Day 17

Friday, July 8th, was quite a busy day for me. I started off the morning with Form 1, and taught them photography from 7-8AM. This class was quite disappointing (contrary to their previous class, in which they did amazing on the scavenger hunt assignment) as not a single person did their homework. The kids gave me excuses such as “we didn’t have electricity,” and “we didn’t have time,” and “we thought we were doing it in class on Friday, we didn’t know we had to have it by class on Friday!” I was really frustrated to hear these excuses as they had days to complete the assignment, I made it very clear that it was due by 7AM on Friday, and all they had to do was answer two opinion-based questions in their notebooks. I re-assigned the work for the following Tuesday and made it clear that this time they really needed to do their work. After this minor setback, we went over the scavenger hunt assignment and talked about what they did well and what they could do better next time. We then discussed their final project, which in theory they should have written about in one of their two homework questions. I told them that they could answer this question right now in class, but that the other question was still due for next class. The students decided what they would like their projects to be about, and I then went over the weekend camera rules. This weekend would be the first time that the students would take their cameras home with them, and I was pretty worried about giving them this responsibility. I reiterated that I did not want them lending their cameras to anyone, losing the cameras, or taking selfies. Since I had another class later in the day I was not able to give them their cameras just yet, but I promised to give them back when the school day ended. 

From 8AM until 10AM, I helped Auntie Lilly to teach KG. Thankfully, the kids were a bit less crazy than they were when I first started teaching them on Monday (though they were still little balls of energy). We went over the previous night’s math homework (everyone did it!!), read a bit, and then I handed out candy as a late birthday treat. The kids braked for breakfast between 10-10:30, and then at 10:30 I had my second photo class of the day with Class 6. 

Class 6 is a bit further behind than my other photo classes just because we missed the class we were supposed to have on Wednesday due to the holiday. Because of this, they had not yet received their scavenger hunt assignment, so this is what we spent the class doing. I explained the project to the students and gave them their hunting lists, and then sent them off. While the pictures that they came back with were not as amazing as Form 1’s had been, they were still quite good! Some of my favorites are below:

An environmental portrait of one of the Brainbirds teachers by  J  effrey, Class 6.

An environmental portrait of one of the Brainbirds teachers by Jeffrey, Class 6.

A through-the-railing image of the store across the street from the school by  Alberta A., Class 6.

A through-the-railing image of the store across the street from the school by Alberta A., Class 6.

A shot of one of the school's clothes lines by  Sowah, Class 6.

A shot of one of the school's clothes lines by Sowah, Class 6.

A photograph of Sir Albert working on his computer by  Emmanuella, Class 6.

A photograph of Sir Albert working on his computer by Emmanuella, Class 6.

A beautiful head shot of Sir Phillip by  Ackom, Class 6.

A beautiful head shot of Sir Phillip by Ackom, Class 6.

When I was finished with my photography class at 12:30, I had a few minutes to eat lunch before “Mame” (one of the cooks at the school) collected Mariana and me to go to the seamstress. Mame had heard about the troubles that we had with our previous seamstresses and said that she knew of a very good one that she thought we’d have better luck with. Mame led the way to the shop, which turned out to be right behind the school. This seamstress seemed nice, but she didn’t speak much English so we had to rely on Becky and Mame as translators. We explained to her what we wanted and she seemed to understand but, yet again, she didn’t write anything down. I pleaded with her to at least write down my measurements, and she did do that, but she didn’t write down anything else (such as the style of the top I wanted or how I wanted it to fit me). We are going to pick it up on Wednesday so I am really hoping that she will have remembered everything!

After our visit to the seamstress, I had another pageant practice with my Miss Brainbirds gals. We practiced our group dance as well as our introductions, walking, posing, and questions round. Unfortunately we were not able to practice our talents, as most of the girls are singing or dancing and I was not able to download their songs since I ran out of Internet data. I had tried to buy more data the night before, though it did not work; after an extremely frustrating conversation with Vodafone customer service (is there any other kind?), I gave up and decided to go to the Vodafone store at the Accra Mall.

When our practice ended around 3:30, I hopped two tro tros to the mall and went to the store. Because I’m a total idiot, I forgot my hotspot at home, so there wasn’t a ton that the Vodafone tech guys could do to help me. Eventually, they decided to give me a new SIM card with 1G of data on it and told me to put the card into my wireless router when I got back. I got an ice cream bar at the Shop Rite before heading home (I can’t believe it’s been almost three weeks since I last had ice cream), and sat in a lot of traffic—getting back to the school around 8.

As soon as I got back, I rushed to put the SIM card into my router. Weirdly enough, my data balance was unchanged. This really freaked me out because I was supposed to be leaving the next morning at 6AM to go to the Volta Region and I had less than 70MB of data available to me. I had taken Frederick up on his offer to reach out to the exchange students at his university and they were so nice to allow me to come along with them on their trips to Afajato Mountain, Wli Waterfall, and a monkey sanctuary the next day. The lights were out in the apartment and Mariana and I had planned to go out for my birthday in less than an hour, so stress quickly overwhelmed my excitement about the trip/my belated birthday celebration (since, of course, I hadn’t packed or gotten ready at all yet). At Mariana’s prompting, I decided to embrace the potential risk involved with having no Internet or contact with the world for 48+ hours. I called the group leader from Mariana’s phone and was able to arrange with him a meeting spot that would allow me to meet the group safely despite my lack of communication ability. I threw some things into a backpack, threw my hair back into a halfway permissible braid, and Mariana and I took a taxi to Osu.

While we had hoped to meet our new friend, the manager at Burger & Relish, at his restaurant (since had promised us a few free drinks), we passed the restaurant and did not see him so we continued on to our final destination of the evening: Republic Bar. Republic is one of the most “famous” bars in Accra, and by this I mean that it’s a major tourism destination. We quickly stopped at KFC so that Mariana could grab a snack and then we met Quasi and two of his basketball teammates at Republic.

The bar was definitely cool, but not at all what I was expecting. Its online reviews had made it seem like a club, but it was more along the lines of a beer garden (totally cool, just very different than what I was picturing). We got a few drinks, danced a bit, and met some other travelers from Italy and France. Though I was having a good time, I knew it was not the smartest idea for me to be out so late when I had my trip so early in the morning, so I insisted on hailing a taxi home at 1AM. Mariana went back with Quasi and I jumped into a cab. Though my taxi driver was very nice, he unfortunately was bluffing a bit when he said that he knew where I lived… what should have been a 20 minute ride quickly turned into an hour trek and I finally got back to Brainbirds at 2AM. Because I was ~living on the edge~ with zero Internet, I was left with the predicament of how to actually get back into the school (they lock the gates around 11PM), but after yelling the security guard’s name a few times I was able to get in. I set one alarm for 5AM and another for 5:30, and then I passed right out.