Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's Been A Month

This time one month ago, Clara and I took off for Ghana, and here I am, one month later, doing well! It's hard to believe how quickly the month has gone by, this means there's a little more than three months left, which seems both way to soon and way far away.

In current news:

On Tuesday I had my Human Rights In Africa class and the professor walked out. He warned us last week that we needed to do the readings for each class because he would ask people questions, and if they couldn't answer, they would be kicked out of the class. So class gets started and he says “boy in the green shirt, what was the reading about?” And the boy couldn't answer, he said he wasn't enrolled in the class last week, so he didn't know to do the readings. The professor then kicked him out of class. Then the prof asked a girl what the readings were about, and she answered. He then said “the gentleman who came in late, what were the readings about?” And no guy would stand up and answer. So the prof finally said, “if the the gentleman won't stand up, I will leave leave class.” No one ever stood up, so the prof left. It was quite a sight. Right then it really struck me how different academics are here than in the states. I feel as if the professor was kind of saying “if you don't do the work, we won't have class” which most students would be pretty happy about it back home. But after talking to my room mate, she said that the professor walking out would make the students see the need to do the work from then on.

On Wednesday morning I went to the orphanage with Mary and Kate. The orphanage is called Ma Daamfo Pa (which I think loosely translated is My Good Friend) and it is run by a lady called Fati. I heard at some time that there were around 25 kids, but I've only seen a maximum of 10 kids at any time, so I'm confused. I worked with Paul on his math homework and reading. The math homework was multiplication and long division, and it made me realize how long it has been since I have done any math without a calculator. I had to do a couple problems myself before I could help him out, haha. When Paul and I were working on reading he was reading about the digestive system and the book he was given on it had so many problems. There were grammar errors and spelling problems, and extra words, and words that made no sense. So not only was Paul trying to read, he was trying to comprehend information that wasn't even being conveyed to him correctly. It was really frustrating to watch Paul work so hard at understanding something that wasn't right. Not only that, but he was learning to read by talking about the esophagus and the small and large intestine, not particularly easy topics. It just made me feel like these poor kids aren't being given any fair chances. I am happy to give my time to help them, but I also feel like no matter how much time I give them, the education system here just won't give them a chance.

This weekend was our Cape Coast trip with CIEE. Overall, definitely a good weekend. We took off at 6:30 in the morning, and trecked about three and half hours to a hotel in Cape Coast. Shocking as this is, when we got there, only about half the rooms were ready for us. And a lot of the rooms that were supposedly open for us, still had people's things in them. We all wasted time for about an hour, and then there was lunch, which at least lightened the mood. The afternoon we went to Cape Coast Castle, which was one of the original castles used for slave trading. I was not very impressed with our tour guide, and wasn't able to get all that much out of the tour. It was interesting to be in an original piece of history, that has so much to do with Africa, but there wasn't a lot of explanation in what the experiences for a black slave were like. I feel as though I could have learned more from reading a book, then being on the tour. I'm definitely glad I went and could see it, but I wasn't real impressed.
The rest of the night was ours, which was spent mostly in our rooms, with air conditioning, which was great! I slept the best I have since getting here. I got a hot shower, a cold room, slept with a blanket, and it was quiet! I woke up when I wanted to, not because someone was singing, or praying, or yelling. And I wasn't sticky. It was one of the best feelings ever. While the humidity out that close to the ocean was insane, it makes the humidity here in Legon feel not nearly as bad. Sunday morning we drove out to Kakum National Park, where we did a canopy walk through the jungle. It was AMAZING! The rope bridges are secure, but that's all there is. Wood and rope, holding you 60 feet above the jungle ground. It was amazing to be walking through the trees and see so much jungle life from that high up. After the canopy walk, we went to Hans Cottage Botel (no idea why it's not hotel) for lunch, where we got to see crocodiles while we ate. They were so cool looking! After lunch, we went for a walk around the grounds, and saw a crocodile in the shade and I got some really awesome pictures of it. When I was all of 10 feet away from the crocodile and taking a picture of it, I realized that I am definitely in Africa!


h. irene j. said...

Your weekend makes my weekend jealous.

Tasha said...

Yay, see Greta you are going to be home for summer.... you are going to be home before me.

Jamie said...

your teachers sound intense. i'm both impressed and intimidated. my teachers just say, "you, go act now." your comment about realizing you're in africa made me laugh, it's the same for me walking down the street in london. sans crocodile, anyway.

Colin said...

I would expect education to be different. Right now I'm sitting in Seung-ho's class and, well, reading your blog. Ahhh.