Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Going With the Flow and "Obolo"

I have been lucky to have so much success with internet here, but sometimes, the servers can go out, and I will not have internet access. This is an issue for my mother. I will try and write every day and post a few posts at once if I must. 

Today was supposed to be the greatly anticipated day where I meet my cooperating teacher. Unfortunately, I was left in anticipation for one more day, and was not paired up. We are all learning that while we are here, we need to go with the floooooooow. While every one of us wants to be in a classroom right away, we need to understand that there are different channels that our program needs to go through and that there are different customs that these people possess. For example, any arrangements that need to be made between my supervising professor and the school must go through the headmaster of the school. Instead of directly going to heads of say the English department to see who is willing to accept student teachers, Dr. Kreutter (my supervisor) must go to the headmaster who then contacts the other teachers. Tomorrow will likely be the day, and I can’t wait. Fortunately, we weren’t sent home without anything to do.

I was not sure how the teachers feel about having American student teachers come into their classroom, but I was reassured by one of the sweetest, kindest people I have every met. Olivia is a French teacher in the Junior High, and wanted to know everything about us, our program, our school, etc. If she did not have to teach, she would have talked to us all day. She has already offered to take us to her church, to see her home, and visit a private school that her children attend. It worked out in her schedule that she could take us to that private school today, so the students who were not assigned student teachers yet took a trip there. Although I am not a primary school teacher, I loved spending time at this school that facilitates children from 4 months old (I made one cry) to 9 years old. I believe that good teaching is good teaching, and good teaching was very evident here – the teachers cared for the students and their best interests. One teacher told me: “If I go home at the end of the day and help one student understand, I leave feeling good.”

On a completely different note, all of the people here are… how should I say it… very interested in my size. I am a 6’2’’, nearly 300-pound male, who is of a rather athletic build (if I do say so myself), which may be intimidating if you don’t know me (especially to the little baby I made cry today). But I don’t know if intimidating is the word that describes how Ghanaian people see me. It began when I finished eating dinner at a restaurant and the waiter took my plate away. I did a nice job on the dinner, and the plate was pretty empty, especially sitting next to vegetarian Buns, who only really picked at the plate. The waiter pointed at me and said, “Ohhhh Obolo” and made a “big person” gesture. I asked him what that meant, and he said, “The fat one.” I didn’t say anything to him because I didn’t quite understand where it was coming from. My teacher assured me that being seen as large and “fat” is a compliment and something impressive to people from this area. Now, this could be made up and intended for me to hold off on getting upset/kicking some ass, but I have heard even more the last few days. At one of the markets, someone said, “Big Boy… you strong?” I obviously said yes. They may have been making fun of me, or may have been just taken aback by my size, but I just went along with it, and gave them bro handshakes. Again, I am hoping and thinking that this is a cultural thing that I must get used to.
This is Terrio, not a student.
I am going to start taking more pictures
of myself, and the school, I promise.
I couldn’t help but laugh when one of the teachers I was visiting at the school pointed to one seven year old student, who is definitely on the bigger side, with the chubbiest cheeks I have ever seen, and sort of resembled the vine-famous “Lil Cousin Terrio,” and said “Michael, this is your little brother!” I certainly am becoming less of an “obolo,” because of how much I am sweating and how little I am eating compared to my usual diet. If you call me “obolo” in the States, there will be repercussions, because it won’t be a cultural thing back home.


  1. Love this entry! And love that you are making mom happy by trying to post every day.

  2. This is awesome man. I know you will do a great job teaching these students and I'm glad you survived edTPA because that's all I keep hearing about from my program. I'll be keeping up with this blog. Keep doing your thing and I will talk to you soon ya BIG FARTED LINEMAN

  3. I love reading your posts. I miss being able to speak with you whenever I want, but you sound like you're taking in everything. Love you.

  4. Hey mike, that was awesome reading of ur adventures. Sounds like u r adjusting well as we all knew u would! Miss u and look fed to more stories,😊😊😊. Love ya!! Mrs. C

  5. Funny stuff, especially "Obolo". Great seeing you last week, thanks for stopping in for a visit. You will learn the best thing about teaching is building relationships with young people and watching them grow into responsible, successful adults. I am proud of you and your journey to Ghana, make the most of the trip. By the way, the Jets got blown out- it turns out that whether you are in the US or Africa, the Jets are not a great team... DeJo