The World Was Once Wild
We started today with a new teacher who shared a beautiful personal story with the students in yesterday’s chapel. Elorm’s shared how this was a new day, and that the students should take stock with where they are in the class. In Ghanaian classrooms, each student is ranked according to their scholastic performance. Students know their ranking, and while it doesn't have a big impact in the lower grades, it grows in importance as the students progress into Junior and Secondary School. Elorm went on to share that he was, as a student, last in his class, but that he decided one day that he could do better. Little-by-little, he worked harder, and climbed the ranks in his class. The children roared at the completion of this story. We started today, by sharing how touched we were by Elorm's story, and we encouraged the children to embrace that message, not only for their personal growth and development, but for the attitude they possess about caring for the natural environment that surrounds them. We can all try to do better. In the brainstorming session of our lesson, the first child in Ghana mentioned that recycling is one means of dealing with waste. It was a perfect segue for the projects, handmade paper made from recycled paper, that we were sharing from the 5th graders at Cliff Valley school. When one student was asked to share what the project in his hands represented, he responded simply: "love."
We moved next to the youngest ones and our focus shifted accordingly. It was a calmer, smoother flow than our other classes have been. Leena’s classroom is perfection. Everything is in place, and it is tidier than any classroom we work with. This helped to set the scene for the students to enjoy a story. Their small eyes were glued, following each page as it was shared on one side of the rustic room, then the other. We quickly discovered that story time, especially coupled with beautiful images, can not only transport us to another place and stir our imaginations, but it can also help to keep the ideas fresh in the young minds of our participants. When we asked what they learned from the story - a tale about how everything comes from somewhere in the natural environment; a narrative about how the world once was wild - we are mesmerized as the students stand, one-by-one, and recite the story a line at a time. They retold the story in a beautiful moment of unplanned collaboration.
The calm eventually shifted to excitement as we passed around the recycled paper beads made by the 3rd grad students from Summit Charter school in Cashiers, North Carolina. The beams of light from their eyes shone brighter and brighter as we placed these handmade necklaces and bracelets on their bodies. They got to work quietly, and continued at a pace that caught us, once again, of guard; we were shocked with how quickly they grasped it. Mimi shared that she was touched by a child who wanted to match the necklace for friend at Summit. She looked at her gift from America and at the Ghanaian beads she was to choose to send back. She searched, back and forth with keen precision, looking for just the matching bead so that her friend in the US would like. We shared with Leena and the class just before we left, that they had been the most peaceful and engaged class so far. They roared as if a goal had been scored to win the game. They took pride in their work, and the collective process as well.
We moved next onto Emma’s P3 classroom to share the mosaics from St. Andrew’s 2nd graders. Cut and paste is always a favorite creative exercise here. The students love getting to use colorful paper and glue, and they beam brightly once they have put the finishing touches on their creations. Kenneth, in particular, captured our attention today. He held his own work - smiling from ear to ear - at the end of class with a great sense of pride. He stared at his work, in awe of his accomplishment and before handing it over for a long journey that will send it into the open arms of a friend in the United States. His contemplation, his enthusiasm reminds us what it means to be a child - a being with limitless energy and ideas that run wild like the tales we share during story time. Our hope is that Kenneth will, like the other children in his class, remember this pride and the hope that these colorful creations brought him today so that he, and his peers, can live to protect all that is wild in his heart and on this planet.