When I woke up today, I felt like I couldn’t stand still. Joy completely took over and I just couldn’t wait to head off to Flowers Gay Schools and begin a new chapter of the awesome Ghanaian experiences. When I got there, I walked across the main lawn of the school and passed every classroom and many children running and laughing; the boys were wearing a yellow button down and green shorts, the girls were wearing a green dress with a yellow collar. Some of the younger kids were still coming in lugging their backpacks and humongous lunch boxes (about half their size!). When I got to the office, I had to wait for the principal to come back from a meeting. When he came into the office, we started talking about what I would be doing there and how I would contribute to the community. I wanted, of course, to observe and help out the French teachers and after talking for some time he introduced me to Monsieur Kwesi who was to be in charge of me for the day and for most of the time that I’m there.
We started the day in Room 1A (six-year-olds); when we got there, they all stood from their chairs with their yellow-green combination of cheerfulness and, in unison, all greeted with their high pitched voices, “Bonjour Monsieur Kwesi.” M. Kwesi responded with a cheerful “Bonjour la classe, ça va?” countless days of practice made their response almost automatic; “ça va bien Monsieur Kwesi. Merci, et vous?” After they were instructed to sit down they all looked my way wondering what the heck I was doing there so Mr. Kwesi finally answered to their confused and curious gazes, “We have a visitor today. His name is Monsieur Tony so when we walk in next time, make sure to say, ‘bonjour Monsiuer Kwesi et Monsieur Tony.’” They all got up from their chairs and began the greeting again. M. Kwesi chuckled and said, “Merci. Please sit down. Monsieur Tony will be with us for the next five weeks. He has come to observe you and the way that we all interact as we learn French. In some time, he will also be teaching you a little bit.” Their mouths were open half smiling half in shock and their eyes grew half the size of their faces. I think that meant that they were happy to have me.
M. Kwesi started the lesson with the classic “repeat after me” and after, they had to write what they had learned that day from the “famille” unit. They wrote, “mon père, ma mère, mon grand-père, ma grand-mère, mon oncle, and ma tante.” I was the one who was checking their notebooks and when the first student came up, he said “here Monsieur Tony.” I took the notebook and it was all correct. I offered a high-five as a reward, but he didn’t know what that was so I taught him—everyone was intrigued and laughed. Suddenly, everyone was eager to show me their notebooks. The next class was also with six-year-old students and it was a repetition of the first.
When I got there I was also told there was a field trip to a French Center. The seventh graders, M. Kwesi, and I all squeezed into the bus and drove off. At the center, the students talked about the importance of learning French (diplomacy, and Ghana being surrounded by Francophone countries were among the many reasons) and continued on to do oral and aural activities to practice their French and were engaged in a small discussion after watching a short film. After two hours, we all squeezed back into the bus and headed back to school just in time for break (recess).
During that time, I got my first school lunch (kabobs and wafers) and ate it with the first graders who I was with earlier. They saw me come in and said, “Hi Monsieur Tony” accompanied by high-speed waving. After lunch (and an intense round of high-fives), I taught them how to play tag and we ran around for about 10 minutes before we just started “talking.” Like any six-year-old, they were all talking over each other and changing subject midsentence, occasionally looking over to Monsieur Tony for validation.
The bell rang and I went back to the library where I met M. Christophe—another French teacher. He was welcoming and told me that on Wednesday we will be co-teaching a lesson on the possessive. Excited and intimidated all at once, I accepted. I then walked back from school and saw Madi and Joshua; we walked back together and exchanged the awesomeness of our day.