Day 14

On Tuesday, July 5th, my day started off as usual: 6AM wake up, and then 7AM assembly. While it cracks me up every time to see the kids marching around for assembly like little mini soldiers, I also relish this hour as it gives me a chance to listen and observe for a bit. Though I love these little kiddies so much, I do not have much time away from them. By this, I mean that even when I am sitting in my bed and reading, I will have two to three kids climbing onto my mattress, braiding my hair, asking for food, etc. Assemblies give me a rare opportunity to watch the students without actually interacting with them, and so this is normally my go-to time for taking pictures (as, when the kids are running about, it’s hard to walk anywhere with my camera without them asking to hold it, learn how to use it, pose for it, etc.). One thing I have been really enjoying about my self-assigned #AccraFromAbove project is that it constantly forces me to wonder how I can solve the daily problem of finding a new perspective on things. I solved Tuesday’s problem by climbing to the school’s third story and photographing the assembly from over the balcony railing.

Brainbirds students (not all included) line up in their uniforms for their morning assembly.

Brainbirds students (not all included) line up in their uniforms for their morning assembly.

Assembly ended at 8AM and, after a brief teacher meeting, I headed to my first class of the day: photography with Form 1 (class 7). Form 1 is such a joy to teach as, since they are the oldest class in the school, they are far and above the best behaved. I repeated my lesson from the day before and sent the class out to complete their photo scavenger hunt assignment. Thankfully, everyone from this class returned with photos on their cameras, and some were really quite good! Perhaps because they are older, I feel that my Form 1 students are a bit more interested in photography than some of my other classes, so I am really excited to see how they grow and improve throughout our lessons. They took many more risks than class 5 did, one such risk involving leaving the school grounds, which I had told them not to do! Though I wasn’t thrilled that they had directly disobeyed me, I had to admit that the out-of-school photos were much better than the in-school photos. Hopefully these kids can keep up this quality of work when they take the cameras home this weekend to begin work on their final project. 

My favorite photos from Form 1's scavenger hunt are below:

A beautiful portrait of a shop keeper by  Barbara, Form 1.

A beautiful portrait of a shop keeper by Barbara, Form 1.

A woman selling bread crosses the street... captured by  Derby, Form 1.

A woman selling bread crosses the street... captured by Derby, Form 1.

"Mame" (the lady who sells indomie instant noodles at the school) is photographed by  Elizabeth, Form 1.

"Mame" (the lady who sells indomie instant noodles at the school) is photographed by Elizabeth, Form 1.

A cook stirring banku is captured by  Eugenia, Form 1.

A cook stirring banku is captured by Eugenia, Form 1.

Becky is cleaning as she is "snapped" by  Joshua, Form 1. 

Becky is cleaning as she is "snapped" by Joshua, Form 1. 

A glimpse into a local seamstress' shop by  Palmer, Form 1. 

A glimpse into a local seamstress' shop by Palmer, Form 1. 

After class, I walked back to my room and, on the way, saw the school cooks making breakfast. I saw this as another opportunity to add to my project, and had a great time chatting and laughing with them as I photographed their food preparation from different angles. I hung out with them for so long that I thought it appropriate to offer to help with their food preparation, and they gave me the task of stirring the pot of banku (a local dish made from fermented corn and cassava dough). It was so difficult. As an excuse, I will mention that this pot was teeming with banku, and that the dish is extremely thick, sticky, and heavy. In reality, I’ll admit that my arms have literally no muscle and that it’s difficult for me to even do a push up… so it’s not really surprising that I wasn’t the world’s best banku stirrer. The cooks had a great time laughing at my (failed) efforts, and then reclaimed the large wooden spoon (which, of course, they wielded with ease). Auntie Lilly happened to walk by as this was all going down, so I have her to thank for an amazing candid shot.

Photographs of the cooks preparing food (by me). 

Photographs of the cooks preparing food (by me). 

Me "helping" the cooks to prepare food (by  Lilly ). 

Me "helping" the cooks to prepare food (by Lilly). 

I followed Lilly to KG, and from 9:30 to 10AM, I read storybooks with the students. Then, after breakfast we continued on with weather terms (sunny, windy, cloudy, etc.). Thankfully, the kids picked up on weather much more quickly than they had on adjectives. While the class was still a bit of a handful and my throat hurt from my constant pleading with the kids to sit down and listen, I did notice that the kids were behaving a little better than the day before. I suppose that they are now getting more used to me, so I am hoping that by the end of the week the class will respect me enough to actually listen!

Class continued on until lunch break at noon, and as I left the class to grab my sandwich I noticed that one of the cooks was serving up what looked like crepes. They looked delicious and she said that I should try one. I really wanted to, but I had bread in my room that I was worried would go bad so I declined with a promise to try one another day. I suppose that Auntie Lilly overheard this exchange because, when I got back to class after the break, she had brought me a pancake as an early birthday present. Lilly’s gesture really touched me, as, after my conversation with Frederick, I was really not expecting to receive anything on my birthday. The pancake was delicious!

I continued to teach KG until 1:30, at which point Auntie Lydia (the secretary at the school) came in to help the class with their dance routine. Each class has a special role in the school’s graduation ceremony, and they are taking their roles very seriously… so much so that two hours a day have been reallocated from class time to graduation rehearsal time. The kindergarteners were very uncoordinated in their dance movements, but so freaking cute as they tried anyway. I watched them for a bit and then grabbed Mariana so that we could pick up our dresses (finally!) from the seamstress.

When we got to the seamstress, we received a big surprise. The women had used my fabric to make Mariana’s outfit, and her fabric to make mine. This was a major bummer as I had been envisioning a blue dress while Mariana had wanted a green top and skirt, though we received the opposite colors. It didn’t take us long to figure out the cause of the mistake: the fact that the seamstresses we’ve met here don’t write anything down. Though I don’t mean to generalize and say that every seamstress in Ghana is like this, both of the seamstresses that we have been to insisted that they would remember our measurements, fabrics, and specifications. We were perhaps a bit too trusting of these women because Mariana always had to ask for the same changes to be made, over and over again, at the first seamstress, and then we now had this color mishap at the second place. We all came to an agreement that we would not have to pay the second half of the money that we owed her (we had paid the first half when we dropped the fabric off), and then we took our outfits home. Moving forward, we are thinking we might either need to go to a new seamstress, or simply insist that they write things (such as which fabric belongs to who) down. 

After Mariana and I got back to the school, we heard some great news: we didn’t have school the next day! July 6th was Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan and a national holiday in Ghana. This was so exciting to hear as it meant that I’d have so much time to do birthday activities! After doing a bit of research, I decided I’d spend the next day at the beach and an art gallery, before finally grabbing dinner at Burger & Relish: a gourmet burger restaurant in Osu. Peace and Alice overheard Mariana and I talking (a natural side effect when 8 people are sharing one small space) and used the opportunity to suggest that we have our movie night on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, since I’d probably be getting back late from dinner. This was perfectly fine with me, though unfortunately our room’s movie watching habits had already lead us to watch all of the (3) kids movies that I brought. I felt bad breaking the news to the girls, though they were perfectly content with watching The Wizard of Oz again. This time, there were no tears and the girls even started to sing along a bit! After the movie was over I went to bed early so that I could have a ton of energy for the ensuing birthday festivities.