Tag Archives: batik

Tree of Life

Shoutout to our homies, last blog comin’ atcha,

Although we thought this trip would never come to an end, here we are. Today we finished our last day of teaching at Heritage Academy, and let us just say its bittersweet. Many of us wrapped up our lessons with final projects and presentations. Today had a familiar “last day of school” feeling: taking pictures with students, giving out addresses, and saying our goodbyes. At the end of the day we attended a school-wide assembly in which we sang the Ghanaian national anthem with all the students we had met over the week. Each of us shared a lesson we learned at Heritage, including the values of creativity, friendship, and role models, and gave our sincerest thanks to everyone at the school for giving us such an amazing experience.

Along with goodbyes came promises to students to keep in touch. We personally take these very seriously and are committed to writing to the kids, but we also worked hard to impress on the students the limits of our communication abilities. The pen pal system at Heritage can take about 4 months for a letter to be exchanged, leaving a student feeling forgotten or as if our relationship wasn’t genuine. We expressed our dedication to the kids, and discussed in our reflection the way that keeping in touch with these amazing students will be a constant reminder of our time here and also help us be mindful in our home lives.

Speaking of being mindful, your four current blog writers cannot forget to be thankful for the opportunity that F&M has provided to us to come on this trip through the Marshall Scholarship Program. The Marshall Scholarship creates a fund that can be used by students to perform community service or research projects. As recipients of this scholarship, throughout the trip we have been thinking critically of service and our role as volunteers, and we wanted to be sure we were using this award thoughtfully and as it was intended. As two weeks have now past, we can see in our experiences and reflections of stepping outside our comfort zone that we have truly grown as people and learned more than we can say. We acknowledge the apprehensions that go along with service trips, and in some ways we agree with the self-interested nature. However, due to this group’s awareness of this flaw, we try not to be passive participants and constantly question the appropriateness of the role we are playing. This mindfulness has contributed to an experience that undoubtedly made the most of our winter break.

When we first arrived at the guesthouse, our jet-lagged and relatively unacquainted group took a walk down the road and discovered what could only be described as the Tree of Life. We all stared in amazement and took an excruciatingly awkward first photo (choosing to pose as trees instead of actually touching each other). Today, we ceremoniously returned to this epic vertical hunk of wood, this time in our Heritage Academy dresses (and one shirt for Kyle) and students in tow. The picture from this afternoon lacks any awkwardness, and instead shows the true friends we have become over the course of the trip.

Thanks for seeing us through to the end,

Carey, Chloe, Erika, Jen, and everyone else

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Life Skills From the 9 Obrunis

Although we initially had some difficulties with teaching, today we found that the process came more naturally. We spent our Saturday conducting a life skills workshop with the 12th graders at Heritage. We covered topics about relationships, career goals, and interview skills in order to help facilitate conversation about life after high school. We came into the workshop we a lot of apprehension. We weren’t sure how much we could offer the students since we are very unfamiliar with the business world and dating environment of Ghana (and in the US).

For the relationship workshop, we split the 12th graders up by gender with Elee and Jen leading the females and Kyle and Carey leading the males to make the students more open to conversation. We proved to be more competent than we thought, and all groups were very successful. We under estimated how eager the students would be to participate, and facilitate the conversations we wanted to have. In the healthy relationship workshop, both groups had open discussions about values and expectations in relationships. Through this we learned a lot about the dating culture in Ghana and did our best as young adults to act as mentors to the students and give them our thoughts on healthy relationships whether they be sexual or not.

In the business skills workshop, we conducted a Myers Brigg personality test, and then split up into small groups to discuss the meaning of the results. This workshop was very focused on pushing the students to identify and communicate their goals, and plan the path they need to take to achieve them.

We concluded the day with an etiquette lunch that was set up as a mock interview. We had students follow etiquette rules and pressed students with difficult interview questions. During open discussion, Katie and Chloe’s table explained how western culture overpowers Ghanaian influence in the business world of Ghana. This disturbed some of the students who felt like while they are open to bringing in western culture, countries like the United States do not bring in pieces of Ghanaian culture. Furthermore they voiced that when introducing US business culture they are sacrificing their own culture. For example one of the students noted that as a business man in Ghana it should be appropriate for him to wear his batik, he is expected to wear a suit.

The students reflected that Heritage is one of the few schools in Ghana that offers workshops such as this to better prepare students for the future. It also gave us a great opportunity to speak with students closer to our age and compare our goals and aspirations. While we think of college as a time to explore our choices before making critical life decisions, students in Ghana feel more pressure to have a career choice in mind before pursuing the financial and time commitment of university.

After the workshop Lilah and Rachel sent us all on a scavenger hunt in Ajumako. All of us enjoyed the experience of exploring the area on our own and creating connections with the local townspeople. The word “obruni” rang through the town as every child we passed waved and screamed. Within minutes we had a full entourage of little children.

We made it back in time to travel to a local woodcarving shop (Which many of you will be receiving presents from). We were in awe at the skills of these craftsmen who formed a chunk of wood into an intricate work of art within minutes.

Our day concluded with Elee befriending yet another Ghanaian child.

Tomorrow we are off to Elmina Castle to learn more about the slave trade in Ghana… check in later to hear more about our adventures 😉

Peace and Love,

Carey and Elee and the 7 other obrunis

P.S. comments never hurt nobody

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