Friday, November 29, 2013

Last Day of School and Thanksgiving

The day snuck up on all of us, and yesterday it was finally time to say goodbye to the KNUST JHS and Primary Schools. We were all eager to finish up our lessons, give our teachers gifts, and say goodbye to all of our kids. Before we could do that, we were told, there would be two assemblies for us.

First, our whole group walked over to the primary school where we were greeting with a huge group of students singing songs and welcoming us. This was probably the closest I'll ever feel to being a rock star - as we walked around, and eventually walked through the crowd and up onto a ledge where the headmaster was standing, we were cheered for, touched, jumped on, and screamed at. If the kids weren't 6 or 7, there may have been a problem. The headmaster expressed his gratitude for our work at the school, and how he wishes the program can continue well into the future. We presented a computer, our gift to the school, and they presented us with bracelets that some of the girls in the primary school made themselves.

Patrick, Dr. K and I present Headmaster Francis Asaari with this computer

After their little marching band played us out, we went over to the JHS. Things here work on what we call "Ghana Time," so if they said we would get started at say 8:00 or 8:15, it is good to be ready, but it is realistic that we won't do anything until about 9:00. I hustled to my class so that I could hand out the pen pal letters from my students at HF-L. Assigning the pen pal letters is going to provide such a cool cultural experience for these students who may not know much about the other's country, and it provides a very unique opportunity for me to connect my two classrooms. When that period was over, assembly was called, and we were honored once more - this time at the JHS.

The headmaster expressed his appreciation once more, and then honored the student teachers from the JHS. They absolutely showered us with gifts. They called us up one by one, and as they did, sections of the huge group of students gathered exploded with appreciation of their teacher. The administration gave me a kente weaved bow tie, a pen holder, and a carved wooden pen. Additionally, my students all contributed money and bought me three Ghanaian shirts which they presented to me as well. All of my colleagues and I couldn't stop smiling. This was the perfect send off. As they closed the assembly, each teacher in the school came up to give us a handshake, and if we grew close with him or her, a big, sweaty, Ghana hug.

The crowd was out of control. Almost had to call in extra security for me.

The rest of the day consisted of a lot of goodbyes to students, some last photo opportunities, and a farewell to the school. I got lunch with some of my students, and when we walked into their cafeteria together, I think everyone thought they were getting in trouble because it got really quiet. I gave my cooperating teacher, who insists everyone call her Princess Dinah, her gift, which was a whole bag of school supplies and some pictures and a calendar from Long Island. She is sort of scary, so I was nervous at what she would think, but she absolutely loved it all. The consensus was the same for everyone - for a sad goodbye, it was the best, and happiest way to go out.

There was a photo shoot at the end of the day. Most of the pictures look like this,
but worse because a student said he was a good photographer, but was actually awful.

The Princess herself.
Now, AMERICA... Thanksgiving! There was no turkey, no football, no turkey pants, no pie, and no family for anyone, so the day was difficult (I did have a few brews). I would say that for what we had, we had a great celebration. We went to a hotel/restaurant where we sat outside at our long dinner table and enjoyed each other's company and enjoyed our meal. Before the meal, we had a special dance performance, and a dance group that has been giving us lessons performed some prominent cultural dances. It was certainly different entertainment than I am used to at home. They entertained us, and then after a few cocktails, we were able to entertain them, I'm sure, when we performed the dance that we had prepared.  Our meal consisted of a bunch of pastas and spring rolls, and although not Thanksgivingish, it was quite good.

No matter where I am, I am thankful. I'm thankful for the opportunity I have to take this trip of a lifetime. I'm thankful for all of my friends and family at home who I cannot wait to get back and see. I am thankful for all of the new friends I have made here, both Ghanaian and American, because this trip would not be the same without them. I am a very lucky person to have all that I do, and to have so much love surrounding me, and I do not go a day without remembering that.

1 comment:

  1. After reading your blogs, I feel a bit regretful for having not put as much effort in my letter as I probably could have. It was a chance I had to set up a cultural exchange with these awesome students you've taught in Ghana, and I feel that my letter came off as a bit generic.

    So you're done. Six weeks of student teaching in Ghana. seems to have gone by even faster than the six weeks you taught us. Well, anyway, it's been awesome following this blog. I'm honestly disappointed that it is coming to an end so soon.

    I hope you'll be able to visit HF-L some time again in the future, and I wish you an exciting and impacting life.