All students, except for the student scheduled to arrive on July 9th, have arrived and called home.
They’re excited to begin their life-changing adventure in Ghana!
Photos and additional blog posts to be updated here in the coming days.
July 7, 2015
After a short meeting this morning, we headed out to our first day at the service site. Our school is about a 5 minute bus ride from our hotel, but still located in Anloga. One difference that sticks out to me especially is that there is no front office like I am used to. The school opens up right to the road and the hallways are made of sand. There is one building that holds all 7 classrooms and a library, while another is used as more of an auditorium type space. Once arriving, we had a chance to meet some of the teachers and the head master that work at the school. That was the easy work for the day and then we headed out to our brick making area. It was much harder work than I thought it would be. The sun was beating down and the heat was much more than I am used to. But still, after our first day our group used two bags of cement and made 54 bricks. Our goal for the rest of the trip is to use 3 bags of cement every day, or about 75 bricks. Tomorrow we will test to see if we can reach that goal.
Once we finished our brick laying we headed into the classrooms. I am co-teaching a level 5 classroom with about 35 to 40 Ghana students. I, as well as the rest of the group, am amazed at the kids’ eagerness to be at school learning. This is something we aren’t used to seeing back in the United States. All of the kids are so happy and try their hardest, something we are all trying to use to our advantage as we create our lesson plans for the next two weeks.
We finished off the night by listening to a local community leader share about traditions, culture, and marriage in Ghana. Many of us,
including me, were amazed at his ability to talk about his beliefs but still listen openly to ours. Talking about our beliefs and how they vary from those in Africa led us to a very interesting conversation, one that we will all certainly remember.
Tomorrow we go into our first day of teaching with open hearts and minds to a new culture.
– Kendra Cashman
After a delicious and nutritious breakfast of pineapples, crepes, and beautiful glorious toast, we headed to our brick-making activity in the avette-anloga primary school and anseco – avuma basic school in our separated mentor groups. After a hard morning of work we proceeded to our pairs to start our first day of spectacular and fun classes. I taught P6 with Rachel Selvin, and I liked it a lot because the kids are fun and creative but at the same time they are disciplined so the class is more manageable. Finishing our informative and well-prepared classes we headed back to home base to rest and have a delicious lunch, so we could have enough energy to go to the fabric market and seamstress to choose our clothing. Then we came back and had dinner.
Sincerely, Student Leader Of The Day,
This morning we started our day out with a wonderful breakfast full of protein and nutrients. Then after that we split up into our two groups
and made our ways to the service sites. It was a Saturday, so class was not in session. In my group, we made three bags of concrete, but we couldn’t have done it without the help of some local children who decided to come along. After we finished the three bags of concrete, we walked back to the Pin Drop hotel and had our lunch.
We had chicken, rice, and apples, it filled our stomachs and we were ready to carry on with our day. We met up as a group and talked about qualities that make a good, strong leader. For about 30 minutes, everybody shared their ideas, expressing what they thought made good leaders. We then began an activity where we all discovered everybody’s various leadership qualities. We then switched up into our mentor groups and went to the places of the day. The group I was in went to an Island in the area that was known for practicing a religion that involved the healing of human bodies through spirits and sacrifice. I never thought I would ever encounter people who believed in this type of religion, and I really appreciate the fact that I was able to learn about it and the people who have dedicated their lives to it.
To get to the island and back we had to all get into these two long and skinny wooden boats that were powered by the arms of two men using long sticks with a pointed end to reach the bottom of the lagoon and push the boats forward. When we got back to the hotel, we played with the local children for a little. They always have such a loving smile on their face and are always happy to see us. As it got dark, we went inside
and ate out dinners prepared for us by the great cooks who have been making all of our meals. After finishing our food, we all came together again to have our daily reflections. Today it was about what is happiness and what is it to you. This went on for a while, so by the time it was finished, we all went to our rooms and settled in for the night.
Today on this glorious Sunday morning, we had the incredible opportunity to visit a local church. It was such an eye opening experience; every person was full of life and energy while dancing to live worship music. The church as a whole welcomed us with open arms and we were all truly touched by how hospitable they were towards the strange foreigners, or as they say in Ewe, “Yevus”. I believe that I will be able to come home with a new way to express my religion with new insight on how other cultures celebrate my similar religion.
After our new experience, we had a delicious lunch which involved a new Ghanaian delicacy. This certain food is dome-shaped and it is dough called Banku which we dipped into peanut soup with fish. It was very interesting to try this new flavor from a completely different culture. We then were split up into our host family groups and were dropped off at our host family’s home. My group went to a teacher’s house where we played common Ghanaian board games similar to our “Sorry” and “Chutes and Ladders”. She also showed us how to properly pick and cut a coconut that she grew in her backyard and as we left, she promised that next time she would demonstrate how to make coconut oil.
When we came back to the home base, we all played with the local kids. I personally played a lot of soccer, not well may I add, and brought some American culture by teaching the locals how to throw a perfect spiral with the football. It was awesome to see how their faces would light up when they performed an action well. The ice cream man made an appearance and I got to witness first-hand the selflessness of a Ghanaian child when trying to buy me ice cream with the only money he had. It boggles my mind how kind they are.
Our discussion tonight was based around how Africa is perceived in the media. We all shared our personal stories regarding our expectations on Ghana versus what we actually saw. We all came to an agreement that the media portrays Africa in itself in a much worse way than needed. The truth being that Ghana is a beautiful place with kind-hearted people and a very traditional culture. Now, we all are preparing for another great day of new adventures.
Every morning GLA students head to service site after they finish their breakfast. Today at service site my team members and I, also known as “Good Vibes,” had more energy than usual and decided to use four bags of cement. That means we were able to make exactly 100 bricks that day. We felt really good about creating that many bricks because we knew what a great cause it was going towards. With each brick we formed we knew that it would help. We worked very hard with each and every brick because it was going towards building more classrooms. Every brick mattered because, just as the ocean would not be there without that one drop of water, the classrooms would not be built without that one brick. After a period of resting and recess with the kids my teaching partner, Rebecca, and I headed to our KG 1 classroom. Today we taught the eager kids math, specifically touching on counting coins. The day before I went to the local store up the road and purchased 24 chocolate coins for exactly 24 of my students. Rebecca and I laid down a white sheet of paper over the sandy floor of the classroom and formed our kids into a large circle. We laid out the coins and asked our kids to count them, and then continued to take coins away and add them back. The kids were practically unstoppable with their correct answers. Finally the best part came when the kids were able to eat the coins. I would take a chocolate coin toss it to one of the students and ask how many were left. This continued until all the coins were gone and every student received their treat. After a successful day of teaching we headed back to our home base. After eating lunch and resting the van came and brought team Good Vibes to Father’s House International. Father’s House International is a safe haven for 12 boys who were rescued from child slavery along Lake Volta. It all started when the owner, Jeremiah, realized his young friend Christian was missing. After asking around Jeremiah came to the knowledge that Christian had been taken to Lake Volta for child slavery. That information had started Jeremiah’s journey to saving Christian and 12 other young boys from child slavery. Jeremiah has been caring for these boys for over 4 years now. My team and I had the
honor of meeting these boys and playing soccer and volleyball with them. We were also given the opportunity to see a beautiful view of the shores of Ghana because Father’s House was conveniently located on the beach. It was a beautiful and meaningful way to end a successful day in Anloga, Ghana.
~ Katelynn Tewksbury
We started out the day with a delicious breakfast of omelettes, oatmeal, and toast. We then headed off to the service site at Anseco Basic School. Our team, called Positive Vibrations, used three bags of cement, which made 72 bricks. These bricks will be used to help build a new kindergarten classroom at the school. I can personally see how helpful this new classroom will be because I, along with Paxton, teach the kindergarten classroom which is currently located in a room called the library, in which there are 80 kindergarten students. After brick-making we headed to the classrooms. Paxton and I started the class off with a game they call “Stand Up Sit Down”. Then we reviewed counting and ABC’s. We also went over the hand movements to “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”, which all the students absolutely love. We then taught the students how to sing “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. They had some difficulty with the words, however tomorrow I’m sure we’ll have much more success as they continue to try their best. We ended the class with an exercise from the workbook where they had to copy patterns. We then went back to home base to have lunch. After lunch the group “Good Vibes” went to the market to buy food and then came home to cook it. My group, “Positive Vibrations,” stayed at the base to get our hair braided. After that we had free time to relax and to do stuff such as shower, nap, and talk. Then we had dinner, which was followed by playing with the local children. Every day the local children come to our base to play games and talk. They are always extremely happy, and it’s a very cool experience to be around so much joy. Then we all gathered inside to hear Jeremiah from Father’s House International talk. He spoke of his life and how Father’s House started. His talk was so inspirational. I know that I was extremely moved by his words, and I’m sure the rest of the group was too. So, all in all today was a great day full of experiences I’ll never forget.
– Claire West
Today we woke up and then ate breakfast at 7:00am. After breakfast our group walked to one school, and the other group took the van to the other. As we walked it started to rain, which felt refreshing in the hot sun. When we arrived at school we made bricks. Both groups used three bags of cement, which made about seventy bricks. Then it was time to teach the kids. Even though some kids don’t have a pencil, paper, or even shoes, they are full of energy and always smiling. It is so inspiring to see them filled with excitement to learn each day.
After service we came back to home base and ate lunch. Then we all got in the van and rode to the slave fort. First I saw a broken down stone building. It was hard to comprehend that I was standing in the place where so many terrible things have happened in the past. We walked in and saw the small rooms where slaves were kept with no windows or view to the outside world. We felt the scratches on the floor where slaves tried to find a path to escape. We touched the blood stains on the walls, which still remain from torture so many years ago. I can’t imagine how it was justified to dehumanize these men, women, and children.
After visiting the slave fort, we walked down the road to the beach. We relaxed there for a while, and then came back to home base. It makes me happy seeing the neighborhood kids all waving and running alongside the van as we come home each day. Then we played with the neighborhood kids for a few hours. At 6:00 we all went inside to eat dinner together. Next we went to our rooms and packed for our trip to Ho. We are leaving tomorrow morning, and I am so excited for our trip this weekend!
Today we’re headed off to Ho for the weekend! We all packed last night so we could quickly have breakfast and hit the road for the long car ride.
At 7:30 we got in the bus for the ride to Ho. Unlike in America, instead of putting our luggage in a trunk, or by our feet, our luggage was wrapped in tarp and put on top of the bus. Very cool. We all passed out right away and slept most of the ride so it didn’t feel so long. We stopped once at the gas station about an hour in, and bought snacks to last us. Our favorites are Hobnobs, Digestives, Vanilla wafers, Bourbon Cream cookies, and cream crackers dipped into peanut butter and Choco-delight spread.
After a 3 hour car ride, we finally arrived in Ho. Our first stop was at the Kente weavers, where we learned how to weave. There was 6 weaving stations on a big platform. We each got to try it. It wasn’t as hard to figure out as I expected, but it took me so much longer to do a stitch than the professional weavers. The weaver that helped me told me it can take him 3 hours to complete a full Kente fabric. It’s amazing that they do so many stitches quickly and accurately, with different colors too.
After lunch, we made batiks. We each got 1 yard of white fabric. We picked the color we wanted our batik to be, and chose a stamp for our pattern. When my name was called, I brought my fabric into the super hot room where there were big pots of boiling wax. One of the workers helped me maneuver the wax. I laid out my cloth on the table. The worker dipped my stamp into the wax and I pressed it into the cloth in the pattern I wanted. This was much harder than it looks. I had some trouble making sure each of the prints was lined up well with the last one, but regardless, they turned out beautiful. After we finished the wax imprints, the batik makers dyed our cloths, and then put the cloths into boiling hot tub of water to melt the excess wax off. They all looked so cool while drying, and came out so well!
Next we went to visit Village Exchange Ghana, which is an NGO where they take in pregnant women or women that lack the economic means for education. Village Exchange trains the women in local fields such as sewing or jewelry making. Their products are then sold and the proceeds go to the advancement of the lives of these women. We got to see and purchase some of the products they made in their small gift shop, which were really beautiful.
Finally after the long day out, we were off to the hotel. We were told we would be staying in a cave, so when we pulled up to a beautiful hotel on the top of the mountain, we were so excited. We swam in the pool with a beautiful view, and then had an amazing dinner in the banquet hall and went to bed.
This was a long but amazing first day in Ho!!!
Today was quite an eventful day, our only full day in Ho. We all relished in having hot showers and air conditioning for the brief time we were there, but didn’t mind leaving the comforts of our spectacular hotel to go on our adventures for the day. We woke up really early, as breakfast was at 6:00. Then we were off in the bus on our way to the Monkey Sanctuary. It was a long but beautiful drive as we drove through the green and foggy landscape of Ho. We wanted to get there first in order to feed the monkeys their breakfast before they got too full off of other tourists’ bananas. Once we got there, we all received two bananas to feed to the monkeys. The tour guide came to lead us all into the rainforest. We walked for a long time waiting quietly to hear the noises of the monkeys hopping through the trees. Finally, they emerged from the branches and began trying to snatch the bananas from our hands. When they realized we weren’t just going to give them the bananas, they jumped off the trees onto our shoulders and arms and sat there eating the bananas. We got some absolutely amazing pictures as we experienced this once in a lifetime chance to have a monkey sit on your shoulder and eat a banana out of your hand.
After the monkey sanctuary, we headed off on the bus again to go to lunch. We went to this tiny pizza shop and all ate super delicious pizza. We needed energy for our next activity, a hike to the biggest waterfall in West Africa. It was such a pretty hike through the rain forest, we were all very hot and dying to go swimming in the promised cool water awaiting us. Once we got there, we raced to change into our swimsuits and hopped into the water. The spray of the waterfall was so heavy as we got closer and closer to the waterfall that we couldn’t see anything as it stung our eyes to open them. It was lots of fun to swim around, and the waterfall was so stunning to see, as it towered over us. Thousands of bats hung on the walls surrounding the waterfall and it was cool to see them fly around although.
Once we were done swimming, we all hiked back down the mountain, through the forest. Afterwards we went shopping in the local craft market, where we purchased and viewed the beautiful works of the Ghanaian artists. Lots of us bought souvenirs for family and friends back home. Afterwards, we went to dinner back at the hotel. The food was soo yummy and delicious. Once all the food was eaten, we all participated in an activity where we wrote about our favorite memories and challenges of the trip thus far. It was interesting to look back and see all the fun we had done.
Very fun day.
Today we got a late start and woke up around 7:30 to get ready for breakfast which commenced at 8:00. We were all exhausted from the mesmerizing waterfall hike, monkey sanctuary, and driving, so it was nice to get some extra sleep. Breakfast was a feast which consisted of eggs, sausage, oatmeal, beans, and toast. After we were all stuffed, we headed out to visit the local orphanages, “Living Widows and Orphans Development Centre” and “Remar International”. Since there were so many of us, we split into our mentor groups as usual. My group “Positive Vibrations” headed over to the “Living Widows” orphanage. As soon as we arrived, a swarm of excited kids rushed at us and were all happy to meet us. We were welcomed by the entire organization of people and they taught us how to culturally dance as well as taught us about what their organization is about. The organization cares for 22 kids and provides them a free education as well as food and a place to stay. It was all an extremely interesting organization and situation and I am glad that we got to experience it. Both mentors groups joined back together at the hotel and we ate our last meal in Ho. Lunch was amazing with what seemed like a million different options to eat. Then, we all headed out on our adventure back to home base which was relatively quiet because we were all exhausted from the weekend. Ho was definitely one of the most incredible experiences and places that I have visited in my entire life and I enjoyed every bit of our little vacation from teaching and work site. Once we got back to home base in Anloga, all the local kids around the area greeted us with hugs and smiles and were glad to see that we had come back. I never knew how much I would’ve missed them all in just a few days so I was ecstatic to play and interact with them again. It was an eventful night with two hospital visits, however everything turned out okay and nothing major occurred. Dinner was delicious as usual and I was happy to be back to the place that has become my home away from home. Everybody crashed early so that we could all wake up early and be prepared for work site early the next morning. Thanks for reading.
We started this morning with omelets apples and oatmeal and then headed off at 8:00 for service site. Positive Vibrations stayed true to our name even when we were short on numbers today due to various traveler’s sicknesses. Today was Eid Mubarak, the last day of Ramadan, so the students at our usual schools did not have class today. Instead, we visited one of the local high schools to meet some of the students boarding there. We sat in small groups and got to know the students and what their interests are. We were given maps of Africa and the United States and we had to work in our groups to fill out as many countries and states as we could. After my group struggled with the countries in Africa they shared with me that schools here do not value geography as much as we do in the United States. This was interesting to me because in my school experience we had to memorize all of the countries in different continents throughout the years. Learning about the culture of Ghana through the eyes of people our age was very interesting. It was great to be able to have conversations with them and learn about what they want to be when they grow up. I loved having a conversation with students whose views are different but yet so similar to ours.
After we left the high school we returned to home base for lunch and free time to play with the local kids who visit us every day. Then we all got into vans and went to visit chiefs in Keta. Their names were Torgbi Kumassah and Torgbi Dzelu. We learned about how they became chiefs and what their responsibilities to the community are. They have duties and responsibilities to defend and protect their people. We returned to home base for dinner and then finished the night with watching Girl Rising, a documentary about the lack of girls’ rights and education around the world.