Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Our First Group this summer was made up of youth from North America (US and Canada). They were exceptional in their personalities offering much enthusiasm as well as expertise to our program. Being that there were Americans and Canadians in the collective group we were able to celebrate 2 national holidays all within the same session – Canada Day, July 1st and Independence Day, July 4th.
They met all aspects of the program with great enthusiasm. Their flexibility with respect to the Ghanian way of life was key to the success of their program. When there was too much down time at the bead making, they suggested going for a quick trip to the nursery (with a great surprise of ice-cream); when it rained, it didn’t dampen their experience; when we inserted a side trip to the fishing village, they gladly went along; when 150 locals people joined us at Sajuna, they played with them in the pool and assisted them with their swimming skills! They quickly learned how to role with whatever we had in mind to better the program.
Recollections of the first program:
- Toby’s 5:30am runs with the local running group
- Alexis, Hannah, Emily (Rebecca), Nina and Rachel speaking about the excitement in their elementary school classes
- Shan singing and drumming with the elementary students
- Grace sporting the ‘most undisciplined girl’ vest at Krobo Girls
- Malorie engaging 1 on 1 with the kids in the park
- Caitlin’s infections positive energy
- Emily’s stories of adventures
- Trinity, Nicole and Chloe sharing their stories about the nursery at mealtime
Summer Blog Posts
June 29 – Greetings from Krobo, Ghana
It’s been literally 23 hours since our last group of students arrived at Home Base. After travelling for hours all 14 students slept soundly until morning.
We awoke to a delicious breakfast created by Charity and her Team. After breakfast students participated in interesting ways of understanding the expectations of our program – focussing on the 4 Pillars of GLA – Leadership, Service, Adventure and Fun. During this time we also co-created group norms to set the tone for the next 14 days.
Off we went to the Nursery School where 4 of our students will be participating in their service work. The excitement of the children was infectious.
After a formal introduction, Larissa (GLA Mentor) and the students kicked into a variety of participatory songs involving movement – from hokey pokey to itzy bitzy spider. The children had a blast and our GLA student team quickly overcame their jet lag!
We went back to Home Base for a wonderful lunch and prepped for our second outing – this time to the elementary school in the Village where the other 10 GLA students will be participating in their service work. Still buzzing from the morning at the Nursery School – our team couldn’t have predicted what was about to descend upon us. The minute we stepped from the red dirt road onto the school property hundreds, and I seriously mean hundreds, of elementary students came sprinting towards us. Most of us walked up to the school with at least 6 children attached to one body part or another.
We met up with Nanaama, the Grade 6 teacher who showed us around the school and introduced us to the other staff,
We travelled the red dirt road back to Home Base with at least 60 elementary students.
While walking home we managed to get caught in a rainstorm – got soaked – but smiles still prevailed!
Dinner was followed by Henry (GLA National Director) telling us his ‘Story of Self’ plus a whole lot more. If you ask Henry “what’s one of the things you enjoy doing most?”, he will reply “telling stories”.
– Wendy Blain, GLA International Director
June 20, 2016
Hello family and friends of GLA students!
Today we got up around 7 am and ate a delicious breakfast of bread, fruit, and oatmeal. After this, we divided into our nursery and primary school service groups. We dressed for the morning, and headed down to the village.
The 4 nursery volunteers, Grace, Chloe, Nicole, and Trinity, prepared for their tiresome yet exciting morning at the nursery. They practiced the alphabet and taught basic English to the children. They also worked on shapes, numbers, and motor skills. They assisted the teachers and learned more about what the student’s curriculum entails.
The rest of the group – Nina, Rachel, Emily, Hannah, Ellie, Tobi, Sean, Lexi, Mallory, and Caitlin—spent the first part of their morning with one of the teachers, Anthony, learning how to make bricks for their library. In total, the group produced 5 bricks. The group got changed into proper teaching attire and went into the classes we were teaching. Nina, Caitlin, Rachel, and Hannah went into the fourth grade classroom, where they were learning about convection currents. In the fifth grade, Sean, Mallory, and Lexi got introduced to the students. In the sixth grade, Emily, Tobi, and Ellie began to interact with the students. The children were given a 50 minute break, where they danced and played games with the GLA students.
After a long morning at service, we headed back to the home base for lunch. Charity prepared rice, Ghanaian beans, and multiple sauces. After lunch, the students settled down for a short rest before the seamstress came to take our measurements for traditional Ghanaian clothing that we may choose to buy.
Later, we went down to Asitey Park where we got swarmed by excited children of all ages who wanted to play games and interact with us. We played leap frog, volleyball, soccer, and they taught us how to play different hand games and Ampe, a unique Ghanaian game. Many siblings of the children we are teaching in school showed up at the park. We came back to the home base to refresh ourselves before dinner. We ate pasta with peas, carrots, and a meat sauce as well as a vegetarian option. Afterwards, Charity and some other members of the staff brought us popcorn and plantain chips to enjoy while we watched a short TED X film about the power of a “single story”. We briefly discussed our thoughts and opinions of Ghana so far.
Currently, the GLA students are relaxing in the home base living room and sharing stories of their experiences.
Fondly, Emily and Rachel
Yesterday, July 1st, was republic day in Ghana, so we weren’t able to do our service. Instead, we stayed busy by visiting the Krobo girls high school next door. This school is regarded as one of the top schools in the country and many girls travel a long way to board at the school. The top students gave a detailed tour around the school and we were able to learn more about their life at school. We also went down to Asitey park and played with the kids. After dinner, Henry lit us a bonfire and we sat around telling ghost stories.
Today, we were able to sleep in because it is Saturday. After eating a traditional Ghanaian breakfast, we took a short van ride to the Queen Mother’s house, the most respected woman in the Krobo region. Once we were there, we had the opportunity to ask the Queen Mother questions and talked about her role in society. We also made our own batique fabrics designs, by stamping our design dipped in wax, onto a piece of cloth. Then, we each chose a color and dyed our cloth. After we watched the women remove the wax from the cloth, we left them out to dry.
After visiting the queen Mother and making crafts, we came back to the home base and ate a tasty lunch of jollof rice, chicken, and small apples prepared by Charity and the staff. We then hopped back in the van and went to the local market. Once there, we shopped for fabrics that the local seamstress can eventually make into an item of clothing. The market was extremely hectic but we had a nice time.
After a nice afternoon visiting the market, some of the group came back to the home base and everyone else went back to the Queen Mother’s house to finish their crafts. Those of us who came back to the home base went down to Asitey park again to see the children who we are starting to form close relations with.
The group met up again in the evening for a yummy dinner with multiple types of potatoes, chicken, fresh mangoes, and fish. Then we had some time to debrief and play games before Henry came to talk to us.
– Emily and Rachel
Hello family and friends of GLA students,
We hope you had a good weekend and a great 4th of July. The GLA students have been very busy for the past few days and are getting some much needed rest tonight.
On Sunday, students had the opportunity to go to one of the local churches to experience a typical Ghanaian church service. Most of the students went to the church and participated in singing, dancing, and listening to a preacher along with the local people. We also had a chance to make an offering to support the church. After a nice lunch of rice and chicken, we played some games involving trust and compassion then wrote about our experiences with those games in our journals. Right after we finished our games, it started pouring rain and the students enjoyed running outside in the rain and getting a break from the heat. Once the rain cleared up, we went to Asitey park to watch a soccer game and played with the children. Before dinner, students relaxed at the home base. In the evening, we played a game led by Larissa (GLA mentor) involving our strengths and weaknesses. Then the seamstress came to collect our fabrics and take our orders for traditional Ghanaian clothing.
On Monday, students had breakfast at 7am then prepared for a full morning at the nursery or junior school. The students working at the nursery taught basic English and kept the children entertained all morning. At the elementary school, we built a lot of bricks and learned how to do the mixture for the cement properly. Then we went into the classrooms and taught our prepared lessons for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. After a long morning, we returned to the home base for a BBQ lunch and games. After lunch, a local artist/merchant came to the home base to teach us about the history of art in Ghana. He brought a lot of artwork made locally and students had the opportunity to purchase wooden art, beads, paintings, drums, and more. Then we went to Asitey park again to see the kids and play soccer with them. Some students also went running with a local group of runners. In the evening, we dressed up in some traditional African outfits and put on paint for the Krobo naming ceremony led by Henry, the staff at home base, and the teachers from the school. The Krobo Naming ceremony is traditional in this part of Ghana and it is when children are named on their 8th day of life. Ironically, our ceremony took place on our 8th day in Ghana. Students had a lot of fun receiving their new names and the local children were extremely excited to hear them. Henry also taught us about Dipo, an ancient tradition in Ghana.
Today, students ate breakfast at 7am and quickly got ready for their busy mornings. At the nursery, the 4 students taught the toddlers songs, watched them rehearse their dance for graduation, and got to try backing babies (the method most women use to carry small babies here). At the elementary school, we built 7 more bricks then got changed into our teaching clothes and separated into our groups corresponding with the grade we are teaching. In 6th grade, we split the kids up into reading, writing, and conversation groups so that the students could work with us on their English skills. After that, we came back to the home base for lunch at 12:30. Then, the tired students had a short nap before heading out to the Krobo Girls high school again. There, we got to observe a class of our choice and get an up close look on what the girls there learn. Then we went to Asitey park before having a nice dinner of chicken and Spanish style rice with fruit. Tonight, Henry talked to us about traditions in Ghana and we got to ask him any questions that we thought of this week.
Fondly, your GLA students (Emily and Rachel)
July 7, 2016
Yesterday, we slept in until 9, and ate a delicious breakfast of porridge and fruit. After this, we packed into the van and headed over to the fish markets by Volta Lake. The markets were very crowded, and mostly women were selling foods and other products to make a living. We walked down to the shore and talked with a local fisherman and his family to learn about how they build their fishing boats.
Once we returned to the home base, we ate a lunch of rice balls with a peanut sauce. Then, we split into two groups; one learning hawking (the traditional method to carry things in Ghana), and the other preparing food with Charity and her staff. We had some down time, which many spent relaxing or playing games. Our dinner at 6:00 was pink rice with an egg sauce.
After dinner, we did a student-led activity and examined a mystery with Larissa.
Today, we woke up very early at 6:30am to go to a bead-making place before the sun got too hot. We watched the workers there crush the glass for the beads then we got to put the glass powder into the molds for the beads. After that, we sat and watched the people put the beads into the fire. We spent the majority of our morning at the bead place with the exception of our short visit to the nursery. At the nursery, we sang and played games with the kids. Henry also bought us ice cream today and needless to say, we were extremely happy.
Upon our arrival back to home base at 12:30, we were greeted with a great lunch of rice, mangoes, and a chicken sauce. Then we had planned to go back to the bead place to paint our own personal beads but it was canceled due to the pouring rain. Instead, we relaxed for a while before going down to Asitey park to see the children.
After the park, we came back to home base and ate white rice, chicken, and pineapple. Then we played some games and debriefed our day.
We look forward to sharing more of our adventures with you soon
– Your GLA bloggers (Emily and Rachel)
July 9, 2016
We hope you’re doing well and are excited to reunite with all of us in a few days.
On Friday, we had our last day of community service. The 10 of us who volunteer at the primary school made our last bricks and had our last class with the children. The other 4 spent their morning saying goodbye to the toddlers at the nursery. The seamstress came with our final clothing items and we were able to try them on. After this, we went down to Asitey Park and played with the children. In the evening, Henry played a few videos for us about stereotypes of Africans, videos of past GLA trips to Ghana, and his own wedding photos to show us what a traditional Ghanaian wedding looks like.
Yesterday, we hiked two miles at Boti Falls, which was about a 45 minute van ride from the home base. We got to see a gorgeous view from Umbrella Rock, and had plenty of photo opportunities. We had a picnic lunch of jollof rice and chicken. Many of us bought Ghanaian ice cream, FanIce. Once were back, we all went to Asitey Park and had fun with the children.
Today we went to Sajuna Beach Club. At Sajuna, we went swimming in the pool, went on a boat ride, played volleyball, read our books, ate a picnic lunch, and went kayaking. Sajuna was a nice closing to a great two weeks in Ghana. On our way back to the home base, we stopped at a bead market to shop for bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Then we came back home and quickly got ready for our last day at the park with the kids. We said our goodbyes and some of us even wrote the children letters. This evening, Charity prepared our last supper of pasta, chicken, and mango. Then we watched a slide show with pictures from this week and reminisced about all of the good times we have had in Ghana.
As we prepare for our long journeys home, make sure you stock your fridges with lots of food and get ready to hear all about our experiences in Ghana!
We look forward to seeing you very soon,
Your GLA bloggers,
Rachel and Emily