Thursday, November 29, 2012

Discovering Differences

As of today, I officially have 3 more weeks left here in Ghana. As excited as I am to travel back home, I have mixed feelings about all the good-byes that I have to say to people I will probably never see again. This experience has changed a huge part of me and for that I am forever grateful.

Last weekend, I went to downtown Accra with Jessica and Phelicia to go shopping for Christmas gifts and souvenirs. It was exhausting! At the market, all of the vendors were calling out to us to come look at their stand. I have to admit they are good at what they do.. trying every trick in the book to get us to buy from them instead of anyone else. I even had some women tell me that we were sisters and that she would be hurt if I didn't want to buy any of her nice jewelry. She proceeded to pretend hurt that I didn't think any of her "stuff" was nice. Oh boy.... :)

Now I had a lot of shopping to do so I set out on my mission, bartered my way to reasonable prices and was on my way to the next shop. While shopping, I discovered a new favorite Ghanaian treat... frozen yogurt! (and no, not ice cream) It tastes similar to the yogurt that we have in America, but it is sold in a little bag and completely frozen solid. You bite the bag open and then you can munch on the frozen yogurt and suck up the melted yogurt at the end. It is absolutely delicious and helps you stay cool... the best of both worlds!

Last Sunday, Phelicia invited us to attend a choir concert that was organized by her church, that her brother would be performing in. I was very excited and both Jessica and myself attended. Needless to say, this was quite the experience. The "concert" started with an open worship and praise time where people freely danced around the church, waving their hankerchiefs to the music as the pastor preached. After worship, different "guest" choirs started performing musical numbers. During the event, there was one famous, guest pastor who came to do praise as well. I must admit, she intimidated me A LOT! Her presence was very strong, she was loud and outspoken, and she only spoke the native Twi language so I couldn't understand a work she said. During her preaching, she would go around and lay her hands on people, resulting in them crying, falling over etc. I didn't understand what was happening and was later told by Auntie that a lot of people here in various religions believe in the holy spirit being an entity that could consume the body to allow unexpected things to happen. She told me that the "falling over" that I witnessed was simply people being filled with the holy spirit, causing them to momentarily lose their ability to stand. Now, no matter what beliefs people may have this whole event opened my eyes to how different cultures and religions really are or can be. I've come to appreciate these type of experiences that put me completely outside of my comfort zone. I feel that these experiences are the ones that have taught me the most during my stay here in Ghana.

School wasn't to eventful this week. I finished teaching English late last week and did some Math lessons this week. With the students finishing up their workbooks, the focus of the teachers has been redirected to preparing the students for their end-of-term exams. Yes, preschoolers take these too! Again, their system is very different than the United States. The next seven days I was told we would be reviewing with students the things that were taught the whole first semester (September-December) and then they would take their exams and afterwards go on vacation. Today at school I spent most of the afternoon helping my teacher prepare for tomorrow which is "open day." This is an equivalent to parent/teacher conferences in America, minus the grades for the youngsters. Tomorrow I will go into school at the normal time, however the parents will be coming in and taking a look at their child's workbooks to see how they are progressing through the term, asking the teacher any questions that they have. The parents also take this time to purchase books for next term if they need to do so. Now, unlike America there are no set time slots for the parents to come in so I'm interested to see how the day unfolds. Other than that, I am continuing to learn why things are done the why they are here and trying to take in as much as I can about being an effective teacher, regardless of the location of teaching.

Hope everyone back home is staying warm! :)

1 comment:

  1. You have such wonderful insights in your blog about not only education, but life in general. It sounds like this has been a transformative experience :) I have really enjoyed keeping up with your experience...