Ok! So I finally got online…. First, it feels like I’ve been here for months, I can’t believe it’s only been a couple weeks (i don’t even know how many and I don’t feel like figuring it out just yet). So far everything has been amazing. I’m having such an awesome time and I haven’t even met a prince yet so things can only get better from here. I have a lot to catch everyone up on so I’ll start from the beginning…
WE got to Accra after a seamless direct flight (no fights over reclined chairs thank god). We drove out to a woman’s college and stayed in the dorms for a couple days. Fans, toilets and even a semi-real shower that dripped some water. Needless to say we were pretty spoiled. We mostly just did the usual training stuff while there. A lot of name games, safety and security talks and a quest into Accra that involved us all finding our way around the city and ended up in me just sweating ridiculous amounts. We left Accra after a couple days and came to the traning site in Kukurantumi (in the Eastern region for all you who care). We’ve been put up in homestays and have daily training. The past week and this current week the Education volunteers have been doing practicum which means we’ve been shoved into classrooms and expected to teach. This was terrifying for me at first considering I have minimal teaching experience and absolutely no experience working with deaf kids…BUT it’s been amazing and SO inspiring. The kids at my school are unbelievable and are patient with me not knowing any signs. I’ve been teaching 1st and 6th grade and pretty much just make a fool of myself in each class becuase i try to act out all the signs I don’t know…which are most. I did a dancing lesson with my 1st graders, where I obviously defaulted to the mom dance during my demonstration, then my students promptly came to the front of the classroom and put me to shame with their skills. let it be known that deaf kids can DANCE. at least in ghana.
I really can’t sing the praises of my deaf students enough. Everytime our bus pulls into the schoolyard there’s a crowd of screaming, waving kids who carry out bags for us and sign at us frantically even though they know most of us can’t understand them. The school all the deaf ed volunteers are doing practicum at also makes great batik, so we’ve been able to learn some skills and make some of our own! In summary, practicum has been awesdome and has gotten me really excited and inspired for when I’m off at my own school….and can sign.
Homestay is also good. I have my own room and live at a house that boards a bunch of girls who go to the high school in Kukurantumi. Aka I feel like I’m in the ghanaian version of a girls dorm where I’m constantly surrounded by 18-20 year old grls and the main topic of conversation is what my hairstyle was that day (they really like my hair). My mom lives in a separate house but she’s wonderful and helps me with everything, and reads to me from a Twi book every night. The book is meant for 5 year olds and I struggle with it. She also laughs at me when I cut open my hands doing laundry. I constantly have bloody knuckles here from those darn clothes.There’s a baby around and I’m confused about who she belongs to but I don’t worry about it too much and just accept that we’re best friends. We like to play thisi game where she mimics my facial expressions…it’s aweseom.
What else? OOh! I got my site placement! Starting August 31st (or actually sept 1st because it’s a 2 day trip) I’ll be moving up to the Upper East region to a town named Gbego (silent b) and teaching at a deaf school up there! I’m excited to be moving up north and getting away from the humidity a bit, PLUS my town is the homw to a topless shrine which i think i can use to lure a lot of people to come visit me (eh? eh?). My area is known for basket weaving and leather work, so I’m hoping to pick up some pretty neat skills. The volunteer at the school before me has also set up a glass bead making department I’ve hear, so I’ll also get to learn how to make glass beads!
No bug stories or bad sicknesses yet, although we did have to do a pretend malaria test on ourselves today which was pretty exciting. I don’t THINK i’ve had anythingtoo weird to eat, but when i showed my homestay mom the picture of my cat her response was, “Ha, we eat that here,” which leaves me suspect. Actually a lot of reactions to my pictures have been funny:
1. When they found out i had a brother – “Give me his phone number, i will marry him”
2. When I showed pictures of Jon and Becca’s wedding to prove he was already married – “I love her dress….why is he in a skirt? I will not marry him”
3. When looking at any picture that included me and a guy – ” so this is your boyfriend,” followed by an explanation about their 3 boyfriends of the day
4. When looking at me in any picture – “you too skinny, you will eat fufu and get fat”
5. “You’re parents are so young!”
One thing I still haven’t gotten used to is the totally accepting public urination. Call me crazy but I’m still caught off guard when I’m walking with my sister and all of a sudden she pops a squat at the side of the road. My main goal of the moment (other than learning ASL and becoming a perfect volunteer of course) is learning to balance things on my head. It’s an arduous process – i almost cracked my neck trying to do a water bucket the other day.
Ok my time is almost up… I didn’t get to check my email so I will TRY to get back on later this week. Training is just really busy, but once I get to site I’ll buy a modem so I can have interent at my house! I’ll do that right after I adopt a puppy. If you’re aching for more ask some questions and I’ll respond at my earliest convenience….which will bve I don’t know when.
LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!