Last week I had numerous experiences that prevented me from getting to the local internet cafe where I type my blogs. Looking back I have to laugh, however it was the first time since being here that I know I was close to tears. Let me explain.
Two weekends ago, on Friday, December 7th it was the Presidential election here in Ghana. I have to admit that I was little nervous about what might take place, considering it was only the 6th Democratic election EVER held here in Ghana. I was asked by numerous Ghanaians if I was scared by what the future election might hold, my response always was, "Should I be?" :) Due to the uncertainty of the situation, Jessica and I spent all of our weekend at our quiet, safe home. It was nice and relaxing and we both got some much-needed rest and reading time in. After the election, and the announcement of the winner on Sunday night, we heard the streets come alive with drums, singing, and I'm sure dancing was involved as well. The election ended up being quite safe, with only a few protests that took place and one stabbing that involved opposing parties in Accra
After election weekend, I had a "fun-filled" week of examinations at my school. My students were testing Monday-Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday the teachers were to record scores on all the exams, rank the students by their overall performance on all subjects, and write comments on the students' classrooms behaviors and interests. My role in this whole process was to assist students in understanding the exams by giving directions and then afterwards figuring our the percentile ranks of the children. At one point during the week, my cooperating teacher asked me, "How are the final examinations in America?" I had a difficult time responding but figured it was safe to say, "In America, our 4 year olds can't sit still long enough to take exams." :)
During the course of our busy exam week, I had a few unfortunate non-school related situations that occurred, as I mentioned earlier. First, early last week upon inspecting our passports, Jessica and I found that the stamp that the immigration officers gave us upon entering the country authorized us to stay for 60 days. We are scheduled to stay for 62 days. Auntie took us to the immigration office and talked to an officer about the details. The woman at the office reassured us that "60 days" meant simply "two months" (of course it does) and that leaving on December 21st should be fine considering we came on October 21st. Hopefully everything works out and I'll be allowed to return to the U.S. this Friday.
Another dilemma that I experienced last week was in relation to my hair. That's right, I said my hair. :) I decided that I wanted to get my hair braided one last time during my stay here in Ghana and therefore Auntie referred me to a woman in the neighborhood who owned a small salon. One afternoon, I walked to the salon to ask the woman if she would be able to braid my "white lady" hair. She assured me that she could and quoted a price, how much weave I would need to purchase, and the length of time for completion. She estimated about 3 hours. I returned to this very salon later in the week and began the process. I had my money and had even purchased the weave ahead of time so that it would match my hair color as closely as possible. (*Side note- In Africa, when receiving braids, a "weave" aka fake hair is always added to make your hair thicker and to prevent the braids from falling out. The hair is added gradually while forming the braids.) Anyways, long story short is that the woman was a crook. When I got to the salon for the braiding the salon owner tried to charge me more than she originally quoted. I also stayed at the salon for 6 hours that evening and returned for another 2 hours the following night...and the braids still weren't done! At the end of this second evening my stylist ran out of the weave that I had bought and the salon owner tried to get me to purchase another color from her to complete my hair. I felt very uncomfortable and asked the owner if I could leave. I payed for the uncompleted braids, and was frustrated and heart-broken on my walk home.
When I got home, I explained the situation to Auntie and she insisted that I keep the braids in and she called another stylist to come to the house the following morning. I don't know what I would do without my African mother. My braids are now complete and are likely to give quite a shock to those at home in the U.S! :)
On a different note, I am leaving Ghana tomorrow. I have mixed feeling about it right now but I realize that my time here has come to an end. I truly hope that I can come again but only time will tell. I will not be writing another blog from here, however I will write my final blog upon my return home. I want to spend as much time as possible with my "family" and the new friends that I have made during my remaining time here. This was truly a unique and unimaginable experience and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to learn so much.
See you soon America.