like I have already made a small difference in their learning. I continue to grow and learn on this journey as well, mostly that trying new things can sometimes end up being something really great.

I taught the kids about NYC…where we are on the map, our transportation systems, and who are kids are. They LOVED hearing about Harlem Link kids. Here I was, teaching a lesson I wasn’t even sure they understood, and one of our really smart kids raised his hand and asked “What is the population of the kids at your school?”. I was blown away!! It was just one of the many moments of this trip that have made me laugh and one I’ll always remember. The kids seem to love learning in general. Any time we are on “break” and they are allowed to play in the “yard”, they gravitate to their classrooms and if I am near they will ask me if I can teach them. Some things I have taught them so far: American greetings, funny morning meetings from Harlem Link (THANKS Tara and Elah!!), currency and geography, NYC transportation and schools, Simon Says, and lastly, what makes me happy the most, different feeling words and how to use them 🙂 They really loved learning about this, and now even come up to me and say “Madame, I FEEL happy today”. Ha, ahhh..music to my ears. I played “Feeling Charades” with them and they really loved it!

All smiles after our feelings lesson!

 

One of my students named Monister showing a pretend angry face

As I tell the kids back in Harlem, feelings are universal. No matter what language one speaks, feelings are the same everywhere. I can’t wait to give them the feeling poster I brought from home next week.

Beatrice and I have learned that not only are we working in the school teaching kids, we are also teaching the adults. They are just as curious about us “bafaleh” as the kids. They are muh better at English and though they don’t speak perfectly it’s a lot of fun to talk with them about-different parts of our cultures and religions, the students in their school and Ghana in general. With Beatrice being from Spain, and me from America, we have a lot to talk about! So far, we have introduced them to pizza, American sports, and antibacterial gel (which the male teachers put all over their arms and shirts they loved the smell so much!). I really enjoy the staff here and love that we have just as much a chance to get to know them as well.

I will end this (very long) blog with my day today. I had by far the best day with the kids that I have had since here, and one that will certainly be a memory I will never forget. All week I have been telling the kids I will be bringing them in music and today I did (I’ve brought my Ipod and portable speakers). I wanted to teach them some American songs and Beatrice and I wanted to teach Stage 5 and 6 a song together, and we decided on K’naan’s ‘Wavin Flag’. So last night I got the lyrics from the internet, and after lunch I wrote down the words on the board and together she and I gathered both our classes into one room and taught them the lyrics. It was such a surreal experience and hearing the kids sing the words back to us after a while of teaching it to them; it almost brought tears to my eyes.

They did so well and I can’t wait to rehearse with them again soon. Hopefully, if we reach super star quality, the good news is that the headmaster said we can perform in the school’s celebration performance going on July 30th for all of the nearby towns!! That would be awesome. Bea and I are going to work extra hard all of next week to make sure they learn the words and perhaps a dance move or two, so we can be part of the experience with them. After they did that, we showed them some American beats…we taught them (warning, the following statement may leave you feeling disappointed or somewhat embarrassed) Justin Bieber (come on, he IS an American heartthrob), Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Eminem & Rihanna, Jay-Z and some others. They didn’t just like it, they absolutely LOVED it! We had such a blast with them during this….all they wanted was to see us dance, so I finally put the speakers and Ipod down and Beatrice and I gave them a little dance. Then, we invited them to come up to the front of the class to dance, and it was hysterical! They were really feeling “California Girls”. The class got a bit rowdy so we moved to outside, where we proceeded to dance the Chicken Dance. The little kids were alllll over this one! There were children surrounding me and Beatrice, it was such a fun moment.

Playing music for the children outside the classroom. This picture makes me smile.

Our 10-14 year olds were a little too cool for school for this one. We eventually tired everyone out (ok, maybe more so us, the adults) and we spent time hanging out with the adults and some of the kids who were sitting down on a nearby bench as well. There were actually  kids laying down today because some didn’t feel well. Actually, we think they were sick because today was “cold” for the kids, compared to the normal heat. Me and Beatrice found this amazing, since at home it would feel really good to have a breezy day in 70’s! When I had the kids tell me how they felt today, almost the whole class said “cold” and many kids even got sweaters to put on. It was really funny to hear them be so cold.

One last bit of really exciting news! Beatrice and I have been invited to the school’s Graduation Ceremony…not just to watch it but to be IN it! Our principal has purchased material for all of the staff, and they have included us in this! They gathered all the staff members for a quick meeting a few days ago and we voted on the material we liked the best. Then today a seamstress came and got all our measurements and we will recieve the uniforms Wednesday. It was SO cool, we got to pick one outfit from the list of outfits below:

It made me and Beatrice feel so a part of the community. We are so excited to get to wear (and keep) African clothing! There is no doubt in our minds that we are going to look like fools (Um, we already stand out just a tad) but it sounds like it’s a very important event in the community and we are so excited to be a part of it. Oh, and if you are wondering which design the female staff and me and Beatrice all picked out together, you’ll just have to wait for the pictures after July 30th 🙂

Here are some more pictures:

One of the my sneaky little friends from Stage 1 or 2. She doesn't speak English but every day when I arrive she comes to hug me .

 

The seamstress asked me to hold her baby. I couldn’t take her fast enough!

This truly is such a unique experience and today I thought to myself, I couldn’t be happier being anywhere but here in this moment, singing, laughing and dancing with these Ghanian children.

 This weekend me and the 3 other volunteers (Beatrice and 2 sisters from England, Sophie & Pippa) are going to visit Cape Coast, so we have been permitted to take off work tomorrow. I’m going to miss the kids tomorrow but can’t wait to see them again Monday. For now, me and the girls are so excited for our roadtrip this weekend. I have to wake up early, so I should probably get to bed, but I’ll try and post about our trip next week. Also just a side note, I wish I could post more pictures, but our internet connection here is pretty slow, so unfortunately you’ll just be getting a glimpse now and will see all my pictures when I am back!

 Let this weekend’s adventure begin 🙂

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