ErinCraig's Travel Journals

ErinCraig

  • 32 years old
  • From Idaho, United States
  • Currently in Idaho, United States

Erin's adventures in Ghana

Many people have asked how they call follow my experience in Ghana. I'm hoping this blog will be a good way for everyone to read about my journey.

Feeling a bit guilty....

Ghana Cape Coast, Ghana  |  Sep 18, 2012
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Pure relaxating...and a bit of a tease! That pretty much sums up my weekend at Adomabo Beach Resort. It is absolutely gorgeous here! Its definitely a tease. I think being here has made all of us a bit homesick. It feels like we are worlds away from our projects and our homestays. We have been eating delicious (very westernized) food, staying in cute little huts, enjoying the sandy beaches and last but certainly not least, we have been enjoying VERY hot showers! My first one in over 2 weeks and I definitely did not want to get out. It felt pretty amazing! We also enjoyed a movie night. All 6 of us, crammed into our queen size bed, watching "Think like a man" on my Ipad. It was pretty awesome :)I have been feeling a bit guilty about the way my blogs might be coming off.I feel like I need to give an explanation as to why most of my blogs might sound like I'm here on vacation and not really meeting any of my goals with the school and orphanage. I am having a really great time most of the time. I don't like to write about my frustrations, insecurities and struggles because I'm putting this blog out for all to read. I am not only representing myself, but I am writing on behalf of ProWorld. For this reason, I have chosen not to write about some of my frustrations with my program. As you have probably read in previous blogs, my social life hasn't slowed down much since arriving in Ghana. I love staying busy, love going new places and love meeting new people. That definitely hasn't changed since leaving America. I wasn't really sure what I thought would change about that when I got here, but I have found that staying busy and meeting new people has given me even more opportunities to learn about that Ghanian culture. It's the little talks over dinner or the walks to work where I learn about the real Ghana. I get to have conversations about every day issues and struggles that Ghanians face.I have encountered many frustrations with my work at the school and the orphanage. The main struggles is not knowing my place or my role as a volunteer. I am expected to play many roles and many of them I feel completely lost in. For one, very few of the students speak english. The language barrier has been difficult. Second,  I have been working in various classroom, all different grade levels. Even within each class, the students are all across the board with where they are with their education. Not only are the students all across the board but VERY few of the students are able to afford the necessary materials to help them learn. Most of the students do not have the books and sometimes no one has the right book. That has been another frustration because they are putting us in classrooms, with no books or materials to teach from. It is extremely frustrating. Most classrooms have about 20-30 students. So, imagine arriving at school for the day, being shoved into a classroom with 30 students who speak very minimal english, you are told to teach a subject with no book, you have no idea where the students are in the book (when there is one), the students don't have pencils or paper to write down what you are attempting to teach from the chalk board, and by the end of it, everyone is just frustrated. This is why I have not written much about my program. I don't feel like I am helping them at all. I don't feel like I am doing what I thought I would be doing, and for that reason, I have had to adjust my thought process and realize that I can't have any expectations from this point on. On the up side, I have met some absolutely amazing children. They literally just hang on the volunteers. To me, they seem to be in need of attention, which I am more than happy to give them. I love getting to the school and having all the children run up to me. I love how they fight over who gets to sit on my lap, I love when they play with my hair, I love their sweet smiles. Almost daily, one or more of the students will be sick. They curl up on the benches and sleep. I love holding them when they don't feel well. It breaks my heart to see how sick they are and know that I can't make them feel better. I just know that when I'm feeing miserable, I want my mom to be holding me, so I hope that I am at least giving them a little love and comfort. I really enjoy working with the KG2 students. They are around 7 years old. For the most part, the students are pretty well behaved. I'm pretty sure they know that I won't cane them and therefore, they act up a bit more than the other classes. If they get too loud, another teacher will step in and they instantly start behaving. It is frustrating at times because of the language barrier. When I try to tell them not to do something or to sit down, they sometimes laugh and I can't understand what they are saying. I'm sure they are probably laughing about how there is not much I can do when they are acting up. I only have 2 weeks left at the school. I'm feeling very pressed for time. I want to contribute something! I have made a list of different things that are needed at the school. I have received my project money so I can start doing a little shopping. One thing that the school could really use is some large trashcans. There is trash EVERYWHERE. The majority of people just throw their trash on the ground here. I think myself and another volunteer are going to have a clean up day at the school once I get the large trashcans. We are going to do a little lesson on recycling and what can be recycled and what needs to be burned. Hopefully we will make it fun for them and they will want to to continue keeping their school clean. I have also requested a list of books that the school needs so hopefully we can at least make sure they have one hard copy of all the books the school uses so that with future volunteers they will be able to better assist the students. I'd also like to get some educational posters to hang up on the walls. Probably just some simple alphabet ones and some counting ones. The school is in need of chalk, pencils, paper and sharpeners so I will be using some of that money for that as well. I am also doing my research on a program for the parents. I am not sure when I will be presenting the information or if it will even be a formal program. The director said that it might just be very casual. The parents will come up to the school and meet with me if they want information. Again, I'm concerned with the language barrier. I thought about getting something printed so I can give it to them, but many of the parents do not read and if they do, most likely not in english. I haven't even completely figured out what it is that i want to educate them on. I've written down a few ideas. It will most likely be around basic safety, like road safety, fire safety and drinking clean water. I need to talk to Nana about some other ideas or other safety concerns that might be good to discuss with the parents. I also wanted to do a piece on positive reinforcement and work with them on how to establish alternative ways to help with behavior modification. I just really hate the way the children are punished here. I'd really love to do some work with parents/ teachers about other ways to get children to behave better. I am just so limited with time. I'm not sure I will get everything accomplished that I want. I figure I can at least run the ideas by them and then if someone is interested then maybe they will want to continue it once I am gone. It doesn't hurt to try, right?!I hope that I've explained myself a little better. I am having a great time here in Ghana, but it has definitely been harder in some ways that I imagined. I feel like the first two weeks were the "honeymoon" stage and now it is reality that I will be living here for another month and a half. I know that I can do it and I will embrace every obstacle. I am learning so much here and I know that it is only going to get better. I choose to write about the really good times I'm having because it keeps my mindset positive. No one wants to read about how difficult it is when the electricity goes out multiple times a week or how the majority of the mornings we don't have water. No one wants to hear me complaining about how I eat the same food almost every single day. At least I'm eating, which is better than a lot of people here in Ghana. No one wants to hear about how the smells of the sewers upset my stomach or how I get so car sick on the way to Sankofa that I nearly feel like I'm going to vomit until about 2PM daily. No one wants to hear about how many times I've been ripped off buying clothes or getting taxis because I can't speak the language and people take advantage of foreign people like crazy here. I have chosen not to write about that because I don't want to give the wrong impression of Ghana or the people here. The truth is, every day gets a little better, I learn something new and I get a little smarter. The truth is, I have already met some lifelong friends, have visited some absolutely gorgeous places and I have began a journey for ME. The truth is, there is no one else in the world I would rather be....life is working out just the way it's supposed to. So....thank you so much for the support. I hope that I have not let anyone down and I hope that I can leave a little bit of me with the people in Ghana. No expectations from here out....I'm living for the moment and learning to be thankful for every situation.Love and miss you all! XOXO! Your sweet messages are helping me so much. Thank you for believing in me and thank you for the continuous support. 

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