Let the Exchanges Begin

We worked further on scheduling today, which is a much longer process here that in America due to some of the cultural introductions, and language barriers at times, that take place. We were warmly greeted at R. C. Ho Bankoe, where we are scheduled to begin working with them tomorrow. The friendship bracelets made by Riverside Middle School in Augusta, Georgia will be passed on tomorrow- Thanksgiving Day. Soon to follow, will be the letters and murals from Oglethorpe Charter School in Savannah, Georgia. In fact, the mural and drawings that were passed on to Oglethorpe were due to the persistence of a 5th grade teacher, Sylvester Sowah. While he is no longer at the school, he did help prepare them for our arrival and showed up just as we were about to move on. Many of our friends here really go out of the way to connect with us, as they are so grateful for our presence and the connection with the American students.

We were introduced to a new school, which is affiliated with R.C. Ho Bankoe. When we turned the corner onto this schoolyard, the girls started jumping up and down and screaming with excitement. You might have thought we were a boy band walking into a group of teenagers given their reaction, but again, it is hard to describe what this connection means to them in words. Last trip, as the World Peace Flame was passed on in a closing ceremony that included this school, a teacher approached me feeling like the “girls” had been left out. I assured her we were not intentionally doing so and committed to connecting with them the next trip. We will share with them Brownie Troup 27405’s beautiful songs on Monday.

The highlight of the day was clearly the connection with E.P. Primary and passing on the first projects. We started by getting in a large circle holding hands with each student sharing their names. They then sang the circle song I taught them at the beginning of this year. We will be meeting with them for 6 afternoons. Seventy-five students have been chosen, and personally choose, to be a part of this after school hours. There was a quiet whisper in the room as they were handed their index cards from the 7th and 8th graders at St. Andrews School in Savannah. They intently read them many times, with curious smiles, and inquired where they needed translation. There was near silence as they focused on writing their cards, going back and forth from the one from their new friend from Savannah, and their response. Several of the teachers also joined us.  The significant majority of this group we worked with at the beginning of this year; they were formally paired with Normal Park Magnet School in Chattanooga, Tennessee and we will again pair them with Barnwell Elementary in Alpharetta, Georgia later in this visit.

We are a circle, within a circle… the students sang proudly. And we are, aren’t we?! These students just reconnected with students in America. The wheel has turned again, and the power of connecting children from these diverse cultures as they learn to know each other even more is enriching their lives.

Fall Exchange 2008admin