Now that our time at Heritage Academy has begun, it is clear we all share the same obsession with the children. They are sooooo cute! Kwesi is sure Samantha is not the only one thinking about stealing one of them, so he says he is going to watch us all very closely; especially our group leader Lilah who keeps saying, “the children are so freakin’ adorable!”
Despite the wonderful time that we all had at school yesterday, many of us were still apprehensive about entering our classrooms this morning. Some of the obstacles that we feared included cultural differences, the language barrier, and our understanding that we “speak too quickly” (according to our students, of course). Regardless, we started the day with smiling faces and were eager to greet the Heritage family once again.
Our concerns immediately dissipated during our first teaching experiences of the day. Each of us felt that our lessons were smoothly executed and were ecstatic to discover that our students had retained a great deal of the information that we presented to them yesterday. We were extremely impressed by the questions that our students asked: for example, “is there a difference between the mind and the brain?”
Just as we became more comfortable with teaching, the students began to open up to us. This was most apparent as an entire classroom laughed at Rachel Haimowitz’s less than impressive attempt to perform Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance in her Music and Creative Writing class. On a similar note, in French class, a student wrote that “Kelly and Grace are beautiful like my grandmother.” We have decided to take that as a compliment.
Most of the kids can read pretty well, but every now and then, you find one like the sixth grader in Kelly’s reading group this afternoon who didn’t know words like “woman”, “fire”, or “pot”. Thankfully, he had made some progress by the end of the period thanks to a little extra personal attention. From these intimate interactions, we are able to feel like our time here is truly worthwhile, and the grins and handshakes that we receive from these students on a regular basis show that they feel the same way.
One of the highlights of our day was watching 46 students proudly receive scholarships. The pride and excitement that was demonstrated by these children, who knew that the remaining years of their education would be paid for, cannot be described in words. It was truly amazing to be a part of this special day for them. We couldn’t help thinking that $75.00 for a whole year’s worth of education is like a trip to the mall for us. This moment really put things into perspective for us and brought us back to reality.
Like yesterday, our group split into two for the conclusion of the day. While half of us ventured to the Mankessim market, where they were exposed to Ghanaian culture and purchased beautiful fabrics to turn into dresses (yes, for Andrew too!), the remainder stayed back at Heritage Academy to work on a community service project. This group started cleaning out a building that will be converted into a business office before we leave. At this time, they were also able to interact with the ninth grade students and see where they live for the year.
After another long and rewarding day, we spent a relaxing night at our home base. Theresa cooked palm nut soup with rice and yams and it was delicious. We look forward to another day of teaching and our remaining days in Ghana. For now, it is time for us to get some rest in preparation for tomorrow’s activities. We wish you all a good night – mo nda yie oo!
-Rachel Haimowitz, Samantha Duberstein, Kwesi Koomson, and the rest of the F&M crew.