Even though we have been here for six weeks, we continue to have new experiences and extreme adventures! This past week was filled with more teaching and coaching, culminating in a quiz competition on Thursday with McColin's Primary School competing against three other primary schools from the area. As girls seem to take education more seriously here, only two of the twelve competitors were boys. McColin's has won this competition in past terms, but this term the competition was fierce and they finished third. They had a fun time anyway, as the children from all the schools clapped for each other, danced together, and prayed together.
This week in school I taught everything from long division to French (since I don't know any French, this lesson was interesting to say the least!) Also, I have been teaching the children about computers lately. McColin's has three ancient computers that sometimes work and sometimes don't. Because the computers aren't dependable, I have started to simply lecture about different aspects of computers, such as the many uses of the Internet. Their minds were blown when I told them that many people shop or go to school via the Internet. The teachers even enjoy sitting in on these lessons to learn more about the Internet. Also, this past week I taught the 4th graders about the solar system. All the volunteers at our Ghana ACT volunteer house share our books throughout the summer, and I had just finished reading A Briefer History of Time, which had so much astounding information about space that I was able to incorporate into the lesson. I have been having a lot of fun teaching, and I usually leave time during the day for the children to ask questions about America. One of the very astute girls in 6th grade asked if Americans appreciate all that they have. I continuously learn new things from the children. They have taught Molly and I songs, such as Mawu Kenesa, which is a worship song that talks about how vast and powerful God's love is. They also have demonstrated their dedication and work ethic--one of the 8-year-olds told me that he wakes up at 4:30 every morning to pray, sweep, walk to school, sweep some more, and prepare his assignments for class. This is a typical schedule for these children. They are all so willing to learn and work hard; it is upsetting that they don't have the resources that other children have (such as dependable computers) because I know that if they had them, they would put so much of their time and energy into mastering them.
For our after school program, Molly and I hung up one of the basketball hoops that we had been constructing. The children absolutely LOVE basketball. Many of them practice shooting and ball handling any chance they get. Molly and I originally thought that we would try to create a sustainable after school sports program at McColin's that would encompass many different sports, but now we are focusing our efforts on creating a girls' and boys' basketball program at McColin's. One of the teachers, Michael, has played basketball competitively in the past, and he has expressed interest in coaching the children. Molly and I think that it will be easier to create a sustainable basketball program than a sustainable "after school sports program" simply because of the high interest level in basketball and the fact that it is a more specific focus. Anyway, the girls and boys alternate days that they stay after school to play basketball. During the day, the kids will ask if it is their turn to stay after and play. When we say 'yes,' I love to see the smile spread across their faces as they dance a little celebratory jig.
Last Saturday we climbed Mt. Afadjato, which is supposedly the tallest mountain in Ghana (though when we got to the top, we could see other mountains that were taller). The climb up was very steep, but it was only a 30-40 minute hike, so it was definitely not as strenuous as our earlier hike to the Upper Wli Waterfall. Once we got to the top, we wanted to relax and enjoy the view, but there was a troop of young Ghanaian police officers and a class of school children at the top. Many had brought their cameras to take pictures of the incredible view from the top, but when we arrived, we (the Yavus!) suddenly became a more interesting subject to photograph. They took hundreds of pictures of us. When we were finally able to take a few minutes to appreciate the view, we saw a huge waterfall in the distance. (I think it was in the neighboring country of Togo). We also saw some nearby villages. Even though it was an overcast day, we could see pretty far. The view was definitely worth the climb.
Last weekend we also went back to the Tafi Monkey Sanctuary and Wli Waterfall. We took the new volunteers that hadn't yet been there. It was just as fun to feed bananas to the monkeys as it was the first time. And the waterfall still blew my mind. It was even more powerful this time, and we tried to get close to it, but we were blown back.
Last Sunday, most of the other volunteers decided to go to chuch with Molly and me. We went to Global Evangelical Church in Fiave, which is on the way to McColin's. This service, like the last service we went to (at a different church) was very focused on asking for money--especially on asking us (the only Yavus in town) for money. It was a three hour service, which, if anything, is shorter than most. During the middle of the service, we got up and danced with some of the women in a circle in front of the podium. The dancing and singing was our favorite part!
As we start to feel that our time in Ho is coming to an end (we will be leaving in 2 weeks), we continue to develop relationships with the locals and learn as much as we can about their culture. We will be excited to come home and see our family and friends, but we will definitely miss many aspects of our volunteer experience in Ghana--especially the welcoming people in our village of Ho.