I’m pretty sure I’ve rewritten this post about 5 times…. It’s my last week and I’m finding it extremely difficult to find words that describe what I have been doing, saying and feeling these past few days. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted…. I did this on purpose. I felt that I needed to really enjoy and really live my last few weeks/days in Ghana rather than trying to process. However, with a week left it’s time to process…So here we go….
Things at CORM have been hectic yet exciting! It’s exams time that means the students really need to buckle down and get studying! I have been very busy with tutoring students and providing extra support and help for those who are struggling. I still have my groups going despite the preparations for exams.
My Empowerment group has been making such amazing progress! The three students are really comprehending and applying the topics we discuss in our group. For example one of the students had a conflict with a peer. The peer was constantly bothering him and verbally insulting my student. Initially the student’s response to his peer’s behavior was to “beat” him, however after coming to me and explaining the situation the student was able to see the consequences in his initial response to the behavior. The student was able to verbally resolve the situation using “I” statements that we previously had discussed in-group. Not only did the student seek advise from an adult, they were able to use their words to resolve the conflict which would have normally dealt in a physical manner. I was so proud of the student and felt that what we have been working on the whole term has really gotten through to the kids. The empowerment group is defiantly the group that I have made very close relationships with each of the students and have learned the most through our time together. I look back to the first day of group and cannot believe how much progress the students have made, I have never been so proud of a group of kids. On the last day of school I really struggled to say goodbye to the students. I spent the whole day with the students, we played basketball, watched a movie, just chatted, and they also cheered me on as the female staff challenged the female students to a big game of football! They encouraged me just as much as I encouraged them throughout the term. As the day was coming to an end, I said my goodbyes to each of the students. I gave each student a letter and a small silly gift that I know they will appreciate. They have taught me so much and will forever have a place in my heart I am so proud of those three and I have no doubt that they will all do amazing things.
My other groups have gone very well the past couple of weeks. My motors skills group has been such a fun group to facilitate! I love thinking of new games, activities and exercises we can do to promote better motor functioning! My last week I had each of the students challenge each other to a 1:1 dribbling competition! Oh my goodness was that a sight to see! They were so funny as they ran up and down the court talking smack and trying to control the ball. They also have come so far with their skills. For example one of the students whom I have been working with since I started, he was unable to hold a pencil correctly and color within the lines, by the end of the term he colored a very intricate picture which I still have today. He has come so far and through the term I have seen this student become so proud and aware of his achievements. It’s honestly the most humbling experience I have ever had to see a child become so proud of himself.
My behavior group has defiantly been a rocky road; the group was created the last month of the term so it was really difficult to make progress in such a short amount of time. However the students did have fun and I’d like to think they learned a few things. The last week I worked on following directions with the students. I set up a scavenger hunt for the students. Each “Post” had a place, person and activity, which they had to find, greet and complete to receive the next direction. It was so fun to get the staff involved and to see the students work as a team to receive the “prize” at the end!
So I’ll tell you a little about OUR day. OUR day is the last day of the term before vacation. It’s called OUR day because it’s supposed to be for the teachers to clean their rooms, finish any outstanding grading and to hold parent teacher conferences. Ha Ha Ha… it’s MOST DEFIANTLY not the teachers’ day! It’s basically a free day for the students to run around, play, chat and cause all kind of mayhem! It was defiantly a new experience… I would compare it to the American “field day” where there are a bunch of fun activities for the students. However on OUR day there is NO organization or planned activities. The students can really do anything they want. They also were allowed to bring their own food from home. Some of the students brought biscuits, Abolo, Jollof rice, rice and stu, and fufu! After lunch the female staff challenged the female students to a football game. Of course as a soccer player (Many years ago) I played! Let me tell you… We as the staff did NOT do well! It score was 1-4 and we only got a goal because there was a “penalty” which was completely false! It was a successful day and such a fun way to end my time at CORM. Overall my time at CORM has been amazing and I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to work there and with such amazing, diverse, and loving people.
Save Them Young (STY)
Well I haven’t been too active at STY because the kids have been really sick lately! It’s such a shame. I feel really bad because I only went a few times while I was in Ghana. I wanted to go more however due to the illness and my class schedule I wasn’t able to really go as much as I’d like. However, I did go on Saturday, the other Obruni’s in the area and I facilitated a medical assessment for all the children and staff! It was an ALL day event! We completed assessments on all the children and staff after a 7-hour day! We split the kids into groups based on their age and while the doctor saw one group we scheduled activities for the others. Let me know you the more we tried to organize the more chaotic it become! Some of the people I went with have never been to STY so it was really interesting to see their reactions to the craziness of this place. Despite the madness of STY I had a chance to spend some more time with the four children I had previously done individual sessions. I really missed those kiddos, I forgot how happy and goofy they were. The one little girl who I had formed a strong connection with was with me all day! She followed me everywhere and we just played, sang, talked and really just enjoyed each other’s company for the last time. She is such a special girl, it never ceases to amaze me that despite her disability she is the most smiley, happy, charismatic girl I have ever met. She will forever have a special place in my heart. I really believe Save Them Young has a lot of potential and with a lot of help from caring, passionate, hard working people it can become a thrive facility that encourages healthy and loving relationships for children who are orphaned.
I have not traveled much in my last few weeks. Other than spending a night in Accra experiencing the nightlife, my weekend have been reserved for quality time with my family. This weekend Katy and I are hoping to go to Ada and get some beach time in before we leave. I think some beach, sun and relaxation is exactly what we need. I wished I traveled a bit more while in Ghana but I would not trade the time I have spent with my family for anything. Because of vacation Michelle and Elisa have been at their grandparents for the weekdays because Mark and Rebecca are both working. The house is SO quiet since they are gone, I really miss them but the weekends are full of fun with those two little girls. As my time is coming to an end I really appreciate the Boateng family. I appreciate their willingness to host and accept me as one of their own. I know I will forever have a family in Ghana. This next week will be really hard as I say my goodbyes to not only Mark and Rebecca but to the girls as well.
My plans for this upcoming week
So I leave on Sunday the 27th and arrive in the States Monday the 28th. My week is SO jammed packed with activities.
So today, Monday, I went to CORM for the last time. My fellow Obruni’s and I helped out with a Easter Egg hunt for the kids! It was so much fun! I can’t wait to post pictures. So I got to spend a little more time with the residents of CORM. It was hard saying goodbye today because I knew that that would be the last time I see some of those students. That place will always be in my thoughts which are filled with happy memories and many learning experiences!
Tuesday I will be traveling to Keswa that is about 2 hours away from my home. I will be visiting the Grace House, which is a home for young pregnant teens who were living on the streets. The home was created by two young females (20 &21 yrs) they saw a need for young teens and they created a program to address the need. They currently have only one teen and still are in the trial and error stage of their program. They also have a toddler who has a sever disability, from what I have gathered it’s similar to either Cerebral Palsy, Wolf horns syndrome or something of the sorts. The child was taken out of his village about 6 months ago because he was going to be killed. His disability was seen as demonic and in this particular village they had decided to kill him. So now he is at the Grace House and the woman caring for him has little experience or knowledge about his needs. I had expressed to one of the ladies that I have had some (very limited) experience with such disabilities and may possibly have some sensory, cognitive and overall therapy that may be of some use. So I will be spending Tuesday and Wednesday training the caregiver and really assessing his needs.
Thursday-Saturday, I actually have no idea what I have planned. I know that Katy and I want to travel to either Osu in Accra or go to Ada. Either way we are determined to get some beach time in! I’ll let you know what we end up doing! I know Saturday I will be spending most of the day with my family just enjoying the last few days (really hours) we have with each other.
Sunday, I will attend church just as I do with my family every Sunday. Then I will spend the day either packing or enjoying their company. My supervisor will then take Katy and I to the air port around 6 and we depart Accra at 10 pm….. I arrive in New York around 5 in the morning on Monday then arrive in Minneapolis around 10 am.
Well ha like I said I have struggled with writing this post because this is most likely my last or second to last post. I guess leaving hasn’t fully hit me yet; it comes and goes in little spurts. One minuet I’m okay and ready to go back then the next minuet I’m dreading Sunday. I love Ghana; I love the culture, the people, the food, the compassion, the willingness, the humor, and just the overall life of Ghana. It’s so hard to explain how this place has impacted my life. I’m not going to lie I am very nervous about coming back to the States. I know it’s going to be a culture shock but I’m also scared of how my perceptions have changed and how that might influence my life in America. In our last class our professor went over some of the common difficulties students have when studying abroad, it was really helpful and insightful. I’m such I’ll transition fine; it’s just going to be a huge change. I am excited to see my family and friends again! I really miss everyone and especially school! I absolutely LOVE Carthage and cannot wait to get back on campus and live out my final days as a senior the proper way! I’ll most likely spend my first week back in the States with my family in Minnesota then visit my dad and Georgi in Wisconsin later on in the week as I travel back to Kenosha. I can’t wait to see my sisters and my baby niece. She’s 8 Months now and has grown so much while I was away! My sisters have been religiously keeping me updated with her through pictures and face timing. I also can’t wait to eat American food again. I do LOVE Ghanaian food and will REALLY miss it but I do miss things like pickles, ranch, burgers, stakes and a good glass of wine. So this is a message to my family… You better have your cook on because I’m ready to eat J Well… I think that’s about it I’m sure I left things out throughout my time here in Ghana but I’ll be posting pictures and videos that might explain my experience here better than this blog can!
As always thank you for your love and support through my journey. This experience has influenced me in so many ways and it would not have been without the love and support from everyone. I cannot wait to see you all again and share my amazing time with you!