Monday, June 1, 2009

“Snippets” by Tammi; 31 May 2009

If you are wondering what we have been up to the past couple of months (besides that little garage incident that I mentioned in my last entry) here are some snippets to get you up to speed---

First, we want to extend a big “Thank You” to those who made donations for the two upcoming youth events. Both programs have been fully funded. The kids who have been selected to attend are very excited, and their families very proud. We will post some photos and give a recap of the events once they take place. The part you played in making it all possible is very much appreciated.

At the end of last term, Chris and I spent some evenings down the road working with students at the junior high school on a World Aids Day poster contest.
It was a rewarding experience for both us and the students. The students felt very special being able to participate and some walked quite a distance to and from school after dark in order to take part in this free-will project. It was the first opportunity that many of the students had had to paint!

Peace will soon learn that her submission won a prize!

We went to Egypt!

That stuff is REALLY old! The pyramids were cool, but the artwork in the temples really blew us away. It’s amazing how these things have withstood the test of time.

Egyptians refer to Africa as if it is a different continent and indeed Ghana did seem worlds away. It was "interesting" transitioning back from a luxury floating hotel on the Nile to Peace Corps bungalow in Donkokrom. It was also kind of weird being in Egypt and seeing how advanced the culture was in ancient times, and then returning here to Ghana and realizing how far we have to go. But it felt good to be back home, and a refreshing change from Egypt’s culture of constant baksheesh and relentless hawkers.

John & Nancy sail the the Nile

Between Egypt and Ghana we spent a very pleasant month with Chris’s parents. It was wonderful having visitors but the time flew by very quickly. In the end, we sent John & Nancy home with some memorable moments, food for thought, a big bag of purchases, (and unfortunately giardia)!

Nancy presents a booklette created by her school kids in Iowa

Chris’s “workshop” has become quite the popular hangout for some of the neighborhood boys. Jonas (left below) wants to be a doctor and Stephen (right) is our budding young artist.


Chris and I have been meeting with our school administrators to identify and prioritize needs and to create action plans for meeting those needs. The top priority of the school right now is to mechanize the bore hole. (As it is now, students spend many hours of the day simply fetching water to meet basic needs. This is time that could be better spent in a learning environment).

Fetching water from the bore hole

Earlier this year we submitted a proposal asking for assistance with this (and three additional school projects) from Engineers Without Borders (EWB). We recently received good news that our proposal has passed the initial review stage and has been approved to be posted for adoption by any of the EWB chapters in the U.S. Now we could use your help with an added push. If you know anyone who is associated with this fine organization, please encourage them to consider adopting our project. We would love to see this collaboration come into fruition!

Primary project: Teaching
Primary result: Frustration!

Term II did not end on a high note
  • Students were cheating on their exams
  • Teachers were allegedly being paid by the students not to notice
  • Many students received failing grades anyway (only 35% is required to pass)
Term III did not start on a high note
  • Classes began more than two weeks late due to the fact that so few students and teachers bothered to report
  • Chris and I missed the term’s first staff meeting. (As is typical the meeting was arranged less than 90 minutes before it was to take place with no written, verbal, or any other type of communication inviting us to attend).
  • Nearly 2 weeks after classes actually resumed, the entire timetable was changed, (again WIHTOUT NOTICE). The affect of this change for me was not only a change in my scheme of work, lesson plans, and schedule but nearly 230 of my students have switched. A more significant affect was yet another week of disruption and lack learning.
As one might expect, I have been spending a goodly amount of time stomping around campus, voicing my complaints to anyone who will listen, and even offering solutions. However, our Headmaster has heard little if any of it.

If I had only one word to describe our headmaster – Absent!

Chris and I have been entertaining ourselves with the fantasy of a coup. He would play headmaster and I would take over the office. We would do crazy things like planning, organizing, communicating, delegating, and making people accountable for their actions & responsibilities. Yes, crazy CRAZY thoughts!

It's hard to plan when you don't know what to expect from one day to the next. (It’s Sunday and I don’t even know who my students are or what classes I am expected to teach tomorrow).

I’ve been having dreams that I am working on various projects and as I am trying to carry them out, it all starts falling apart. It’s boring having dreams with literal meaning. Now Chris is having the same type of dreams. I much prefer the Meph induced adventure dreams.


Secondary Projects:
Activities that have the potential of being a positive distraction from our primary frustration

I'm so excited! I just got my women's community organizing project off the ground. Another woman who teaches at DASHS and I are hitting the neighborhood, meeting and getting to know other women, and learning from each of them what is good, bad, or needs improvement in their lives. I’m not sure where this project will take us, but that’s a big part of the fun. We’ll see what bubbles to the surface and go from there. At the very least we’re making new friends and forming new alliances. My biggest highlight so far came during a planning discussion between me and my colleague when she offered “…and I will continue this project even after you return to America”. I wanted to dance around and shout “Hallelujah”! (I have learned that we need to celebrate life’s little successes).

village women

If a coup d'état is unrealistic, why not start a revolution! Chris is doing just that, complete with manifesto, in the form of his Campus Pride project. He had his second meeting yesterday with the Student Representative Council. They are brainstorming ideas on what can be done for and by the students to promote pride in our school. So far they have had some real good ideas with real good potential. And the new student president is exhibiting an incredible level of energy and leadership in mobilizing the “troops”. Hopefully the momentum will continue once the faculty advisors are brought into the picture.


travelgirl said...

I am very much enjoying reading your stories. Glad you had a good time at the pyramids.

Sheri Michaels

Bingaling said...

Is that a drawing of Cy the Cyclone I see in one of your photos? I'm just an Ames person who misses seeing you at Worldly Goods and learned of your blog in the newsletter. Its great to hear you are in Ghana...half of our family is Ghanaian (our boys are adopted from there), so we have a deep connection and appreciation for Ghana. Its fun to read about your adventures!
Best of luck on the coup!