Today marked our third day of teaching and the end of our first week. Many of us have begun to build close personal relationships with the students at Heritage. Jennie and Jake were both asked to be pen pals with students in their classes. Kate, during a discussion about gender roles in her psychology class, did push-ups on the floor of the classroom with some of her girls. During our nightly reflection on daily highs and lows, many of us expressed disappointment that some of the students we had worked with during previous reading periods were absent today. We’re really getting close to our students, and we miss them when they’re not there.
Lots of activities went well in our classes today, and it was great to see how excited the students were, even on the last day of the week. In an exercise to review body vocabulary in French, the students in Anne’s French class loved sticking labeled Post-It notes on each other’s faces, arms, and legs. Alexis’s and Greg’s students enjoyed drawing pictures of animals from the rainforest during a lesson about the diversity of the rainforest ecosystem and the importance of protecting it. Anita also saw this passion for learning when she sat in on a math class. When their teacher stepped out of the room, the students asked her to teach them for a few minutes, rather than taking advantage of some down time. Even in their free periods, we saw students looking up new words in dictionaries and studying encyclopedias to continue lessons by themselves.
In our nightly reflection, we learned a lot about the vision for Heritage Academy’s future when Lilah told us about a conversation she had today with DeGraft, the school’s headmaster. Heritage is one of the few schools in Ghana with grades Pre-K to 11, and will also have 12th grade starting next year. The school’s leaders aim to make Heritage a prestigious public school for all grades, and they are well on their way to doing so after being ranked 1st in the country for 9th grade national exams several times, including this past year. In the future, they are hoping to expand the school to include boarders from other parts of Ghana. We’ve heard over and over about how many students receive scholarships to attend Heritage. From all we have learned, it is clear that Heritage is continually moving towards its goal of providing a comprehensive education for students all over Ghana, regardless of their ability to pay.
After school, we visited a woodshop in a small village 15 minutes away. There, we got to see the woodworkers bent over carvings at all stages of the process, from an unformed log to a completed, polished unity knot. Several of us purchased unity knots, which are carved from a single piece of wood into three entwined figures. While the figures look separate, they can actually never be parted. These artisans walked barefoot across the wood-chip covered floor as they exhibited various masks and figurines they had crafted. We loved purchasing souvenirs directly from the people who had crafted them and seeing the process of woodcarving in many different stages.
When we returned home, we were so excited to see that our daily portion of pineapple had increased from one plate to two. The pineapple here is so amazing, especially compared to the pineapple we eat in the U.S., which is obviously not local like it is here. We may never be able to eat pineapple at home again.
Looking forward to more adventures in the weekend ahead,
Alexis and Teresa