Tag Archives: Education

Capture Bliss

Capture Bliss

Apparently someone posed the question on Twitter what bliss looks like and thousands of people promptly replied with links to pictures of small moments of bliss they experienced.

This is a picture of bliss. We all have worries, but for me the moments of bliss are when those worries become invisible–our mind is occupied with something much more enjoyable (i.e. bliss).


Obruni State-Side

This obruni hasn’t posted in a very long time… He apologizes for that. But while the posts have been lacking, the experiences have not.

During the last year, I slaved away at eradicating the achievement gap for second graders in Brownsville, Brooklyn in New York City. What effect did I have? I’m unsure. While the data always came back consisting of average scores, I feel confident that my scholars are ready for the next grade. This experience was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and maybe ever will do. However, while I left most days wondering why I had signed up for this experience I was reminded of my passions and my abilities.

I am a person who believes in the good of other people; someone who wants every individual to be given the opportunity to maximize their own potential. We walk by people in the streets unaware of what they’re capable of. Often, we automatically jump to fear of another’s capabilities, but why not assume that the person has the power to change the world for the good? Perhaps, with the right teaching and determination that individual will find the cure to a disease the world so desperately needs. That’s what I want to do…not find the cure to a disease, but inspire and give others the tools necessary to do so. I want to light a flame that will spread like wildfire. I want to make a small hole in a dam that one day will cave under the pressure of the goodness behind it.

I used to say I wanted to change the world and of course there were nay-sayers who thought this naive and foolish. However, I believe it to be possible. Perhaps having a tremendous impact on the whole world would be difficult, but I can changed the world of some people and hopefully create a model for doing so that can be replicated in other areas and eventually spread throughout the whole world.

This is what I’ve come to: I enjoy teaching. Waking up and coming to school every day to greet the scholars in my class is not a chore, but I want more. I need to go and do this where others are not willing to. The achievement gap isn’t limited to America’s inner-city children; there are millions of children across the globe suffering from lack of opportunity who need someone to give them the tools/resources to be successful. Over the last few months I have really reflected on what this looks like for me and I have come to the conclusion that I will open my own elementary school in either Ghana or Kenya. The school will initially house and educate students in pre-k and Kindergarten and then add an additional grade each year thereafter through high school. With the help of volunteers, missionaries, community members, and churches we will decimate the achievement gap in the local community and prepare an army of scholars ready to address the challenges afflicting their community and nation.

I have one more year left in my commitment to Teach for America–a year in which I will continue to develop my skills to prepare and qualify me to make lasting change in the community of my future endeavor. I look forward to pursuing this dream and sharing the process with you.

oh my lord.

Never did I expect such a reaction when giving a test.

Junior High here ranges between ages 13-18 and they are all different levels. I taught them two chapters and gave them a weeks notice to study for this test and they were lost… Earlier in the day when I went to borrow one of their textbooks to make the test one of the students said, “Make it cheap; cheap questions.” I clarified to make sure cheap meant what I thought, easy… I tried explaining to them that me giving them an easy test would do nothing for them as students; if they want to learn to think and succeed they have to be tested and pushed…

So, I made out the test: Four ID’s (basically you just write everything you know about something) and then four other questions that needed about a paragraph for each one. I wrote the questions on the board and one kid hollered out, “This is not how we do in Africa.” I replied with a casual, “Okay, well it is today,” and the student grumbled. I said, “If you don’t know or don’t remember something then make a guess–just try. However, do not let me see you looking off someone else’s test or yours will get ripped up and i’ll make you up a new one.” They wanted to test that last part. I started to rip one students and I think they got the picture. Little does that student know though that he will probably not even get half credit because he took it upon himself to mouth the answers to another girl. I asked them if they thought I was stupid and also reminded them that I was only 20 and was just in their shoes so I know all the ways of how teenagers try to sneak a peek at their neighbors paper.

I am going to have to give myself a couple of hours rest before I even begin to grade these; I’m gonna need a lot of patience! What really got me was that one of the teachers had written one of the answers on the back of the notebook and thought that I wouldn’t notice. I marched right back there and took that notebook from both the students who were rapidly trying to copy it down and kept it for myself and gave the other teacher a mean look. This was the same teacher whom the other day kicked the soccer ball and knocked a girl’s food right off her desk all over the floor and didn’t offer to pay her back or get her something else. 50 pesewas, about 25 cents, may not seem like much, but when it can buy someone an entire meal here…it is a lot of money. The girl was crying, REALLY crying. I just went and got her some crackers and water because I didn’t bring much money to school that day… But seriously? You call yourself a teacher. Oh, and now that I think about it, this is the same teacher that carries the whip when playing soccer with the kids and literally whipped one of the students when they went for the ball. Butthead. Forgive me.

Oh well, today was a good day at school for the most part! In Class 3 I worked on the tenses with them. We went outside and each person got three concrete squares and I would say a sentence and then they would determine if it was past, present, or future and write it with chalk in their appropriate square. I had fun, I hope they did too… Lol

Alright, well Spain just scored and all the other volunteers went wild (we have three Spanish girls here right now) so I better get off here and partake in the happiness!

Aha Yede (Happiness is here!)

obibini kids

This past Friday I toured the school I will be working in for the next three months; I was expecting to just take a tour and meet the other teachers and headmaster and get my schedule or what I would be teaching at least. Little did I know that I would be taking over a classroom that day…

His Grace School is about a ten minute walk from our compound and has about 120 students with maybe 7 or 8 teachers. Kids from ages  2 or 3 all the way up to 18 and they organize students in “classes” that are generally three year age groups, but sometimes you have a random kid that’s 18 even though it is just a primary and junior high school.

It is set up in a U-shape building with a “courtyard” in the middle with concrete stones. Each classroom is concrete floors, stucco walls, and windows on two sides with no screens, blackboard on the front wall, a makeshift “closet” and wooden desk/seat combos that sit maybe a foot off the floor (you can imagine some of the bigger kids sitting at those).

Eventually when I get a schedule I will be teaching both social studies and English; however, until then I am doing whatever…I’m not as stressed by it as one might expect because I’m not sure there is enough structure to stress about things… Teachers are not required to tell when they are going to miss class so I have been covering several of their classes–sometimes teachers are even at the school and just miss class (that’s what the headmaster did today).

This past Friday I taught an English Composition class. The head teacher just came to me and said, “I am going to have you take this class for now,” with no other information on what the class even was, where they were, what age or anything—that was a little stressful just because it was my first time, but we made it and figured it out; the kids are very helpful and, for the most part, well-disciplined. They stand when you enter the room, stand to ask questions after being called on, stand simply to answer questions, address everyone as sir or madam, and just genuinely want to learn, something you don’t always find in the U.S. The English Comp class is basically grammar and some other things; we worked on subjects vs. objects, action verbs, adjectives, and friendly letters which was class six (roughly 11-13 years old).

Today was a trip. In the morning I taught a math class because the teacher just left and the kids finished their problems, eventually he came back but then he left again. We worked on slopes of lines and finding coordinates—something I hoped I would never have to teach. It took everything I had to not say, “FYI, you’re never going to use this again in the rest of your life.” Next class I taught was a Social Studies class and the teacher was actually there (I’m not exactly sure what was going on there), he just put his head down… Also, in Ghana, social studies spans a large amount of topics and it just so happened that today’s was conveniently SEX ED! These kids had supposedly heard of everything before but it didn’t seem like it so I was left to explain everything from ejaculation, erection, menstruation, ovulation, abortion, pregnancy, intercourse, to what to do if your penis gets stuck in the vagina (they had seen this happen with dogs and had to help)… See why today was a trip? The final class I taught today was English Comprehension; this consisted of me reading them a short story and asking questions to make sure they understood it.

They have a teacher’s “office” where only teachers are allowed to hang out; it overlooks the field that everyone uses as a bathroom—it’s quite a sight at lunch. There is a toilet for teachers, but it’s about the same as using the bathroom outside… Ghanaians will use the bathroom anywhere and by anywhere I truly mean ANYWHERE!

I checked with the head teacher today to see about when I will receive my schedule and he said maybe tomorrow (we know what that means)… I’ll probably go another week just filling in, it is a good way to meet the students and figure out where they are with their learning.

Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!


Verbal tantrums of a writer & an anxious spectator of life.


Madison's renderings of teaching and learning