Happy Ghanaversary to Me!

Today’s post has nothing to do about teaching… in America, that is! One year ago today, I was in Ghana, Africa preparing to spend three weeks teaching kindergarten. As I sit here on my comfy couch drinking iced tea, it’s hard to believe that I was in Africa one year ago. The trip has made a lasting impact on my life and I hope to be able to go back someday!

I went to Ghana with an organization called Cross-Cultural Solutions. Thankfully, my teacher friend, Holly, was able to come on my adventure with me. Going to Ghana is something that has always been on my heart, but it took me awhile to take the plunge and finally commit to going for real. A lot of friends and family supported me financially, which made the trip seem much more realistic (buying airfare to Africa is quite expensive)! I had some major fears prior to this trip, including getting multiple shots at the creepy health department, not knowing what strange foods I would have to eat in Ghana, and the fear of being dirty for 3 weeks. I had serious doubts how this all would work out for me, but God came through big time.  I could probably write about my trip for hours, but to spare you, I will simply post a lot of photos!

For three weeks, I taught KG2 (5 and 6 year olds) at Rise Preparatory School. Rise is a private school founded by Eunice, a woman with a disability, who also hired other teachers with disabilities (people who have disabilities in Africa are generally treated as outcasts, so Eunice is pretty amazing). Rise has three classes: creche (pre-school), KG1 (4 and 5 year olds) and KG2. All three classes are inside of an old, abandoned church. There is no electricity... just a lot of natural lighting! The school has VERY limited resources (only a few pencils and pieces of chalk), but many of the kids were doing very well academically! The students loved writing, singing songs, and dancing!


Here is our school!

Here are our kids! School attendance varied due to the weather and whether or not it was a market day. On some days, there were 30 kids, and on other days, there were 70!

Here’s my classroom! The kids had amazing focus… no clip charts, no gimmicks, no prize boxes… they just focused.

We were working on writing simple sentences. The pencils and paper were from my home base.  Generally, they did not have pencils and had very limited paper.

I love this photo. Here are some of my students working on writing, while two of the little ones from the creche slept on the table! {this is a normal occurrence}

This is Richard… most definitely my favorite student… shhh!

So precious!

One of the headmasters asked me if I could hold this baby for a bit. Umm, yes please!

We taught the kids how to play London Bridge! 
They loved it and probably would have played it for HOURS.

Hmmm can you spot my classroom trouble maker?!

Really makes you rethink how much you love your SmartBoard, doesn’t it? I had to go back to my classroom two days after I came back to America. It was very hard to unpack supplies and start redecorating. I had a very different perspective.

Sweetest kids ever. When we arrived each day, they would literally jump all over us. They loved my hair and were fascinated by my freckles… they kept trying to pick them off of me like they were dirt!

We were really fortunate to be in Ghana at the end of their school term and were invited to be a part of their end of term celebration. All of the students in the community dressed in traditional Ghanaian clothing and paraded through the town led by a marching band! Each class performed their skills in front of a huge crowd of family members, community members, and local chiefs. Our kids performed an ABC chant, Bible verses, and none other than…. wait for it… Tooty Ta! {The community thought it was AMAZING!} There were a lot of speeches, dancing, and drumming. At the end of the ceremony, students received their end of the year awards and got a plastic drinking cup and small package of cookies… it was like Christmas. Throughout the ceremony, the teachers were served beer! In Ghana, they drink Guinness like it is soda pop!

Here are our girls in their traditional dresses!

One of the chronic problems at Rise is that students’ family members were not able to pay school fees. Students held these heart breaking signs during their parade through town. One of the goals of the ceremony was to raise more money for schools and people put money in an offering container throughout the performances. We were told that because there were Americans in town, attendance and donations were likely to increase!

Here we are parading through town.

After the ceremony, the community took a TON of pictures of us with the kids. 
Basically, we were the village superstars. It was too funny.

When we arrived to teach the day after the ceremony, we were a bit surprised. Apparently, once the term is over, school turns into playtime! They dumped one box of chalk onto the floor and the kids went to town! Pure craziness, but a lot of fun!

If you haven’t traveled or taught internationally, I would definitely recommend it. It will change your life. My trip was better than I had imagined it to be. During my first week in Ghana, I felt God’s presence stronger than I had ever felt it before. From the friendly people on the streets, to the children who would jump up and down when they saw me, to the amazing scenery... Ghana was perfect.

46 comments

  1. Oh my goodness, where do I start? First of all, I love when teachers post about teachery stuff, but I love it even more when posts like this pop up! It helps us get to know each other on a deeper level. I loved this post! Your pictures were absolutely beautiful, and I loved hearing about your experiences. I went to Togo, which neighbors Ghana on the east side, last summer as well! My trip was more of a missions trip, but I was able to teach children about Jesus while training teachers! I just love those gorgeous African children!
    Thank you so much for sharing! I would love to read another post next week!

    Allie
    The Gypsy Teacher

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    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Allie! We climbed a mountain in Ghana and were able to see Togo :) I hope you write about your experience on your blog! I would love to hear more!

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  2. Wow, what an eye-opening experience that must have been. Makes me appreciate all that our children have over here. We are truly blessed. I'm sure you made a lasting impression on those sweet kids' lives. I would love to hear more about your experiences.
    Kristin
    iTeach 1:1

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    1. Thank you so much, Kristin! I will write more later this week :)

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing, Kate! I am already thinking about what I want to do next summer (trying not to get too ahead of myself but that may be too late haha) and the program you did may be my answer!! I would love to read and see more photos in another post about your experience!!

    Alex

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    1. You're welcome, Alex! Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about the program I did!

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  4. Wow - this was fascinating! I can only imagine how amazing this trip must have been! I would love to read more about it!
    -Carol
    Mrs. Cobb's Kinder Sprouts

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    1. Thanks Carol! I will write more later this week :)

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  5. Kate, your story is inspiring...I want to hear more. I have been fortunate to travel overseas, but never to teach. Many blessings to you for all that you did for these gorgeous children!

    Nancy
    Mrs. Stoltenberg's Second Grade Class

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    1. Thank you very much, Nancy! I would definitely recommend an overseas teaching experience. I have also taught in El Salvador-- both were amazing experiences!

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  6. Wow! What a wonderful trip. Great photos. Your blog is awesome. It's so cool that you found me in the bloggy world.

    Best wishes,
    Brittany
    Keeping Up With First Grade

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    1. Thanks Brittany! So glad I found you!

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  7. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your trip with us! This really makes me rethink how much I have in my classroom, and how much is always on my wish list each year! What a blessing you were to these children, and I am sure they were a huge blessing to you also! Thank you again for sharing your experiences! Thanks also for the shout out!

    Delighted in Second

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    1. You're welcome, Jennifer! It was very hard going back to my classroom... it definitely put things into perspective!

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  8. Thanks for sharing these pictures! They're amazing! I went to Malawi and Mozambique years ago on a missions trip. The kids were so fun to play with. They were mesmerized by my hair and skin since some of them had never seen a white person before. It's so easy to love them! I love to travel and would absolutely love to go back! :)

    Rachel
    A-B-Seymour

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    1. Judging by these comments, perhaps we need a teacher blog meet-up in Africa?! I need to go back SOON!

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  9. I totally learned so much from your trip/photos. I would love to know/see more!!! What a blessing you gave me by sharing.
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you so much for the comment, Susan. That makes my night! :)

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  10. You already know I want to read more about it, Kate! Thank you for sharing and can't wait to see more!

    Sara
    Miss V's Busy Bees

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    1. I will add another Ghana post to my to-do list :) Thanks Sara!

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  11. I loved reading this post! Did you go with an organization that planned everything for you? Can't wait to read more about your adventure. Those pictures are amazing.

    A Pirates Life for Us

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    1. Hi Jenn! Yes, the organization I went with helped to place us in volunteer positions and organized our home base, language lessons, and cultural experiences. Feel free to email me if you have other questions about the organization!

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    2. Thanks! Just a little curious...
      :)

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  12. This was such an awesome post! I loved reading about your experience and it really makes me want to plan something in the future. Thanks so much for sharing. The kids look absolutely adorable.

    Shana
    Enchanted with Technology

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    1. Thanks Shana :) You should definitely consider something in the future!

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  13. What a wonderful post! I loved it and would love to hear more!!! :-) I went to South Africa about six years ago with a college class- it was definitely a life changing experience, like you said! I didn't teach there, but we did get to visit some schools and, like you said, it really puts things into perspective. Whenever I want to whine and complain about "problems" at school, I try to think about how things could always be worse, and that there are so many people out there who have less than you and are simply happy. Thanks for reminding me of this! :)

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    1. Ohmyword, the difference in happiness was incredible... I forgot to mention that! Thanks Sandy :)

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  14. I loved this post!! Africa has a special place in my heart too. I had the opportunity a few years ago to spend some time with African children in Zambia, and am hoping to go back again next summer. I would also love to hear more about your experiences!! :)

    Stephanie
    Maestrabilingue.blogspot.com

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    1. Oh wow, I'm sure Zambia was amazing, too! Thanks Stephanie!

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  15. Oh my gosh- how amazing! You brought a tear to my eye!

    :)
    Christina
    Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge

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    1. Thanks Christina! I had some tears in my eyes looking through all of my photos again. It was refreshing and a great reminder to blog about my experience :)

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  16. Wow! I loved reading that post! What an amazing experience you had. I have spent some time in Guyanna, South America and Mexico and I also came back a changed person. I would love for you to write more about your trip!
    Don't forget, you will be featured this Tuesday on my blog.
    Dana
    Enter my giveaway @ Fun in 1st Grade

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    1. Thanks for the reminder, Dana! I will write more about Ghana soon :)

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  17. Thank you Kate for sharing. I am not a teacher; but I am very interested in service through CCS. I would enjoy very much reading more blogs about your experience.

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    1. Thanks Benita! Feel free to email me at edukate.inspire@gmail.com if you have any questions about CCS. I will be writing another post about Ghana soon!

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing this journey!!

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  19. I can't wait to read more about your experiences. I may need to start now raising money for a trip like that next summer! It sounds amazing!!

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    1. Thanks Celeste! Yes, you should start saving now ;) Airfare is crazy expensive! I recommend getting an airline credit card or debit card so you can start collecting frequent flier miles!

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  20. I would love to hear more about teaching overseas. How did you find out about the opportunity? It's always been something I would like to do over the summer break. Your pictures are amazing, I can only imagine the impact that trip has had on your life.
    Carrie
    The Common Core Classroom

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  21. What a great post. I volunteered with CCS in Thailand in 2009 and had a great time with the kids (4-5 years). It completely changes your perspective!

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  22. Hello,
    I love this post. Is there a way to donate to the Rise Preparatory school?

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  23. Thank you so much for this post! I've wanted to teach abroad for years, and I think this might help me fill that desire. I'm saving this for future reference! :)

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