Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week 2 in Ghana

Current Location: Obodan, Ghana

What a crazy busy week! I have been so busy that I haven’t been able to update, as well as we have had some power outages that have made it difficult for us to access internet – if the power is down, all the internet cafes close down!

Today is officially day 14 of my time here in Ghana, meaning it marks my halfway point! We fly home 2 weeks from tomorrow, which is really bizarre. It hardly seems like I have been here a week, I can’t believe it’s half over. We have been so busy with lesson planning, organization, and teaching that the time has really flown by. The usual day has us waking up at 5:45. We leave for school before 7, arriving by 7:30. We start class sometime between 8 and 8:30. After classes are over, we supervise the design project. The whole day goes until either 2 or 4, depending on whether it is a market day or not. Monday’s and Thursdays the students leave at 2 PM, and they leave at 4 PM the other three days. After classes and design project are over, we have to clean up and pack up all our materials. We sometimes have to go to the market or the internet café. I would say so far we usually get home around 7. It gets dark at 7, so when we get home it already seems late. We go haul water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing and then cook dinner. Dinner is over by 8:30 or 9 on most days, and we have to wash dishes, take showers, and finish lesson plans. Then its bed time and start all over again the next day!

The first week of teaching went really well. I last posted after I had finished my first day, and the rest of the week went very smoothly. The students are very attentive and eager to learn, and I think my lessons have all been going over very well. The students really have enjoyed the activities that we have done so far. It seems I am somewhat succeeding on my mission to try to make math fun and practical for the students. I am still figuring out everything for next week, especially considering the fun and practical part, but I’m hoping my second week of lessons is as successful as my first. I had never really considered teaching at a potential career, but after seeing how rewarding this is, I might have to reconsider that a little bit! Though it’s totally not what I need – I already have enough problems deciding what I want to do with my life without adding another potential career!

We also began the design project with the kids this week. We are having the kids design a hydroponic system to grow plants in. We are trying to lead them in the project but allowing it to be their own. The students are so imaginative – they have very creative ideas and it should be interesting to see all their finished projects. It is difficult to always know what they are doing – they often start discussing and arguing in Twi rather than English since it is more comfortable for them, but when that happens I have no idea what is going on! The group I am helping seems to have a fairly good idea about things. We have two more weeks for the project to be constructed and implemented, so hopefully by then all 3 groups will have successful projects that they can be proud of.

We went for dinner in Achimota, a town very close to Accra, on Friday night, and then on Saturday myself, Chelsey, and Lucy went into Accra to buy a router for the school so they can have internet access. Accra is a totally different world from what we are in. There is much more diversity, so our skin color does not stand out as much. I felt like I stood out more because of my dress than for my skin color. I was wearing the sort of clothing I wear in the rural area we are staying, while everyone else was dressed nicely and cleanly. It was very obvious that we were staying outside of Accra! I would love to spend more time in Accra sometime – it seems like a very interesting city. Unfortunately we have so little time here, and even less free time that we won’t be able to spend more than a day or 2 in Accra at most. I guess it’s a good excuse for me to come back! Today we had a down day. I wasn’t feeling fantastic this morning, so I stayed inside to try to cool off, while the EWB people did some work with the latrine. I was glad I didn’t have to do anything with that! In the afternoon, there was a soccer game between Obodan and a neighboring town. Chelsey, Clay, and Sammy all played on Obodan’s team, and we won! It was a lot of fun – there were lots of kids and people from the town around and all watching. It’s a big community activity to watch soccer, so it was really interesting to see.

The transportation in Ghana continues to freak me out. During this week we had a new record for number of people in a car – seven. We are taking a small car, built to fit five people max, probably about the size of a Honda Civic if not smaller. We squeezed four people in the back seat (including 2 guys that have rather long legs and broad shoulders!), two people in the front passenger seat, and the driver. Luckily it was a short ride, but it was still interesting – my foot was asleep by the time we got back to Obodan! We also have continued to have interesting tro-tro experiences. At times it can be a bit scary – people are NOT patient, and at a tro station when lots of people want to get home, there can be a bit of a mad rush and a lot of pushing and shoving to try to get in. A lot of the roads we have to drive on are also extremely bumpy – I feel sometimes like I should be on a theme park ride how much we are bouncing around in the tro. Seat belts also don’t exist here, at least not for passengers. Sometimes the driver will have one but it’s not always the case. I haven’t seen anything worse than a fender bender since being here, so at least people seem to know what they are doing on the roads. You could not pay me enough money to have my drive these roads!

Also on a happy note, I got my camera back after a pretty complicated experience. However, the camera no longer seems to work. The memory card still has all the pictures I had taken on it, so I at least did not lose that, which is nice. We are going to try to figure out what happened to the camera, and maybe we can repair it. If not, I can have best buy check it out back in the states and maybe get it repaired there. Fingers crossed, and I am at least happy that enough people were honest enough to help me get my camera back. The memory card also has a ton of pictures of the random guy and his friends, so I have those now too. Think those will be deleted VERY soon!

Well that’s it for now. I hope to be able to update more often so I don’t post these ridiculously long blogs all the time. I miss everyone in the states tons, and I promise to post the pictures that I at least have if not more once I get back.

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