It's hard to believe that my fourth week here has come and gone. It is going by so fast! Last weekend I had a pretty relaxing and refreshing time. On Saturday, Jessica, myself, and our friend Phelicia went to the Accra Mall for a few hours. I was shocked at how "Western" it was and wondered who in this country can afford to spend 310 Ghanaian cedis (155 U.S. dollars) on a pair of shoes? It made me feel like I was in America and I don't think I liked it. We also stopped by the seamstress to get fitted for our new Ghanaian clothes.I felt quite pampered considering I have never had anything made specially for me in the United States. In addition to experiencing both the seamstress' shop and the Accra Mall, I had a first time opportunity to ride the most popular form of public transportation here! They are mini buses called "tro-tros." These buses are often referred to as "skeletons on wheels" and look like run-down buses that stop whenever somebody wants to get on or off. The reason for their popularity is because they are extremely cheap, usually only 20 U.S. cents per trip! If you can handle the thrill of the lead-footed driver and being squished next to your neighbor they are definitely worth it!
In school this week I have taken on the responsibility of teaching English, as my teacher thought that I was the most qualified. :) The children are learning about matching, association of similar objects, following directions, and patterns. Next week, in an effort to enhance the students' understanding of patterns I was thinking of making pattern puzzles for the students to work on with a partner, or bringing in some colored stacking cubes that I brought with to practice the skill. I also introduced the sticker chart to my teacher on Monday and she absolutely loved the idea! We've been working on it slowly with me giving the students daily reminders about what kinds of behavior I am looking for so that they can receive a sticker next to their name. I feel that a little refinement of the necessary behavior is needed because I now realize that the teachers make a point to give them unscheduled time to talk, run, and play with their peers in the classroom... to make up for their lack of "toys." I don't want to encourage them to sit in silence if this is their time to get some energy out by playing with their peers.
Also, this was my first 5-day week since coming to Ghana and I feel that I am definitely getting more adjusted to the constant noise level at the school. It was a little overwhelming and exhausting when I first started at here but now I see it as a representation of their schooling system. I was actually told by a fellow teacher today that one of the reasons that they choose to "cane" their children is because they are different than other children. She said that African children are "hard wired to play and socialize, always socialize, and that this is the only way to be strict and control them." I don't necessarily agree with that BUT I had to laugh a little bit inside because she was right about the talking. In this country there is socializing among people constantly...it is the reason that "African time" exists. Nothing in Africa happens when it is expected or scheduled to because of the instantaneous conversations that occur on the streets, people wanting you to come visit them in their homes, etc. Nobody here follows the structure and schedules that we follow in the United States, which is refreshing BUT leads to the constant chit-chatter in the classroom.
Talk to everyone soon!