Back to School!!
We were so excited last night when we heard that the strike was over and we would go back to school today! We still haven’t quite figured out how people know these things, probably radio (for those who have one) and word of mouth. No matter, school is in session and we are ready! Our materials have been ready to go for days. We have planned everything out so we can complete today at EP Primary in Ho. But wait, we have forgotten, this is Ghana, where the best-made plans may have to be put aside at the last moment due to some unforeseen circumstance. So, the first unforeseen circumstance: many children are absent. Is this because they haven’t gotten the news, or because Friday will be a holiday? We don’t know. Either way there are very few students. Second unforeseen circumstance: the teachers don’t seem to be holding class today. Some are in the yard, some are near their classes, others seem to be missing. Students are sweeping the yard and classrooms, playing, and otherwise entertaining themselves. After waiting a while for the morning assembly to start, and then realizing it is not going to happen, we decide to hold class ourselves.
While Kathee works with students from 3A and 3B to complete the earth mobiles for Mrs. Kiene and Mrs. Beckman’s second graders at St. Andrews School, Kelvin and Leslie head to Doris’s 6A classroom to complete the letters for Mrs. Smircic and Ms. Duval’s 7th graders. There are perhaps ten of the 45 students present in Doris’s class. Since there are so few students present it was decided that a group letter would be written. These students were set up and worked carefully and diligently on their own. They taped together several sheets of construction paper to make one large sheet for their letter. Writing with a variety of colored pencils and working well as a group they are soon finished. Meanwhile Veronica’s 5A students have already mostly completed their mural for Mrs. Calhoun’s 5/6 Chorus. They decided they wanted to add handprints with their names. This is very exciting for them and it got quite noisy and wild although they were working. Students lined up to get their hands painted, giggling with pleasure. They added extra handprints for their classmates who were missing, which was most of the class. Once this was complete they were ready to record their song. Only one student had the paper with the words but they all seemed to know it. After a few practice rounds they were ready, but they wanted to sing their own song first. We moved outside to record and they belted both songs out very energetically. Given that there were fewer students in Dzidefo and Leena’s 2A & B classes, as well as Richard’s 5B and Susan’s 6B classes we decided to return tomorrow to begin the projects for the Brownies, Cliff Valley 5th graders and Paideia students and moved on to RC Mixed Primary.
At RC Mixed Primary we find a similar situation: few students or teachers and no classes being taught. Because of this we combine 5A and 5B to work together on the mandalas for VMS and Cliff Valley 6th graders. After our opening circle and discussion on the environment and mandalas we hand out the projects from the US students. There are gasps and cries of delight as the Ghanaian students receive the lovely colored templates from Mrs. Blakslee’s class and the creative free form mandalas that Mr. Montgomery’s and Mrs. Stone’s class made. Students are anxious to create their own and began as soon as the materials were handed out. Most do free form mandalas coloring their favorite things from nature: the usual trees, fruit, and fish, but also a giraffe, the moon, the ocean, and the earth. They are quietly creative, sharing colored pencils without any problem. Some use a cup to draw a circle within their circle and add a variety of small pictures in the outside rings. Others drew larger pictures inside their circles. Many students enjoyed making more than one and others would have, if time had allowed. Because there is so little structure, students from other classes are hanging around the windows and doors looking in. At the end of class one student, with a very big smile, came up to make sure we passed a message on to his friends in the US. He said, if you see them make sure you tell them thank you and that we are so happy to know them. He also wanted us to be sure to tell them that their friend Courage says “Hi”. We think this is a, appropriate name for this enthusiastic and confident young man.
We moved on to EP Primary Sokode-Bagble, just outside of town, for Summit 5 and St Andrews School 7 matches, only to find the schoolyard relatively empty with classrooms shuttered and locked. On the first day back after the strike, school has let out early! Kelvin will have to complete these classes after we return to the U.S.