Rise and Shine

Loyal followers (all 4 of you, shout out to Katie’s mom),

Day Four of teaching has come with some definite highlights. Whether it’s the children grasping complicated concepts of human rights, or having an in-depth discussion of deforestation, today has left the Obruni crew feeling accomplished. In addition to teaching, we began one of our after school projects of measuring the height, weight, and shoe size (yes, getting a 12-year-old fresh out of class to stop and measure their feet was as difficult as one might imagine). Those who weren’t helping with the kids continued to organize the library. So all in all, a great day of teaching was had at Heritage Academy. We ended the day with a cozy (read: sticky and humid) movie night where all 11 of us packed around a single laptop to watch “Rise and Shine.” This Villanova-made documentary profiles a Heritage student (that we had the pleasure to meet) and a student in the Philadelphia school district, illustrating the struggles faced by each as they try to complete their education. The movie creates a powerful and complex interpretation of the effects of poverty and race in education systems all over the world, and how these two students should be inspirations to each other and to us all.

We also had the opportunity this afternoon to have a long discussion with the headmaster of Heritage, Mr. DeGraft. His commitment to the students is incredible, and his passion for every single child is immediately apparent in the way he speaks about his position. He took 45 minutes out of his day to explain his concern for each student’s personal education and success, rather than the overall school’s position in national rankings (a focus that often lets less fortunate students fall through the cracks). We were particularly impressed with Mr. DeGraft’s ability to maximize the resources that he has been presented with. Heritage has been able to create a community that both appreciates the culture of Ghana while incorporating more innovative teaching methods, setting it apart from government schools (who still use caning as a method of discipline and are primarily lecture and repetition based).

Listening to Mr. DeGraft talk about education here inevitably led us to think about the education we will be returning to in less than a week at F&M (and UPenn for one loser). Our experience at Heritage has forced us to confront issues that are a lot bigger than ourselves or our academic careers. However, we realize that our experience here does not change the responsibilities that we have made for ourselves at home, and returning to those brings a constant anxiety that could only be found in America. Our group has truly come to value the time we have taken to slow down and reflect each night. Whether the topic was trivial or profound, we felt that discussing these matters with each other offered opportunity for self-growth and added a certain amount of clarity and meaning to each day. As a group, we see the importance of maintaining this type of reflection and bringing the practice back with us to our respective schools and lives. So the next time we are stressed, instead of reaching for Netflix and the Nutella bottle we will choose to be mindful instead. Or at least eat Nutella while writing in a journal.

All our love,

Chloe, Erika and the Gang

P.S. Everyone check out Kyle’s LinkedIn cause he totally SUCKED UP ALL OUR INTERNET updating it.


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13 thoughts on “Rise and Shine

  1. MamaNell says:

    Jeez.. Looks like I missed yesterdays post.. Must be the single digit weather here that has my brain frozen!! Anyway.. This was another great reflection and every time I read these, it makes me really think about what is important here and in my life. I only wish I had the opportunity you guys did and had the time to really figure things out! At 21 and maybe 22 you guys have more wisdom. knowledge and insight that not may your age do.

    You have kickstarted your future and after your time in Ghana I know you will all do great things. Promise me, those kids in Ghana and yourselves you will all stay in touch and keep this great bond strong. We need more reflective humans in this world and the DIPLOMATS you all are (except for that one Quaker in the group) will make this world a better place.

    Namaste DIPS!!


  2. Suanne Blumberg says:

    It sounds like all of you are learning some very important life lessons that you can not learn on a college campus. Congratulations for embracing this wonderful experience. Please know that the work you do with the students will stay with them for a life time. They will draw from what you teach them and share with them for years to come. Continue to have an amazing journey. Carey miss you. xoxo Suanne ( Carey’s aunt )

  3. Eli Sentman says:

    It is wonderfull what u guys are doing and the experience you will take home. I’m Envious . Love u and am so proud of u Carey. Let me know if I can embarrass u anymore.

  4. As per usual, awesome update for us here 45 miles east of Sybericuse, NY. It’s a balmy 5 degrees and I love reading your posts and living vicariously through you all. I echo MamaNells sentiments. I also encourage you to use this experience to amplify the human being you are becoming in this world. Never forget this experience and the power it is having to both impact the present students and yourselves and all of your futures and futures of the generations to come as a result of all of your future actions.

    Thank you for continuing to take the time to update us!
    Bonne Nuit
    Michelle Shauger

  5. Carol Dickey says:

    Thank you for all your blogs. I look forward to reading them every day and following your adventures. I also am envious of your warm weather! On Monday morning, we hit -11 here in Omaha, with a wind chill of -33. Keep up the good work and enjoy your remaining time in Ghana!. Lots of love to Jennifer.

    Buenas Noches
    Carol Dickey

  6. Cheryl says:

    Good Morning!

    You guys continue to amaze and inspire me with your observations and insights!

    You blogged about mindfulness. I think being mindful is so important. You have to be “present” to be mindful. We are so easily manipulated, distracted and consumed by technology. Technology is a great thing, but it should be a tool in our lives, not the master of it. May you all be “masters” of your own lives and continue the practice of mindfulness despite the crush of mindless distractions!

    Congrats to Molly…I bet you’ll always remember exactly where you were when you received the news of your acceptance to Grad school! 🙂

    Big hug & much love to our son Kyle!

    p.s. Headmaster Mr. DeGraft sounds like an amazing person, mentor and Hero to his

  7. Steve Walmer says:

    To all, Although your time spent in Ghana is short and the chance is limited that you will ever truly know if you made an impact on the students you shared time with, your efforts help to make the world a better place to live. You connected. Be it a wink of an eye, a smile, a hand shake or hug, you connected. Those are some of the rewards of teaching that last well beyond your short stay. If your students in some small way share with others in the future on anything they learned from you, you connected. They will in time pay it forward.

  8. Tisha Walmer says:

    Checking repeatedly for a new posting has become a habit for most of us back here in the frigid U.S. Thanks for keeping us up to date not just on your activities but also on your perceptions. And sorry, you’re right “comments never hurt nobody” – ouch. We’ll do better.

    You may not change lives while in Ghana but if Ghana makes you more sensitive to the dichotomy of rich vs poor right here in your own country and elsewhere – and perhaps causes you to live your lives differently and attempt to make life better for even one person then this winter alternative was a perfect alternative. Guaranteed these experiences will stay with you forever. But you all know that 🙂
    Much love to Samantha from all of us!

    p.s. Not wanting to appear greedy but are you able to post pics or must we wait?

  9. Anne Bracker says:

    We read your blogs on a daily basis and are so impressed with the thoughtful comments you have shared with us. We continue to be very proud of you and have no doubt that you will apply what you have learned to the work and play you pursue when you return to the States. With love. Mom and Dad (Anne and Jeff)

  10. Jayel says:

    How cool. Seems like you’re learning a lot- not only about kids in Ghana but about yourselves as well! Keep up the good work and please continue to inspire us back home!

  11. throughthelookingglasseducation says:

    Gaaaaaah!! Congrats Mo! I’m sooo excited for you!!!!!

  12. eljnum1f says:

    LOL who calls it a “Nutella BOTTLE”????

  13. eljnum1f says:


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