As our second and final week of teaching at Heritage began, we realized that Ghanaian students are not immune to “the Mondays.” Despite some understandable lassitude following the weekend, many of the students quickly regained their enthusiasm for another week of classes. Many of our “highs” in our daily reflection session centered on stories about our reading periods with some of the younger students. We all have two or three reading periods a day, during which we sit with small groups of students and read books from the library, working on pronunciation, vocabulary, and comprehension. Today we brought our first batch of new, donated books to our reading periods, which the kids were really excited about, because they’ve practically memorized the stories in their other books.
Many of our students, both from classes and from reading periods, have been asking for our addresses to become penpals. Today alone, five of us received such requests, which we happily obliged. We look forward to keeping in touch with these students when we return to the US.
This afternoon, spearheaded by Kate, half of us handed out surveys designed to gauge students’ opinions of the school environment, which will be compared against identical surveys completed by students back home in local Lancaster County schools. We surveyed the 10th and 11th graders, and succeeded in collecting 74 finished surveys. As a small prize for helping us out, we also handed out pencils, erasers, and highlighters, but pens were by far the most popular item. A comparison of the surveys completed in Ghana and the US will hopefully shed light on rates of bullying, students’ outlook on their schools, and performance by grade in these two countries.
The other half of us assembled in Heritage’s clinic to start the week-long process of measuring each student’s height, weight, and shoe size. As we went, we compiled the students’ information on index cards, which will be alphabetized and filed to track their growth over time. Today we measured the height and weight of all the eighth graders, which we’ll plot on growth charts to make sure everyone is getting sufficient nutrients. We also had plenty of shoes to distribute to the eighth graders, although our shoe sizer disappeared, making the process considerably slower! So we ended up more or less guessing their shoe sizes as we went, giving each student a larger or smaller size as needed. After plenty of trial and error, each eighth grade student walked away with a new pair of shoes. During the sizing, Jennie spoke with one student waiting in line whose bus was about to leave. Despite Jennie’s assurance that she could get shoes tomorrow, this girl chose to miss her short bus ride and walk 45 minutes home instead, with a new pair in hand.
Tonight marks the halfway point in our eight days of teaching at Heritage, and it’s saddening to think that in only a week we’ll be back in Lancaster, missing our Heritage friends. We’ve already met so many people and visited plenty of fascinating places in Ghana, and we’re excited to finish strong this last week.
– Teresa, Mike, and Sydney