Spread Your Love All Around
We arrive early for our last day of this school week, and are greeted by one of the new spiritual leaders of this community. He inquires as to our mission and how many times we have been in Ghana. When Amy shares this is her 13th trip, he responds, “Oh, then you have brought your friends to meet your family.” We chuckle, as this is true. This warm start would not be the tone of the morning, but we will find it again in the classroom and before the close of the day. We step into Winfred’s P6B classroom, and begin to reconnect the students with their friends in 7th grade at Vail Mountain School. They are particularly excited to greet us, and their enthusiasm boils over when they each receive an individual class photo of their friends at VMS. We share the beautiful messages that they have created on t-shirts (their second set of projects because their first got lost in the mail in the US and never made it). The students quickly turn from the art on the front page, to the individual photos attached. They reference their friends' creativity, and begin to share their own messages about clean waters and planting trees.
There are students who stand out amongst us. They stand out in the attention they give during our time together. They stand out by the beams of light that radiate from their eyes. They stand out not only because they have participated consistently over the years, but because of their ability to articulate their thoughts and messages in a way that blows us away. Courage is one of those students. He expresses a largeness to life. He sits attentively, as if every word we speak is invaluable. He is an obvious choice for the new video we are creating; we have been selecting children, like him, to speak our story in their own words. He, once again, blew us away. Courage shared, “I’ve learned from this program that we have to enjoy each other, we have to love each other, and we have to save each other.” When we thanked him for sharing in the interview, he encouraged us to share his thoughts and appreciation with his friends at Vail Mountain School.
As the students quickly get to work, CIH veterans of three years, we hit the typical bumps in the road; cross-cultural miscommunications have arisen and we are beckoned, with urgency, to come speak. Leadership has changed on the RC Mixed Primary campus, once again - for the 4th time in the last three years. Our presence - on a campus where church and state are blended - has stirred questions that some are unable to answer, and this sets the dominoes in motion. We are urged to clarify, for each member in the campus hierarchy, our presence and our intentions. Kelvin and Amy have had this same conversation, with each changing of the guard, and at the end of a long week, feel somewhat exhausted from the need for repetition. We stand in a circle, Interim Head of the School, New Elder Father of the Church, a current teacher (whose classroom we have just completed with), and two previous teachers who have been called in to answer questions and share the history.
After some time of talking, in what feels like circles, we are released to return to the second classroom where we are scheduled to connect the 6th graders at VMS. Kelvin and Amy expedite this lesson, and get the students working kaba kaba. The circuitous conversation continues outside with new passers-by, which divides our attention and leaves us uncertain about the possibility of completion. Francis, and old friend and teacher since our start at RC - one of the few that knows the entire history - comes and holds Amy’s hand in the doorway while he updates. “Don’t mind them,” he shares, as he explains, once again, a change in leadership is the problem. “All shall be well." We know this. We are focused on the students, the goodwill and their expansion of identity as global citizens. As we depart from campus, complete with our projects, the Interim Head shares, “Peace will prevail."
We take to the street to hail a taxi to head to EP Primary to complete the Paideia School projects. The students are speckled, moving color in the schoolyard, deep into Friday games and invested in their groups. It turns out, we won’t be able to complete the project today - another typical Ghanaian bump. Amy makes her rounds to say goodbyes, and waits to speak to the entire school at the close of the day. At a stop in the KG classroom, she is treated to a song and dance by the smallest ones on campus: Clap your hands/Stomp your feet/Spread your love to all you meet - as they spin around, holding their hands outward.
And so our first week closes. In the broken misunderstanding of the world, challenged by miscommunications, we have done our best to be part of the healing. We have spread the love of the children in America, and from our own privileged hearts that walk with the community here, to all we have met.