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Sep
14

First Day of School!


Well, even though there were not many backpacks or freshly sharpened pencils, yesterday was indeed the first day of school in the small village where I am teaching this year. I arrived at 8 am to greet lots of smiling faces, eager to have an Obruni teacher.   I think  the equivalent in the US would be if a green martian came to earth to teach the third grade, or maybe Mickey Mouse. It was very exciting for them.

While about 100 students attended the first day, the headmaster reminded me that about 200 more will register by the end of the week. There are to be 11 teachers for the school, but as of today, we only have 6. The children are fed breakfast and lunch at school (which is usually porridge and burnt rice, but you never see them complain!)

After breakfast the children gather for assembly. One aspect of the culture here that I find every interesting is the way that religions coesxist. We have three of four Muslim students even though the school is Christian. During assembly the children all pray together, in Christian prayer.

This was one of my favorite pictures that  I took yesterday. I asked one of the teachers how it worked with having Muslim students attending and praying at a Christian school. She looked at me like I was an idiot and replied, ” Well we all believe in God, so we pray together. After school she and her family will go pray at the mosque, too. But during school, she prays with us.” Her reply made me smile.

I was assigned my classroom and my class. The school is very bare bones, and I felt lucky that I had a chalk board and desks. That was all that was in the room. The walls and made of planks of wood with half inch gaps in between. It was actually nice to have the fresh air as it gets hot and humid (and the kids were kinda stinky…)

I was not given any sort of syllabus or curriculum on the first day, so I created an impromptu lesson plan as a way to test what the children already knew. This was a little tricky since none of them had pencils or paper, but I did some exercises on the board testing their math skills. Then we talked geography and science. They are pretty smart cookies. I asked what they wanted to learn about, most of the boys said math and most of the girls said English. Go figure. One of my favorite parts of the days is during recess, because that is when I get to go visit the nursery and play with the babies!

Today the women who work with me tied this little one on my back and I taught class as she slept! At the end of the day children were met by their parents or walked home.

It was a pretty interesting start and I am excited to create amazing experiences for my students this year. I am sure I will learn just as much from them as they will from me.

9 comments

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  1. Carrie says:

    I love the woman’s response about prayer! It really makes you realize how tainted our view of Islam is!

  2. Mignon says:

    Sy,

    I love how they approach prayer. Although they are doing it together, it is a private thing to the God of his/her choice. Do you see any teacher’s pets candidates? ;)

    Mignon

  3. John Golden says:

    Dear Sy,

    got get ‘em. You look great in your classroom and you made me miss Ghana terribly. I bet the kids are so sweet and helpful. And unlike many classes here in the good old USA, I bet they’re interested in listening to you! Thanks for keeping me in the loop. You look and sound great.! Ask the kids if they know the word Oh – boom – pah . It is one of the best examples of onomatopoeia in the Ga language. It means woman with a substantial backside ! But, it is a friendly term believe it or not. So be good, enjoy and God Bless.

    Hugs and love,
    jg

  4. Lila says:

    Yeah! First day of school! I am so proud of you and excited to hear how it all goes. Please let me know if there are supplies I can ship you…colored chalk, room freshner (lol), etc ! I can’t wait to tell Marcella about the burnt rice and the fact that you are like a green martian! Lots of Love! lila

  5. Brian says:

    Love this post Sy. Outside of Nigeria Muslims and Christians seems tog get along fairly well in at least West Africa. This is what I found to be the case of Liberia. Coexistence rules. And mixing and matching one faith with another is not seen as weird. Loved that woman’s response!!! I think it’s awesome you’re seeing all this… the world is a crazy place isn’t it? Love how traveling opened up my world. Didn’t realize you were from Mars

  6. Lola says:

    HI Sy – always good to read about what’s happening with you in Ghana. I’m glad the teacher gave you the response she gave regarding God. I’ve noticed from other posts that you’ve found the ‘religious’ aspect quite fascinating. As an African myself (and one raised in the West), I wanted to say that in Africa there’s quite a different context for religion than in the West. We are deeply spiritual people as a whole – most African languages contain many references to God in just day to day speech and it’s not really religion in the same way that Westerners see religion. There’s no real separation between God and every day life in the same way that say in the UK or US, people worship on a Sunday and relegate religion for the most part to just ideology. Even regarding what Brian says, in fact, in Nigeria (where my family is from), most Muslims and Christians get on very well. Boko Haram and the fundamentalists that have been showing up lately are very unusual to be honest with you… My mum’s best friend is Muslim, as are many others we know, and there has never been any issue with it at all – they go to the mosque, we go to church – simple. I find it’s more about an experience, a spiritual experience, than just about religion. So praying, for example, isn’t quite a religious exercise rather than a spiritual connection and exercise for every day living. I’m not sure if I’ve explained it properly…. Hope you get what I mean though. I think it’s a necessary context to have. God to us isn’t ideology or “religion” per se, it’s just about life and living…. faith, hope, love, peace, abundance and protection.

    1. admin says:

      Lola,

      Thanks so much for your comment, it is great to hear your thoughts about what I am seeing an experiencing and I love your comment about how God isn’t an ideology.

      Sy

  7. Spencer says:

    Simba – def my favorite post. I was so moved looking at those photos. The way you wrote it, I felt like a little sneak peak of your world. I was gonna say, walked in your shoes, but that would so far from accurate. I also feel so sure that something like this is so perfect for you. I got a little burst of anxiety trying to imagine coming up with a schedule for the day on the fly like that, but I’m sure you didn’t miss a beat. And if you did, it didn’t matter because I know they all connected with you because you so open and eager to help.

    Good on ya, mate!

    Spencer

    1. admin says:

      Thanks Spence!

      I am glad you can so related to my writing, it definitely makes a difference to know people out there are reading and relating to my thoughts. :)

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