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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Age ain't nothing but a number here

A dear friend and faithful reader as a verrrrry important question about issues with ageism and teaching here. One thing I was worried about when I agreed to teach at the training college was the age issue. I am practically in the same age group as these students. There are many that are older than me, some married! Also, my colleagues are much much older than me... Ghanaians have thing thing about respecting adults and those who have authority over you (i.e. teachers) and to be honest, I haven't had an issue with my students because of that unwritten rule. Since I've started, I made sure to establish how serious I am with my expectations and I think that has prevailed above all. I stay true to my word, put all of my heart in teaching and they respond to my dedication by being best students they can be. My students have remained respectful and kind and see me as madam first, age-mate second. That doesn't mean there are a snarky few who try to call me by my first name or yell out how beautiful I am when I walk by. (Why thank you!) But I have to bite my lip to stop laughing because it's so funny how everyone sees me as "madam" and I'm barely 25. I heard one of my students chatting with her dad about me and she said, "oh, she's about 29, 30 years old". Ha.

I taught a district wide workshop to 100 primary school teachers on creating teaching learning materials to use in their English class. Majority of these teachers were twice my age and when they walked into my room, they just looked so surprised. I shocked them all the more by telling them that I'm a Ghanaian as well. But I taught a fun and great lesson and everyone was attentive and respectful the whole time. One older older lady approached me and thanked me for "coming back" to help out other people. I wonder if people's respect comes from my sense of duty and service to Ghana above my age and youthfulness. Either way, it makes my experience all the more pleasant and as grateful as they may feel about my presence here, the exchange of gratitude is mutual.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The end of the first semester... already?

For those who are joining me from my post in "The New Ghanaian", akwaaba!

All in all, this blog was inspired by my current teaching project with IFESH. So though I may have other posts that brag about my good time in Ghana, I'm really here on a mission to impact the teacher-training system and by God's grace, I think it's coming together.

We had 3 weeks of Christmas break, a week and half of classes then 2 weeks of end-of-semester exams. We're going on a 4 week semester break starting next Saturday. Ghanaians know how to break paaaaa.....
Anywho, the anxiety level was up after the relaxing aponkye Christmas break because I only had two weeks to  finish up the syllabus and it was a bit frantic. The last section I had to go over was voice articulation and pronunciation. I took a semester course on that subject in undergrad so I was pulling my hair out at the fact I had to get these English-as-a-second-language speakers how to understand the International Phonetic Alphabet in 5 days.... But God is good and I worked my tush off. I was able to wrap up the semester smoothly and plus my students had an 'aha' moment. Okay, so many Ghanaians pronounce the word "bath" as "baf". I was using the consonant sound "th" in the word "bath" as an example in class. They needed help differentiating the voiced and voiceless "th" sound. So finally I broke the difference down with the words: "bath" and "bathe". My goodness. See the exclamation in the classroom that day. I don't think they have used the word "bathe" before. And I don't think they used the "th" sound in that sense. It was hilarious. They were all insulting their primary school teachers at incorrectly teaching them how to pronounce the word "bath". By the by, "bath" uses the voiceless dental fricative and "bathe" uses the voiced dental fricative.

All in all, nothing compared to the satisfaction I felt when I watched my students leave the exam hall beaming with joy. They all clambered around me to shake my hand and thank me as they said the exam was very easy for them and they felt very confident in their performance. That, was a good feeling. With very limited resources and somewhat, little time, I was able to do what I intended to do. And that was to get my students to begin to understand how English language works, not just memorize the basics to get by on the exam. I feel like if I was to ask a student to identify how a direct object works in a sentence, they would be able to do it with ease and proper explanation. And they would no longer say "baf".

And that m'dear, would let me know my presence here is worthwhile.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Okay, here's the delayed post:)
Back in the States, every year around Christmas time, I always heard the whines of my parents, lamenting on how they wish they could spend "bronya" back home in Ghana. It was always either one thing or the other: the food, the family, the warmth, church celebrations, relaxing, etc... Being in the States during Christmas just reminded them that they were missing out on something. Thing is that it has been so long since they've been in Ghana, I wonder if they know what they really are missing? I mean, gone are the days of getting that "one" Christmas dress and shoe.
All the same, the approaching Christmas day was met with much excitement and talk. Like I said before, if it wasn't for the tacky Christmas decor and replaying of "Feliz Navidad" by Bony M., I would have forgotten to send my list to Father Christmas! All the same, it was lovely time to relax with family and friends, to observe and reflect. I spent Christmas in Kumasi with my grandparents and cousins. Then I was off to be spoiled by the Boatengs courtesy of my dear bff (one of 'em!), Nana. There's sooooo much to tell but I will try to do so without rambling on and on....
Christmas in Kumasi was bliss. My aunts and mom sent money for us to buy a goat so we had a chance to have goat (aponkye) everything! We had aponkye stew, aponkye soup, fried aponkye, you name it! We had a lot of food:)The atmosphere was quiet and friendly; the day was gorgeous with a beautiful breeze and high sun-- what a Christmas! I thought I would have the refreshing opportunity to not be pressured to give gifts and just enjoy Christmas for what it was about but Ghanaians caught on quick to equating Christmas with gifts. Overall, it was a wonderful time in Ksi.
A few days after, I went to Accra to spend the rest of my break with Nana. That's when I realized why everybody wants to be in Ghana during the Christmas holiday. Things are "on and poppin'(g)" in Accra Christmas/New Year's time. We barely slept. We were at this function one day, club hopping another, visiting friends and family, eating out at swanky spots, sleeping in, enjoying a posh beach wedding, dressing up for the fun of it, roaming Osu, just having a blast. It was great to be with familiar company again, Nana really showed me a good time. We even went to Togo for a day trip. There's really not much to say about it, just that we enjoyed the beach and a quaint French restaurant! I spent majority of my break finishing up my grad school apps but all in all, I was blessed in every way. I hope you all had a fab time as well!
Thinking at Lome beach

 If you can't Azonto, then you can't hang.

Good times with my girl:)

Crossover: Crossing over into new year with Mensa Otabil at Accra Stadium. Talk about being BLESSED!

Wedding at Ada Beach: It was gorgeous! Oh, and I bumped into Kwabena Kwabena in his dressing room. Long story, will share later-- and it's not what it seems!lol. He was a surprise guest at the wedding. Got a picture with him but it turned out really dark:( But he's a doll!

Bumped into a Columbia Uni friend at the wedding: hey Madonna! That was a treat:)

Love this family! Thanks Boatengs!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bronya in Ghana

When I lived in the States, it seemed that all my Ghanaian family and friends used to crave to be in Ghana for Christmas. They would talk about it so much that you would think Jesus was going to be reborn right there in Accra! I assume the big deal was because 1. the weather is pleasant 2. it's a great time to see family and friends 3. it's home.
So experiencing Christmas in Ghana was a semi-big deal for me because now I had the chance to see what the big deal was. Well, folks, I'm here to say Christmas is Christmas for Ghanaians. There's the caroling and decor just as we have in the States but here, it's almost out of place... If not for the tinsel and lights at every vendor in the market, I would have forgotten it was Christmastime. And oh, don't forget the annoying "Feliz Navidad" by Bony M. that Ghanaians love to overplay. The one thing I loved about Christmas here was the caroling in Twi. Man oh man. I don't speak/understand the language so well, but when I went to Carols Night on campus, I was almost moved to tears. The harmony, the voices, the celebration was just sheer pleasure. I loved that the most; celebrating the birth of Christ with songs of praise. It was wonderful.

But, the one thing that I now believe is highly associated with Christmas all over the world is Christmas presents. It didn't help that I was the supposed rich foreigner who had enough money to spare the whole community because I was randomly approached, or shall I say reminded, about giving people a Christmas gift. And these people were absolute strangers! For example, I had to go to the Nigerian Embassy for a visa (about that later) and the manager at the desk winked at me and said the next time I come back to pick up my visa, I shouldn't "forget" her Christmas present. Was I supposed to remember?
Or the folks who delivered my barrel of items I shipped from the States. They asked several times for a Christmas present. I assume they wanted a tip but geesh....
In these cases, folks just want a few cedis to grease their palm and I don't mind dashing money here and there but I had this creeping feeling that I wish someone would think to give me a gift too! I like Christmas presents!
But I thank God that I was even in the position to make someone's holiday nicer with money that didn't even equate $5. It seems that the little is greatly appreciated in this country and it was nice to be a part of that.

I hope you all had a happy Christmas, Afehyia Pa! (

and... I'm back!

Sorry for the unannounced hiatus! Things got really hectic the last week of classes before Christmas break. And then Christmas break happened and I was too lazy,  busy having fun to blog about it. Now I'm back on campus getting my students ready for the end of semester exam so I'm back at teacher mode. But puhleezzz, bear with me, I will blog all about my "Bronya" adventures in the upcoming week. The sad part is that my camera broke over the holiday (no idea what happened to it), so my pictures won't be posted until my friend emails pictures from her camera... Until then, wait with anticipation! In the meantime, I will post about a special Christmas revelation in the upcoming days... stay tuned!