My body decided that it wanted to hurt my feelings this morning and wake me up around 6:30…I decided to teach it a lesson by lying in bed until 715 until I grudgingly rolled out of bed to get some breakfast. The choice this morning was…you guessed it! Eggs and pineapple but we had the option of grilled beef sausages (which looked and tasted suspiciously like hot dogs).
After I finished eating I had to rush upstairs to iron a button down shirt, as this would be my first day teaching, I had to make an impression. I feel my choice of white shirt, navy blue shorts, brown belt and brown sperrys were just enough to make an impression AND prevent me from soaking through everything.
My travel group was ready to go by 815 so we headed out to catch the first of our two taxi-long journey. This morning I had a few jitters about standing in front of a class of nearly forty seventh graders for seventy minute periods, so I put on my headphones and let John Legend tell me how I was just an ordinary person. The first taxi that stopped for us tried to negotiate a fare of 5 cedis per person (the cedi functioning similar to the dollar) when we knew a normal price was 60 pesuas (equivalent to the cent). I functioned as the spokesperson and asked him for a normal fare and when he insisted upon five cedis I waved him off and found another taxi. I may be an obruni but I certainly am no sucker. Either way, our luck with the next two drivers was much better and we made it to Ghana National Basic School by 9 am…along with an enormous group of clouds promising to cleanse the face of the earth clean of all impurities.
School had already been assembled since 7 am so Natalia and I asked around to locate Nana Gyean (pronounced John) to orient us as direct us to our classrooms. When we found him the heavens opened up so we had to sit in his office while we waited for the rain to subside (the roofs are tin so teaching would be nearly pointless trying to compete with the sound of the rain). Nana Gyean talked to us about Ghana and gave us inside cultural knowledge while we waited. When the rain let up I headed to class and was told on the way there that my assigned level would be changed to sixth AND seventh grade. All I could do was roll with the punches.
The sixth grade class was so welcoming that teaching them for seventy minutes about adverbs, phonetic spelling and vowel pronunciation was rather enjoyable. I was even able to participate in the integrated learning initiative with the visually impaired students in the classroom. An excellent experience to say the least.
Around 130 pm I was finally relieved of my duties as school was let out early due to the torrential mid morning rainfall. Natalia was done too so we headed down the hill to Cape Coast school for the Deaf.
Instead of looking for the other three Davidson students that were around the school, Natalia and I chose to mingle with the deaf and learn some sign language. A young boy, around five or six, took me by the hand and sat me down on a ledge, hopped onto my lap, took my hands and wrapped my arms around him in a tight hug. By this time I’m used to the Ghanaian concept of personal space and hugged the young boy while other kids crowded around me to touch the hair on my arms, legs and head. They were fascinated and inspected me for about an hour, until a boy about thirteen came up to me and took it upon himself to begin teaching me sign language.
Not knowing sign and sitting in the middle of a school for the deaf is one of the boldest things I have ever done, I had no idea what anyone was saying except for when they asked me what my name was, I knew the answer to that one. From that starting point the young boy who was teaching me sign, who’s name is E-temple shoulder (the deaf use the first letter of the first name and touch any combination of body parts, from head to waist, as their name) but is called Headmaster, taught me how to say: cow, fish, deer, duck, hen, boy, girl, man, woman, mother, father, friend, God, Jesus, you, me, have, my age, Ghana and airplane. By three o clock I felt like I could communicate with the children to the point of friendship (open hand, thumb to chest).
By three we had all arrived at Cape Deaf and were ready for another grueling three hours outside of our comfort zones learning African rhythm and dance. After dance/drumming class we came back to the guest house for a delicious dinner of meatloaf, “bald” potatoes (peeled), and plantains…carbohydrate heaven. I’m going to head to the gym now to pay for my sins at the dinner table!