Saturday, December 31, 2011

First Term School Break

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Today is the end of the first week of the school term break and New Year's eve. I have used most of this week to work on some projects in the house where I live. We Americans just seem to have this urge to improve things or at least make more convenient or comfortable. For me that has meant getting my kitchen up off the floor and fully functioning. That project was put on hold while I concentrated on the challenges of the school term, academic and administrative.

The house owners brother who lives in the village has given me permission to use a third room in the house as a storage and work room. As you see in the picture, I am repairing an interior door that appeared to have the lock set force ably yanked out and that part of the door broken. I have installed a new lock set on the exterior door and replaced the torn mosquito screens and once the interior door is rehung, the room will be a more secure place to store things, including my hand tools.

The pieces of furniture are from the school. On the first day of school, I discovered that the students must provide their own desk and chair. One of the expectations for classroom conduct that I shared that first day was, "Do not leave any of your things in the classroom at the end of the day" by which I meant no trash/notebooks/other personal items. At the end of the school day I noticed students carrying out desks and chairs and asked one of the teachers what was going on. Of course the answer was, "You told them not to leave their stuff!" Once I got that misunderstanding corrected, I found there were abandoned pieces of furniture in much disrepair left in the classrooms, some used by prior students unable to afford their own. When I suggested repair to the Headmaster, like a good leader he said, "fine you are welcome to give it a try." When he asked if I knew what I was doing, I could only reply "Well I don't think I can make them any worse." So, this will be my project in the new year. I hope to find a student that may like to learn furniture repair, but I'll try that after I learn. If you know of a book on Furniture Repair 101, let me know. Repaired furniture will be used by students without the finances to buy their own.

Best I could tell from my village and the much larger market city close by, the Christmas season in Ghana is not close to what we hear, see, and experience in America. No lights, Christmas trees, wreathes, decorations, music, and all the commercial part of the celebration. Their celebration was on Boxing Day, I believe originating in Britain and celebrated the day after Christmas day. Lots of food and all the young children dressed in their finest to pay a visit to the Village Chief and receive some gifts from him. There was a noticeable decline in the population of free range goats and chickens in the village. That evening everyone dressed up and strolled through the village, visiting and talking to each other. That included the only white person in the village. I was invited to the local "Jam", but I believe wisely declined.

Term break continues for another week. I look forward to another challenging term with great anticipation and with renewed care in how I give instructions to my students.

All the best to you and your families in 2012.

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