Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Wow! How time flies! I can’t believe it’s been a couple of months since we parted ways at the airport in Ghana. It almost seems like a dream, doesn’t it? Taking a look back on all of the wonderful things we experienced together brings a huge smile to my face whenever I think about it. Every single one of you has made an impact on my life and I will never forget our time together.
By now you are all settled back into your lives at home, but I wanted to take a step back in time and revisit the amazing things we have accomplished together. First and foremost- give yourselves a big pat of the back for the all of the hard work and dedication you put into the community service. It wasn’t easy that’s for sure, but it was worth it. Not only did the community feel the impact, I know that each and every one of you has felt it as well and that is unbelievable!
Let’s not forget all of the community members we interacted with including our host families, the teachers, Jeremiah and the members of Father’s House, the children that came to play with us every day, and of course Dodzi, Stephen, Wisdom, Sweetie and all of the kitchen staff. Each of these people have left an impression on our hearts and they will always be there. No matter what we can always look back on those crazy monkeys and their bananas, the beautiful waterfall, the GLA Olympics, and most importantly, all the new friends and memories we made and appreciate what we have.
I hope this summer has left you with sprouting seeds of not only self-development, but also community development. I hope you continue to do great things and you have a greater spark to explore the world and yourself. Don’t’ forget to appreciate the little things in life, because often those are the best.
You made my summer so special and I thank you all so much for it! I came away a different person and it’s all thanks to the students, the mentors and the local community. This summer was simply unforgettable!
I wish you all the best of luck this school year! I hope our paths cross again!
- Lindsey finally holding a baby that didn’t cry
- Amanda the silent “killer”
- Andrew asking Stu to rate movies…ALL THE TIME
- Nicole and Jenna- Southern Mass girls!!!!
- Joanna- Minnesota girl (From Mel!)
- Say no to……
- Josie and her great puns
- Kassandra tripping all the time
- Kerry being amazing at improve
- The mentors switching rolls during improv
- Malaria L
- Rania’s bargaining skills
- Staph’s love for Chaco’s
Summer Blog Posts
We all arrived at home base safe and sound and we are in the midst of getting to know each other and the local culture. Stay tuned for more photos and updates 🙂
Hello to all of our wonderful parents and supporters! Today was our first day altogether as a group, out in the community. After breakfast we split up into our three mentor groups and headed to our assigned school! We were bombarded with joyful smiles and energetic hugs, and then taken on a tour of the school. Afterwards, we started brick making for about an hour. It was amazing to take part in a project that will be a foundation for future education. Once we finished, we walked throughout the schools and got to observe the different classes and get an idea of who we’ll be teaching for the next few weeks. The children were so genuinely happy to see us, it definitely got us all hyped to start teaching tomorrow! We went back to home base and had lunch. We then split up into groups and took a walk through the community. We asked the Ghanaians questions about their culture and how they interact with the rest of the community. It was eye opening to see how the locals live every day. Following this, we got free time which included a trip to the nearby beach with the local kids! We had a delicious dinner and cooled down with a couple of activities led by the leaders of the day. Our day ended with some lesson planning to prepare for our first day of teaching tomorrow! We hope you enjoy the attached pictures and stay tuned for upcoming blog updates! Thank you for supporting us on this once in a lifetime opportunity; this is sure to be a journey none of us will ever forget.
The ecstatic and grateful 2016 GLA Team
[Written by Abby Riggs (Hi Mum, Odalles, Josh and KK! Miss and love you all) and Tommy (hi mom. I would say hi to other people but they won’t read this)
Day 4 of this Ghana service trip was started off right, with a hearty breakfast of veggie omelets and freshly diced mangos. I mention this because it is safe to say that our chef’s creations have become a favorite amongst the group; no meal of his will be forgotten. Next on our agenda was our much anticipated service at the local schools. Meticulous preparation of lesson plans the night before made for satisfied and attentive students this morning, when the GLA students became teachers for grades P1 though P6.
We then transitioned into brick making, a workout that we have found rewards us physically and mentally. Not only has brick making bettered our sense of communication and unity within our mentor groups, but as individuals, we do feel as though a greater sense of purpose and worth has been revealed within us, as individuals. There is something unconditionally uplifting about first touching the education of students in the classroom firsthand, then then proceeding to walk outside and build our stack of bricks higher, assisting an entirely different, yet equally monumental aspect of their education.
Proceeding our service was lunch (which was delicious), as well as some time to rest. We then jumped into our next activity, where we were split into 3 different groups, each with a different destination. Group A headed to Father’s house, a home for young victims of human trafficking and child slavery. There, they were given a brief history of father’s house, given a tour, and given a chance to play with the youth residents. Group B went on an island tour to one of the local islands, where they farmed, toured the market, and road in boats. Group C participated in a Ghanaian cooking lesson, and was also given the chance to use some WiFi.
We ended the day with a delicious meal, some silly improve games, and a rain dance. Overall, it was another day packed with accomplishment, fun, and change here in Anloga, Ghana with GLA.
Today’s Group Leaders
July 23rd – New Photos!
As Hannah Montana once said, “Nobody is perfect” and Saturdays leaders of the day have taken this to heart and finally started the blog. First off in the morning, each mentor group went to their respective schools and built three bags of bricks each! The mentors were so impressed with each group because of how quickly we picked up on the technique. Then we came back and had lunch and free time. Free time is filled with bonding with each other and the neighborhood kids. After that everyone broke up into 3 smaller groups to participate in various community excursions including a cooking lesson, visiting a local island, and Fathers House, a house for traffic children. After each group returned to him base, we had more free time, then watched a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called The Danger of a Single Story. The TED talk hit home for a lot of us about our own unintentional judgements of others and really opened our eyes to how important it is to take what we see at face value and not add in our assumptions, whether it be in Africa or at home. For all of us, it was a lesson in humility and attitude. The remainder of the evening was filled with more bonding and plan making for the next day.
All of us are so happy to be on this program and we know that we are being changed in ways we can’t even imagine yet as we progress toward the next steps in our lives.
July 24, 2016
Today we went to the market. The 35 of us split up into two different groups; one went to the Keta Market and the other to Anloga Market. We were given a list of foods to buy for the kitchen at Home Base and 10 Ghanian Cedis to pay for it all. We had to barter for the prices and navigate Ewe, a popular language in Ghana, to get the foods we needed. My group and I went to the Keta Market, which seemed to be a large outdoor marketplace with goods ranging from foods to fabrics to shoes and purses. My group found almost all of the foods on our list but yams (too expensive) and avocados, which we actually just couldn’t find.
Then it was time to buy fabrics. We all had exchanged money already and had more than enough to buy fabrics. I partnered with Amanda and Gabi and we went to so many cool little stalls filled with colorful fabrics. I was really picky about what to buy and didn’t end up buying any fabric until the last second, while Amanda bought everything she loved. I got four different colored fabrics, but some of the others bought seven or eight fabrics.
Then we had to drive to the seamstress to get our clothing outlined and ordered. We split up into two different seamstresses and lined up to get measured and have our fabrics made into clothes. I ended up having two wrap skirts and a pair of pants made for me and a dress made for my sister. We will go back there in about a week to see how they turn out and test the fit before we pay for them.
Next, we went back to the Home Base to have lunch with our host families. My groups’ host was Mr. and Mrs. Hope Adraku, but they ended up not being able to come. They are involved in the voting registration, so they couldn’t leave until later on. My group and I met them later at their house and got to play Adi, which I’m told is just like Mancala. It’s really fun and simple to learn, but it’s all about strategy. Our host family played for us and told us where to move the marbles, and when we got back to base, we found out that GLA has the same game at the base!
The store down the street was open later on and I was finally able to try Alvaro, a popular soda here. It’s always a mystery as to what flavor you’ll get though because there are three different ones and the woman picks them from the back of the counter. The pear flavor tastes like sparkling apple cider just to give you an idea.
Later on, we went through our debrief and did Venyasa, which was the leader of the day activity led by Dariah. It was raining outside, so we moved the furniture in the summer house and did it there. It was a very relaxing way to end the day, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
July 25, 2016
Hello parents, siblings, relatives, and friends of students on the Ghana GLA trip. We had another amazing day in Anloga, starting at 7am when we woke everyone up for breakfast. After breakfast, we split up into mentor groups and headed to our service sites for brick making and tracing.
The brick building competition among the 3 mentor groups is getting intense, with each group trying to make the most amount of bricks each day. We measure our success in the number of bags of cement we go though, with Mel’s group being the winners today, going through 4 bags.
For some groups, today was the first day teaching our classes. Many of us were quite nervous last night, trying to come up with lesson plans for 60 students. But all of us survived without having being hugged to death by any of the students.
Although lesson planning for teaching can be stressful at times, our teaching partners, amazing mentors, and local staff are so supportive and and it much easier for us. The kid’s energy, especially when teaching lower grade levels, can sometimes be overwhelming. But seeing them so excited about learning motivates us to come up with new and creative activities that we hope they will enjoy.
So far, all of us have had a blast, both with brick building as well as teaching. In the coming days, as we gain more experience and knowledge about how Ghanian classrooms work, teaching will become more natural and familiar to us.
Our afternoon activity for today was listening to two of the four mentors talk about a field they had extended background in. Lindsey talked about other GLA programs, Mel discussed life after GLA, Ari talked about her time in the Peace Corps, and Stu talked about teaching English in foreign countries.
Tonight we will be having movie night, and watching Life of Pi!
I hope that was a good summary of how things are going here in Anloga. As we have been here for almost a week now, we are becoming familiar with the daily routine of how things work.
Thank you once again to all the parents that helped to make this trip possible for their kids!! We are so appreciative of all your support!
-Emma and David
Today started out how most weekdays do: breakfast at 7:15 and service work at 8:00. After indulging in toast with eggs and avocado we headed out to school. The “melephants” (my mentor group) started by making 3 bags of cement worth of bricks and then moved on to teaching. Teaching took around an hour to complete. After teaching we all went to home base for lunch. Lunch today was a medley of items, most significantly salmon and banku. Lunch was followed by a quick weekly evaluation which was given to each of the GLA students to fill out. We then left for a river tour to a beach, this took up the middle of our day. While in the boats we saw beautiful sights surrounding us on all sides, and ended at a wonderful beach with calm water. At the beach there was soda and coconuts to buy as well as volleyball to play. This was extremely fun for everyone. After the boat ride back to the cars and the car ride home, we ate dinner and started our leader of the day activity. Dinner tonight was spaghetti and tomato sauce. Sophia and I then conducted our activity after making a few shout outs to the group. Our activity ended up being museum and a small amount of telephone.
Once this concluded, Dodzi talked about education in Ghana which was extremely interesting. After a long day, we lesson planned for tomorrow and got to sleep. Overall, today was fun filled and exciting throughout.
-Sophia and Grace
All of you must be extremely intrigued to hear about what kind of adventures your kids have experienced so far in Ghana. As soon as I found out that students would be writing the daily blogs, I could hardly contain my lips from turning upward into a smile. A couple days in, my mom had texted me that she saw my picture up on the blog; I was overjoyed at this small website that could serve as a connection (other than that of a shared student phone with a strange number) between student and parent. I’m glad now that I have the chance to write for not only my mom back home to see, but all of you who are just waiting to know what exactly had been going on around here.
Today we all woke up early for breakfast at 715am. I’m personally a fan of these early morning wake ups because I’m able to get numerous amounts of task done and be able to feel exhausted before noontime. This is partly because I know that once I get home, I will never again be waking up so early. After enjoying our breakfast of toast, pineapple, and an array of cooked bell peppers and onions, we left to go to our schools to teach the children and build bricks.
After almost a week of teaching ages from six all the way to 20, I’ve been able to see the growth in the way these students learn and think. Although my teaching partner and I haven’t been teaching a stable lesson these days, we both see an improvement in participation, comprehension, and even obedience. These once rambunctious kids in my Primary 2 class have now become more attentive and eager to play games that fit with their learning style.
In other cases, making bricks is a task that should not be taken lightly (or heavily, for that matter). I’m personally able to fill a bucket–the size of which we hand wash our underwear in–with my sweat within the first 10 minutes of mixing dirt and concrete. But over time, seeing our finished rows of cement blocks encourages us to keep going in order to see their future use as a new building for classrooms.
Long service days breeze on by with the thought of lunch–something besides water to keep us hydrated in our stomachs. Traditional Ghanaian dishes await us, using common ingredients like beans, chicken, and rice completely reinvented to develop a new dish foreign to our tastebuds. I learned later that it was a Ghanaian take on Chipotle, something almost all of us have been craving lately (Hint: Get them Chipotle when you pick them up from the airport).
Some free time made itself available after lunch, before we divided into three groups in a rotation containing: Father’s House (orphanage for children rescued from child slavery), River Tour, and Cooking Lessons from our personal chefs at Home Base. Today, my group was the last who had not had a turn at Father’s House. After embarking on a 20 minute drive, we arrived at a trail where we walked through tall grass to arrive at Father’s House. My group and I were greeted warmly to Jeremiah, who is the current keeper of the house. He went into detail about the start of the building and his journey to recover one of the kids from slavery. Looking around at my peers sitting on the wooden benches around Jeremiah, I noticed their faces as he gracefully opened his heart out to us. We later took a tour into the house, as well as had time to interact with the kids by playing soccer with a beautiful beach view.
Fast forward 20 more minutes and there’s ramen at home base and fresh watermelon (but not without plentiful amounts of black seeds). And don’t worry, there were vegetables in the ramen Mama– carrots to make my eyes better. And yes, I ate a lot of them.
Jeremiah came later in the evening to talk to a small group of us about Leadership and Child Slavery, while Dr. Ayim spoke about Healthcare in Ghana. I was in Jeremiah’s group and was captivated by his interaction with us. At the end he posed a question to our group: When you go back home, what would you change and how? Many answers were insightful, such that as ending racial stereotypes and embracing cultural diversity.
In the common room (a shared community room with semi-comfortable couches), I’m currently ending the blog. Looking around, I’m sitting next to really great people that I wouldn’t have taken a second look at on Day One. These faces I didn’t remember when they introduced themselves have turned into faces that have introduced me to new friendships.
Although I was extremely nervous about being Leader of the Day (shoutout to Sunnie, my LOD partner), being surrounded by supportive people that I call close friends has made it that much better.
July 30, 2016
Hello parents/guardians! This is Kerry Dolan and Maddie Lerner reporting to you live from the beautiful hotel and city of Ho! Today was quite the adventure: we started our day off with breakfast at 6:30 am (Yikes!), the monkey sanctuary, lunch at Carlito’s, then the tallest waterfall in West Africa! Sadly, tonight is the last night of our surreal two-night, three-day excursion in Ho. However, tomorrow will be just as fun! Anyways, back to today. This morning, after breakfast, we traveled roughly 45 minutes to the monkey sanctuary where the monkeys climbed on us like trees and ate bananas from our hands! Afterwards we drove to have lunch at Carlito’s and filled up our pizza fix. Once we had stuffed ourselves, we traveled an hour through the roads of Ho to the waterfall! Eventually arriving, we started our 45 minute trek through the lush rain forest (staying true to its name), until we approached the water itself, already drenched. We swam, dipped, and splashed around until we decided to venture back towards the entrance of the rain forest. Once down, we looked through the crafts fair and began the car ride back to the hotel! We made it back safely and even had a delicious dinner awaiting us! Well, that’s all for today, folks! Thanks for reading today’s blog by Kerry and Maddie!
Over and out, Houston
July 31, 2016
We started our day with traditional African Weaving known as Kentay Weaving. Kentay means “open” because the weaving is believed to connect your spirit with your soul.
We had a long drive back to home base from Ho. 40 people were squished into two white vans for three and a half hours. It was claustrophobic because every single seat was occupied by a sweaty teenager or an adult that was brave enough to supervise 35 teenagers for three weeks. Our luggage was shoved into any remaining space. I could only see a handful of students because the suitcases and over stuffed duffle bags created walls. This reminded me of tiny office cubicles that run Corporate America. In the future these cubicles will be occupied by robots that are 10 times faster and 10 times smarter than the human race. (I read a lot of science fiction).
Anyway, when we finally arrived at home base our energy level spiked because the seamstress was there with our tailored clothes. Unfortunately almost everyone’s clothes were too small. The clothes I received looked like they were made for a small child. I suspect this is because the seamstress used our exact measurements to make the clothing. However, when making clothes you are supposed to add several inches so the clothing is not skin tight. Luckily some of us were able to swap clothing with each other and request alterations. There was also a lot of extra clothing that was for sale. Many people exchanged their personally tailored clothing with extra clothing that fit better.
Since I am little, I’m only 5,1 and 110 pounds, I was able to take some of the clothing that was supposed to be for people much bigger than me. (There are perks to being a little person.)
When we were finished with the seamstress we had some free time before dinner. A handful of us played a game called Egyptian Rat-screw which involves a lot of slapping the correct cards. It is a very rambunctious and loud game. My hand temporarily turned red from all the competitive slapping.
That was a lot of fun. Later we had a dinner of cous cous and beans, chicken, green salad, and fruit salad.
Now it’s 8:45pm and I’m laying in my bunk bed and typing this blog under the notes section of my iPhone. Tomorrow morning I will Airdrop it to the blog. That’s all for now.
Thanks for reading.