Classroom Without Walls 2013

“Why do you keep coming back?” Ms. Daviss asked me on our first day at Bosomtwe Community School.

“It’s just… amazing,” I said. She continued questioning me, hoping to get some sort of deep answer. “I can’t describe it in words,” I explained, “It’s sort of just a feeling. It’s an incredible experience.”

I don’t think she fully grasped what I meant at that stage, which was admittedly mostly my fault, or perhaps that of English language’s incapability to describe what I was feeling, but by the end of the trip it would have been clear to every one of us what I meant.

This year was my third time visiting Bosomtwe Community School (BCS) in Ghana, and it has been incredible to see the school change over time. From a rickety wooden block with 3 overcrowded rooms to a stable 5-clasroom school with another building of the same size currently in the making, it is clear that BCS has truly grown.

As I knew what to expect, arriving was not so much a culture shock for me as it was for the new members of the group. However, this did not diminish the experience for me in the slightest. In fact, if anything, this trip was the best yet. Our experience in Ghana was packed with teaching, playing with the students, and learning about the culture of the Ashanti region.

We spent five full days at the school, longer than any group has before, and taught for the majority of that time. My partner Sterre and I taught in kindergarten to begin with, and later in nursery, and working with the youngest kids in the school was an interesting experience and required a lot of quick thinking and on-the-spot adaptation of lesson plans. Having us visit is an exciting time for them as well as for us, so it was difficult to keep them disciplined during the lessons. We encountered a particularly trying situation while teaching outside one afternoon and ended up with kindergarteners running around pell-mell all over the playground while we tried desperately to get them to come back and stand in a circle without turning the whole thing into a giant game of “catch the kid.”

While we were there we also ran Bosomtwe Community School’s first ever Sports Afternoon. From football to Stuck in the Mud, the students had a fun-filled afternoon of sports with the occasional shower to cool us all down.

Playing and interacting with the kids outside of lessons was also significant part of our trip. We were challenged to read with the kids as much as possible and the school library was much utilized during our week at the school. With younger children we sang endless renditions of The Hokey Pokey, Peel Banana, and the Schweitzer Yodeling Song, many of which they remembered from previous trips and could sing along with.

Every day around noon there would be a delicious traditional Ghanaian meal cooked for us by a woman named Adizia. Rice, fried plantains, cassava, avocado, mango and watermelon filled our plates and stomachs. By talking to the students at the school we also learned about their culture, but our main cultural experiences happened back at the hotel. Every afternoon the children from the village would come and hang out with us at the lake. The boys would play football together and go swimming, and many of us formed close bonds with the children so that they invited us to come to their homes and meet their families. Two girls called Agnes and Comfort took me and Sandra into their home, and I will never forget the experience. Walking through the dirt paths between rickety houses that, to us, were no more than disintegrating garden sheds and yet were inhabited by the most cheerful people I have ever met, was truly eye-opening.

Every evening we would sum up the day with an adinkra symbol. These traditional symbols have specific meanings and two people would be chosen to select one that they thought was befitting to our day. These ranged from the siamese crocodiles representing unity, to a symbol representing the supremacy of god. Learning about these symbols gave us another glimpse into Ghanaian culture.

Out of all the challenges we faced throughout the week, saying goodbye was the hardest one of all. However, this trip taught us a lot and I am sure we will all continue to support BCS throughout our time at ZIS.

– Antonia Mcgrath

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