Tag Archives: Culture

Day 3: July 31

Today was a church day. I set my alarm for 8 AM but was awakened a lot earlier by the cow and her silly bell as she grazed by my hut.

Following the morning chai and buttered bread, I had my first shower in the bush. I was given the equivalent of about three bottles of water and told to bathe myself. Well, I didn’t ration my water well enough so I was left with a soapy butt and even soapier arm pits. I guess this beats a wet wipe bath, though. The towel did manage to get all the remaining soap off. I had no idea what to wear to church, but I noticed everyone else was wearing the same thing they wore yesterday so I too proceeded to wear the same outfit I’ve worn for three days, but this time opting for a shirt with a collar.

The trek to church was no shorter than any other I’ve been on since being here despite all the “shortcuts” we took. We made two visits, well three, on our way. We were looking for Joseph’s father-in-law but he was at wife number two’s home. We then stopped at Sarah’s, a member of Joseph’s church. I guess now would be a good time to mention that Joseph is a pastor; he has helped start three churches in this area.

There were not too many people at church today. Joseph explained that this was because of it being the dry season so since many of the Maasai are pastoralists they were in another area trying to find water and green grass for their herds. Other than the small numbers, it was a really spiritual experience. It was obvious that they believed whatever it was they were singing. I had no idea what was happening most of the time. Thankfully, one of Joseph’s younger sons sat next to me and tugged at my pant leg every time I was supposed to stand or sit or pray.

Now, I’m sitting by a water hole watching one of the boys wash their clothes, while another pets my arm, and another wraps a plastic ball he made with string. Wh0 knows what the rest of this day will bring.

time flies

wow. the short time I have been here has flown by! i keep trying to soak as much in each day as possible so as not to miss anything…

On Sunday, myself and a fellow volunteer teacher were invited to church by the head teacher at school. We had no idea what we were in for… We were told he would get us at 8:30 and he didn’t come until 9 (this is typical in Africa) so we caught that tail end of the children’s service and then began the other service at 9:30 and were there for three hours and we left after Part I. Can you imagine being in church for six hours in one day? Craziness! The church was packed full of people and everytime the music began to play they poured into the aisles and danced with no inhibitions; I found myself gathering so much of their energy just by watching! The church service was a combine service both English and Twi and also French I think…so every time a scripture was read it was done in all three languages. Before beginning her sermon, the Reverend asked us to introduce ourselves. As soon as we mentioned we were from the U.S. they congregation erupted with “oooohhhhsss and ahhhs,” and “WE SCORED THE U.S. YESTERDAY! WE SCORED THE OBAMA BOYS!” People are still reminding us that we lost to Ghana…

School has been a little tiring these past few days just trying to figure out how we can make a difference… I spoke with the head teacher about beginning some sort of reading program which I think we will initiate tomorrow. A significant portion of the students have no idea how to read but yet they are still required to copy everything off the board; they have notebooks full of information but don’t know what any of it says–it’s a little disheartening. One of the teachers had been teaching for two weeks and thought the kids were picking up on things until she gave them a written assignment and realized that only two students of the 7-8 year old class knew how to read and the rest of the students were either copying or having those two students read the questions to them.

I tried explaining to the head teacher that no progress can happen until these kids know how to read and comprehend. You can try teaching them all you want, but all they are doing is memorizing the shapes and transferring them to their papers… Two volunteers don’t go to their sites on Fridays so I have roped them into coming to the  school to do some small group work with some of the students… We’ll see how it goes… There are about 9 students in Class 1 that can’t read, two in Class 3, and two in Class 5 that need significant help… I’m not sure about Class 2…

You can learn so much about Ghanaian culture just by sitting in a Junior High classroom and having a coversation with the students (ages 13-18). Today they asked me what would happen to a man in the U.S. if he raped a woman, I told them that the man would most likely go to jail for life and they were completely shocked… I can’t say that rape is culturally acceptable here, but the rules and opinions on it are much more lax. They also asked what would happen if a man slapped a woman and I tried explaining that he would be warned probably the first time and then after that he could continue to be punished more severely… They are full of questions; another question was, “Does the U.S. make condems?” And I told them yes… They then said, “Oh really? Because I heard the Chinese did and that they made them to fit their own penises and they’re too small for ours.” Wow. They asked if we had that problem and I told them we needed a new topic…

I am at the stage where I am giving tests to certain classes. Class 4 finished their citizenship book so I gave them a test on Monday and all I heard was, “Sir Sam this is too much.” I am sorry, but we have been talking about this for the past two weeks, no excuses. You would have thought I was asking them to recite the Declaration of Independence… The Junior High class has a test next Wednesday on two chapters from their book and I told them no multiple choice because they can just memorize facts and to expect about 20 questions and I got the same response… I’m not sure what they’re used to it…

Anyway, that’s all for now…I think I need a nap because today was soooo hot! and I just need to lay under a fan, fa’sho.

Sam G

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