I remember when i was little and my mom would take me to the teacher supply store off of john fitch highway in fitchburg, she would take me fairly frequently because i absolutely loved playing teacher in the basement. I would buy those little borders that would go around the bulletin boards, and flashcards, and all other crazy important supplies that every teacher needs. Other kids wanted dolls or fancy toys, and of course being the strange little thing that i was/am…i wanted teacher supplies. I would set up my dolls or stuffed animals and talk to my imaginary friends like i was the best damn teacher there ever was, and i think i meant it. I don’t remember when i slowly transitioned out of my “wanting to be a teacher” phase but eventually it happened and i hadn’t really thought about it since. Until yesterday.

You may be asking yourself : “well this is all cute and nice robin, but what the hell does this have to do with your life in ghana?” bear with me, i will explain.

Kate and i started teaching at the primary school in Deme yesterday. For now, most of the work building the nursery school is work that the skilled laborers have to do (laying the roofing, plastering the cement, ect.) Hopefully by the time we leave we’ll be able to get started on the painting so we can do something to help. In the meantime we go over to the school (which is so conveniently located right across the street from our house) and “teach” at the school. Schooling here is quite contrary to that in the states. First of all, it really starts at no particular time. We were told 8, so we get up at about 6:30-7 (which is complete torture for me, and there is no coffee, and most mornings i want to immediately fly home so i can sleep in and call it a day) and then we end up sitting around and waiting until the students and teachers show up. They kind of keep us around just in case a teacher doesn’t come in or doesn’t feel like teaching (both frequent occurrences.) Second of all, teaching in Ghana is nothing like teaching my dolls and stuffed animals in my basement. There are no bulletin boards to make fancy with my cool borders, there are barely any supplies to make fun name tags, and i’m thankful when my students have a pen to write with. The school is very simple, concrete floors and walls, a blackboard, and small desks that fit two students.

I’ve been teaching what i would consider to be the 6th grade. To be completely honest, i wasn’t really looking forward to teaching. I’m not really sure why, but that soon changed when i actually started. I’m teaching with a man named Erickson who John introduced us to the first day we went to Seviefe. He’s actually a great teacher (which is rare) but yesterday (my first day) he basically left me alone to travel to Ho. It was just me and my students and it’s very hard for them to understand me, with my american accent and all.

Despite not really wanting to teach in the beginning, i find myself loving being alone with the students. They’re all so sweet and respectful, calling me Madame or Madame Robin. I wanna cry every time one smiles at me and answers a question. I started teaching them math yesterday and we moved on to english today. I think i now understand why people become teachers. It is so rewarding when you see that flash of understanding come across a child’s face. I had them write me letters today, I gave them prompts and they completed the sentences. My favorite student, Promise (yes, i already have a favorite) wrote five perfect sentences, the last one being: “My best friend is Robin.” Talk about a tear-jerker. She’s spunky yet shy and absolutely beautiful. It’s fun to teach them and play around, they automatically think i’m funny by default so that’s also a plus.

I’m trying to think of what else we’ve been up to. We pretty much hang around the house. Ernestine cooks us all of our meals, but usually her and Charles don’t eat with us. We’re working on that though. We’re still eating a lot of rice and stews, which are delicious but getting a little repetitive. Last night we ate Banku, which is like like sour dough-type ball thing that you eat with your hands and dip in stew. Kate and i aren’t really fans. We’re trying though. We’ve also been drinking akpateshi (definitely spelled wrong,) which is their local moonshine. They make palm wine (which is what you get when you tap a palm tree) and then distill it to make akpateshi. They drink it a lot as a sign of respect to people such as the carpenters or works at the nursery school, or just at the end of a long day. Its is extremely strong and makes my insides feel all warm. It also puts me right to sleep.

Speaking of sleep, we’ve been going to bed around 8:30 or 9 most nights, so needless to say our social life isn’t exactly hoppin over here. Things are great though. The village is so nice. Charles looks after us like we’re his own children, as well as George and two men named Divine and Sammy. Deme worships John (literally, they call him Togebay – which means he is their chief of development) and because of him they would never let anything happen to us. Sammy is probably one of the most adorable old men you will ever meet and is slowly teaching us Ewe (we’re not half bad!) and he cares for us so much already. We’re in good hands for all you out there.

John officially left us on Wednesday so it’s just been Kate and me since then. We left Deme today after school and traveled to Ho where we’re staying for the weekend. Apparently there is a chief’s festival tomorrow which we’re going to and then Sunday we’re going to check out the Wli (pronounces blee) Waterfalls where we’re gonna hang out with some monkeys and hike up an awesome mountain/waterfall. Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Miadoego! (We’ll meet again soon) 🙂