5.5 weeks * 39 days * 936 hours * 51160 minutes

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 12-16: Working at Challenging Heights

After we arrived in Winneba, we settled in at our Guest house. We have truly found a gem here!!! The guest house is spotless with the cleanest sheets we have scene yet!!! The owners are wonderful people who have offered to teach us how to cook Ghanain dishes (YUM - we will be bringing our recipes home: fried plantain/yam, fufu, banku, and redred)!!! The guest house is 1/4 mile from the beach. If you sit outside the guest house under the cabana, you can hear the tide crashing from the shoreline down the road. Janaan, Leena and I know we are already spoiled. We are sharing a two bedroom with living room and private bathroom guest house at the compound. The students are across the way in individual rooms. There are also covered outdoor showers that provide a unique experience where you can look up at the coconut trees and shower under the hot African sun (a once in a lifetime chance to TRULY even out those tan lines!!!).

We have begun working at Challenging Heights - a school that enrolls children that have been rescued from slavery in the fishing industry or children who are at risk for being trafficed into the industry.

The first day we had an orientation with James Anann (a survivor of child slavery and now an administrator with Challenging Heights). James will actually be traveling to the States in the fall and speaking at GVSU in late October during Sustainability Week. Once we reviewed the schedule, we spent the day observing the classrooms. The school has three classes in the nursery (children range from age 4 to 9). In addition, there are classes from 1st to 5th grade. Each year they add another grade to their facilities. The nursery school is chaotic and lacks a lot of structure and curriculum based teaching. The 1st through 5th grade are more structured where teachers work from curriculum books. Starting Tuesday, we will pair off and choose a class to work with. Leena and I decided to take on the chaotic nursery. We will soon see if this was a good choice!

On Tuesday, Leena worked in the most advanced and oldest nursery classroom and then headed off to Lake Volta. I stayed behind with one of the students and worked at the school for the remainder of the week. I spent half of each day assisting in typing up exams (which will take place in two weeks) and the other half of the day working in the classroom. I had the opportunity to teach one of the nursery classes both mathematics and spelling lessons, as well as, assisted in grading exercise books. I stumbled through the language barrier (the young children are still in the process of learning English) ,as well as, the poor classroom management structure that is in place. The classroom is primarily managed through the threat of corporal punishment which doesn't seem to be really working and obviously myself unwilling to participate in managing the class in this manner. So it has been a challenging week to keep the children's attention and move through the lesson! My favorite part of the day is recess which takes place each day at 10:30 AM. The children love to play frisbee together. Each day I get involved in a competative match (where I think I hold my own pretty well)!

The student's will continue to work at the school next week while Janaan, Leena, and I attend meetings and work in the community to solidify information for the study abroad trip next year.


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