During the past week I was and am being constantly reminded of my quickly approaching journey home. This experience has been different than anything I could have imagined. The tourist "luxuries" that I was expecting were and are moderately there, and I am thankful for that. They greatly helped with my transition from Western to African life. Regardless of the various situations that I've found myself in, both good and bad, I feel that I could never have learned as much about myself and my future profession without coming here.
On a different, less sentimental note, last week I got to cross another item off my "bucket list." (Yes, I have made an actual list. :) ) I had the opportunity to visit Boti Falls, the very 1st waterfall that I've experienced in "real life." It was gorgeous! The journey there was long with many scary, high, mountainous roads with only random concrete slabs protecting me plunging to the ground. I feel that they were only there for mental security and therefore found myself looking straight ahead at the road most of the time. On our excursion, we also visited Akosombo Dam in Akosombo, about 2-2 1/2 hours from Accra and by the Volta Region (West Ghana). We had a car packed with people including Jessica, Phelicia, Auntie, her grandson Michael, our driver, and myself. The dam is something that the people of Ghana are very proud of due to the fact that 60% of the country's electricity comes forth from its rushing water. Unfortunately, I was informed that the government sold some of this power to neighboring countries to make money, leading to the recent, continual episodes of "lights off" (power outages).
During school this week, we have been preparing for mid-term examinations like I mentioned in my last post. These exams are expected to start next Monday and will last a few days. They include subjects such as religious and moral education, mathematics, language, phonics, and english to name a few. I was told that the students would be asked to answer questions verbally one-on-one with the teacher and do problems independently on paper. After all the students are finished, I will help my teacher correct the exams, give every student a score, and then rank the students based on their performance. This whole process seemed a little intense to me, due to the fact that these children are only 4 and 5 years old, however in Ghana education is tough and competitive. Everyone wants to be the best of the best and therefore they instill in them early how important testing is and have the students take tests to determine their place in the system.
Today at school I offered my teacher, Evelyn, all of the things that were gathered before my journey. She was so excited about all of the materials that it made me feel good to help, even if their use is different than what I originally intended. For example, in Ghana the teachers need to continually make and update their classrooms and teaching aids. The scissors, markers, rulers etc. will most likely not be used by the students but the teachers to assist in these tasks. At one point Evelyn even kissed the books, saying "Thank you, thank you. I have story books now." I felt grateful for being able to assist both the students AND teacher/s in learning .
A special thanks to my family, friends, university supervisor and teachers/students at West Side Elementary for donating supplies for my trip!