A Little Help From Our Friends
We were awakened early by the wind. The sky was dark and stormy. Kelvin has told us that when it rains in the early morning school will be canceled. The rain comes down really hard so the children are not expected to walk to school in it. We are fearful that we will miss our last opportunity in the schools. But no rain comes although the winds continue to blow and the cool air feels like a blessing. We arrive at EP Primary in Ho and are informed by the Angelique, the Head Teacher, that school will be closing early today – what? Thankfully, she calls the children together, more in number than yesterday, and informs them they should all go to one classroom to work with us so we can complete. We get by with a little help from our friends!
The children are eager as always. After the opening circle comes our discussion on the environment. This included many good responses with so many children present. “The environment is important because it is a natural part of us” was our favorite. Then we divide the students up, taking Susan’s 6B students and some of the other older kids to another classroom to work on Paideia’s group mandalas. Richard’s 5 B students, joined by others from a variety of classes, were enthusiastic and ready to begin with Cliff Valley 5th graders mandalas. They received the fabulous mandalas that Mr Jon-Eric and Mrs Eileen’s class sent with excitement and lots of talking. They examined them closely and read what Cliff Valley 5th graders had written. Then, just as eagerly, they set to work making their own to send back. Although there were many students in the room it was quiet as they drew and shared colors. We watched students use coins to trace perfect circles. They smiled while writing in colored pencil to describe what they had drawn. Hearts, flowers, peace signs and people made it into these colorful mandalas, symbolizing what these students love best about nature.
While they worked quietly and independently we moved next door with 5B and other older students. These students quickly moved desks to create space on the floor to work. The wonderful mandalas from Greg and Martha’s class at Paideia were opened one at a time and the descriptions were read. The students were quiet and wide-eyed as they studied the projects from the US. When asked, they told us what they like best about each. On the floor, in small groups, they gathered around Paideia’s mandalas and, using construction paper came up with their designs. These students worked with focus to put their colorful images on the paper. They worked well together, some drawing while others colored using the bright oil pastels. Stars, leaves, Adrinka symbols, mountains, rainbows, hearts, flowers, clouds, water and the sea are just some of the favorites in nature which showed up in these large colorful mandalas. As we walk around the room while the students work we notice previous project and photos from the US. To soon it seems, although the students are finished, our time is up. Students from both classes proudly display their work before waving good-bye to us.
We are not quite ready to leave, and are enjoying the hillside kids one last afternoon. We are procrastinating on packing, avoidance of the sadness in leaving, but we look forward to being able to bring this wonderful art back to the US to share.
School is now closed in Ghana until next Tuesday for Easter celebrations. We are leaving from projects and equipment behind with Kelvin. When school resumes next week, he will complete the projects from Summit 5 and St. Andrews 7th at Sokode-Bagble and the PACE Brownies at EP Primary Ho-Bankoe, while we return to our lives in the US. We are grateful for the opportunity to be here, even amidst navigating a teacher’s strike and a mad dash to the finish.