Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FLUSHING MY TOILET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi! Cool idea! My camera is a Sony Cyber-shot, 16.1 MP, 10x optical
zoom. I would guess the card would work on my camera just as well
though. I am SO happy you got your visa. I spent the night up and
worried about it after I spoke with you. I am SO excited for your
visit. Also, please be prepared for MANY people (by people I mean
largely little kids) to be excited for you to come too.

We write in diaries weekly and today's topic was, "My mother is coming
on Saturday, she is a little scared to come to Ghana because she
hasn't been here before, what would you say to her to make her less
scared." Grade 4 (who I usually want to disown) blew me away. I will
include some quotes here.

"Please Madam Elizabeth, do NOT be scared. Ghana is just the same as
your country. If you are scared of my country, maybe I will be scared
of you."

"Do not be afrid, people do not kill people in Ghana. No one lies or
steals or does bad things."

"There is no wicked person in Ghana. Do not be afraid of anybody not
even a theif or the police."

"Madam Elizabeth, you will have many friends in Ghana and you will
play umpe and read story books in Ghana."

"Please do not be afrid, please, Madam Elizabeth. Please do not be
afrid of Ghana. It is a peaceful place. Please."

"Ghana is sweet like a mango and an apple."

"Do not be afraid. I will be your friend. You are like a mother to me."

Also, there were several photos of the Ghanaian flag. The students are
stoked. There was some cheering and jumping up and down and, yes,
downright pandemonium in the classroom today over the prospect of your
arrival. So, please tell them their words made you less scared.

On that note, any chance you could bring a few bags of some small
American candy (enough for 90 kids?) One piece each. As your
reputation has nearly promoted you to diety status, I think a candy
would put it over the top. Eh? Eh?

Dresses, mom. Legit. And deodorant. Legit.

ON THAT NOTE, after a long and ugh 5 days, WATER IS BACK! Oh, to
flush! To wash panties! To wash hands! To flush! To flush! To flush! I
can't explain the joy of flushing away my 5 days of...waste, shall we
say, in the toilet.

You know how I'm still, 8 years after living in Thailand,
exceptionally grateful for washing machines to wash clothing? I
anticipate Ghana shall yield a residual giddiness with flushing
toilets. Flush. Flush. Flush. I am drinking an abundance of water now
largely because I am so excited to flush some more.

Good god I hope there is water when you're here. Let's keep our
fingers crossed, eh?

In other news, I went to the beach yesterday with Dima. It was DIVINE.
Beautiful space, water, sand (mmm!) and we were the only ones there.

Saturday I took Precious to the Accra Mall. It's like a US mall, but a
bit smaller. It's an expat hangout and she'd never been. Josephine was
supposed to go too, but she fell into a hole while riding her bicyle
so was laid up. The trip was...not exactly a success. She was so
scared, I think. She refused to go into any store and was stonefaced
throughout the trip. No smiles, no laughs at all. I took her to see a
movie -Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud (I think that's what it's
called) and she had never seen a movie theater before or even knew
what to expect. Approximately 2 minutes into it, she fell asleep and
remained asleep throughout the entire movie. I bought her a pizza,
something she hadn't heard of, as well. She had 1 bite and then said,
"I am only eating more of this because you eat things I cook for you."
After she forced down a piece, we left and, at the first market we
found, she bought all the Ghanaian breads, meats, fruit, and drinks
she could find to cleanse her mouth. She said she had a nice time,
but, eh, I'm calling the trip a failure. I can't feel too bad though
because it's the same thing I've done, you know? Someone spends a lot
of time/effort to do something for you or give you an experience they
are SURE you'll enjoy, and you don't. You try to be grateful and, in
fact, you are for their effort, but, it's not a nice experience. For
example, when Beauty slaved away to give me a fufu feast and I so
desperately wanted the eating experience to be over. Live and learn
and try again. :)

I hope the snow is perfect when it comes and leaves at JUST the right
time as well.

I love you! I don't think I'll see my email before you come, so call
me with anything last minute. ALSO, please get dad's chest and belly
and length of shirt measurements.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Hi! We talked since this right? I will see you at the airport, after
my debacle buying our tickets, I'm getting good at it.

I'm glad I don't have worms, but the ones in my drain are
de-sgust-ing. I have no tolerance for them and yet no ability to get
rid of them for I fear I might die/barf if I try.

I hope the books come for her. St. Cloud, man, there's not much there.
I shall go mad I think if attending school there.

I would like 6 dispensers and just enough candy for each dispenser.

Tell Dad I am. :) Though, you know what, sometimes here I wake up
crabby. That doesn't usually happen in the U.S. (well, post-coffee is
better than pre-coffee of course, that part goes without saying) and I
don't know what to make of it. I can't shake it either for a long time
when I wake up crabby and I can't discern any legitimate cause.

Also, yes, you must love me. Good thing I love you too, otherwise it'd
be terribly awkward. How were the shots? Are you feeling healthy? Has
your visa arrived?

Just a little over a week, can you believe it? Crazy soon!

Before I forget, Godwin just asked if you could bring some colored
paper, one packet of regular printer sized paper and one that is sized
something called, “A3” and apparently, dimension-wise is the length of
legal sized paper and the width of 2x printer paper. Check Office Max?


Guess what? The water finally returned! I cleaned my toilet and life
is pretty good. Not much has been happening. I went to Accra on Monday
to buy our flight up North and it caused me nearly 100 headaches, but,
thank goodness, I was able to buy it. Whenever things are strange or
non-functioning here it seems that someone will smile and remark,
“That’s Africa!” and typically I just think, “Well, that’s very nice,”
but in Accra I wanted to say “That’s Africa!” and then pummel a
punching bag. :)

It takes a lot of patience, you know? I mean, not just planning your
time here, but life generally. I think, on the spectrum of patience,
I’m on the more-patient side (by no means the most patient, but
definitely not the least), but it sure takes a lot out of me. In Accra
to show the patience for the ATMs, the flight company, the general
lack of understanding. In class everyday for the kids. It’s so easy to
be patient when it’s 1:1 or 1:2, but when it’s 1:47 and you’ve got 3
punky kids who are just annoying the spit out of me, it’s hard. Some
days, I just want to toss them all out of the room and have myself a
good scream (most days, however, I just want to collapse into a group
hug). It’s something that I constantly have to think about and
practice and really put in painful effort. It’s all good for me
though, I know.

Oh, another thing, to give you a heads up so that you are not
disappointed to see it. There is a lot of garbage on the ground.
There’s no system for waste except for sweeping it away and then
burning it, so please be prepared for it.

I’ve led my second teacher training workshop. This one on sensory
integration. I think it went well, and hope the information will be
utilized. Next week I’ll be teaching them ice breakers and games. Any
suggestions? I’ve got about 12 students. What a cool opportunity it

Grade 4 drove me half mad this week (see the previous note about
patience, sigh) and, as of next week, will be working on making their
own books which could be cool if I don’t disown them all in the
meantime (I love them, I promise, but, gosh they’re hard). Grade 5 is
doing poetry. I am having them write a Shakespearean sonnet for
homework this weekend. How adorable is that? Well, modified to lack
the iambic pentameter (they’ve just learned what a rhyme is this
week), but still. It’s adorable. The ones I’ve seen so far are sweet.

I just learned my Friday classes will be cancelled again because
they’re sending the kids to farm. It’s a bother, you know, Godwin
wants really high results from the kids and is trying to implement
strategies to elicit improved marks, but, at the same time, the
farming he asks for reduces the time allowance for the students to
learn and reduces their chances of actually being able to improve
their marks. He doesn’t really seem to see any issue with the high
expectations of academics and farming, but when you take away a whole
day every week, it’s a huge deal. Blarg. I’m glad we don’t do that in
the U.S.

This Saturday I’m taking Precious and Josephine to the Accra Mall for
an outing. They’re always pampering me so much and buying me things
and cooking for me so I want to give them something and, a trip to the
mall is as close as a trip to America as I can afford. I told them I’d
buy them pizza too. They have no idea what pizza is, but are both
excited nonetheless. Also, on Tuesday Dima and I will field trip to
the beach after I finish class. I’m desperately excited.
Also, I’ve booked us a swanky hotel for the night you arrive. I hope
it’s as nice as it sounds.

There are other things I’d like to write, but they’d all sound so
terribly disconnected if I included them in this email so I’ll wait
for another day. Can you bring my small Elements of Style book, Strunk
and White, which is grey and in my bedroom on the shelf?

Love you!

Oh, the hotel is Afyia's Village. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ps: Mom, you ignored my question.

Do I have worms? Or is it only my drain?

At least 2 packages shall be arriving for me. Just so you know.

Hi Mom!

I'm booking flights and hotels today for your visit. I must really love you. :)

We haven't had water for over 3 days and, good golly, I'm disgusting. Not to mention my unflushable toilet. Ugh. Here's hoping there's water while you're here.

If not though, I can promise an "authentic African experience."

Yesterday was my fufu cooking class with Beauty. We spent a solid 6 hours making palm nut soup and pounding the fufu. Also, to be completely honest, I suppose I should clarify that by "we" I mean "she" as she quickly decided that I was not only incompetent at cutting vegetables, I was a lousy pounder, and I lacked the courage to flip the fufu while she pounded. Though she insisted on taking pictures of me "pounding" the fufu, it was entirely for show. Then, I was served the LARGEST portion of fufu ever, which I could not possibly finish though, by god, I tried. It wasn't unfinishable due to the non-deliciousness of the food (though that was a struggle), simply due to the sheer amount. I have no idea how Africans can pack away so much food at one time.

Also, of course I'll worry about you and dad (and the catbrains). Just as soon as you stop worrying about me I'll be done though. :)

Okay, Afia Village Hotel in Accra booked for the night you arrive. 1 king size bed with ocean view. 2 nights booked at Mole Motel, 2 single beds. Whew. Flight next. Bus we'll have to get the morning we arrive in Tamale, but, per my housemate and the fellow at Mole Motel that shouldn't be a problem.
Oof. And, apparently I have to go to the office in Accra to book our flight. It can't be booked until paid for and it can't be paid for via phone or internet. Gosh. Apparently, I shall be taking a field trip this week.

Well, I've tried. I'll work on it more.

You know what I was thinking lately, it's amazing how being foreign or relating to a foreign person/situation makes interaction so childish. I don't mean childish in that negative, silly/unintelligent way, I mean it as simple and excited and, truthfully, a bit foolish sometimes. Yesterday as Beauty, Elom, and I were chatting there was so much discovery going on amongst ourselves. Beauty asked at a moment, "Is it true that they burn people when they die in America?" Me - "Yes, creamation, perfectly normal." As for me, this week I accidentally showed my beads to half my grade 5 class. My shirt came up and pants sank down a bit. I hadn't noticed until, in a bit of a flurry, several of my girl students surrounded me and yanked down my shirt and up my pants and I heard Lemuel (are you still following the characters?) say, "I did NOT see your beads!" Of course this means he did see my beads. I'm not bothered at all, of course, but it caused a touch of a panic and several people since have sat me down and explained to me the importance of keeping your beads secret and the implications of the fact that Lemuel now almost certainly knows the color. I also got into a bit of a discussion with Elom and Beauty about homosexuality. It's illegal here, a concept completely mind-blowing to me (how does one ban a natural disposition?) and the idea that there are actually people who are gay is mindblowing to Elom and Beauty. I got a bit flustered, of course, as it's an issue that I hold in very high esteem and, despite the fact that they both believe it should remain illegal, we had a civil discussion on it. Beauty - "So, does that mean that a man and a man will share a bed? Can they have children together?" Me, "Of course they can share a bed! What couples don't? And, no, they can't have a child, they don't have the parts for it, but they sure can adopt."

My god, I smell so gross mom. I can barely concentrate.

It's a lot of innocence in questioning, in assumptions, in discovery. It's nice, though, of course, it makes you feel quite foolish often enough (I bought some under short things that I thought allowed me to sit with my legs spread while wearing a skirt, they covered me solidly down to my mid-thigh, then, when attempted Stronggy told me quite sharply, "Put your legs together!!!" Lesson learned, kind of).
In other news, I've accidentally found myself vaguely addicted to a Mexican tele-novella. I've been watching at Precious and Josephine's house and it's pretty amazing. It's called Teresa. I've spent entirely too much time thinking about it. Lawer and Nicholas are pretty jealous of the time I spend there, but it's nice to be so girly with them. Nicholas and Lawer are also not in favor of me spending so much time with Elom as they keep suggesting to me, "He canes a lot, you know. Why are you going to see him? Are you wearing perfume? Why do you wear perfume when you see him?" (For the record, I've been wearing perfume daily, to hide the stench - common theme of this email, eh?)

Anyhow, does that mean you haven't had an actual snowfall at all over winter?

Also, before I forget. Be sure to have my cell phone with you when you travel. I'll pick you up at the airport, but, so you know, first there will be people meeting you off the plane, those will not be me, then there will be people in the first room after the visa checking, those will not be me, then more people in the 3rd room, still not me, then, when you walk outside of the airport, I will be there. I'm guessing there won't be many white girls there, so I suppose I'll stick out.

Please do not forget the jawbreakers. The kids have gotten excited as I've vaguely promised to share one or two.

Love you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mom, there are gross wormy things in my bathroom drain. Do they live there I have worms and are they falling out of my booty? Is that possible? (Please say no.)

Umm, hey mom, you didn't email me back. It's been nearly a week. What's up? Are you okay? I'm calling you tomorrow to make sure you didn't slip on the ice in a dramatic way. You didn't did you? And, if you didn't, why did you not email me back???

I've been wanting to write you at various times so I've previewed them in my notebook in preparation.

Man, now I'm all worried and can't even concentrate on emailing, moooooom.

First, in brief, things are going well. Vomit count is still steady at 3. Saturday I went to visit Elom at his house in Kasseh and we ate coconuts with a cool lady named Beauty. Saturday she's teaching me a fufu cooking class. Fufu is like the national delicacy. It's...umm...not very pleasant. It's a gooey lump, like a sticky dumpling, composed of plantain and cassava that you pound for a long time. Sunday I went on a walk with Nicholas and Lawer and it was really nice. We mucked through bogs and ran into foxy farmer who we caught farming in his boxer briefs. He quickly put his pants on as soon as he saw me (what a pity!) and proceeded to dote on me while consistently calling me "white man!" Then he gave me a ton of sugar cane to bring home. Delicious!

Today I led my first teacher training workshop. I taught them 4-mat class construction (per Rebecca, of course) and I think it went well. They all took notes and I am excited to see what they have to show for themselves next week. Next week I'll teach them sensory integration. Good stuff since I know what that is. :)

Caning is...well...driving me crazy. I can't explain how much I fear bursting into flames of ire. Actually, I wrote about it in my notebook, just wait.

Grade 4 is still in English boot camp. Grade 5 starts poetry tomorrow. All is well with the kiddos. OH! Guess what? Grade 5 moved into the new building. it's not done-done, but it's done enough and, lordy me, it's wonderful! I can hear students when they talk and they can hear me too!

Anyhow, per my notes:


Stop caning. Stop caning. Stop caning.

Seriously. Stop hitting children.

Teaching here and having the opportunity to watch others do the same has caused me to reflect on my own education. I'm incredibly grateful for the education you provided for me, both in terms of my formal schooling and my informal education.

I'm grateful that my teachers in grade school believed in fun. To Ms. Opitz in grade 1 for playing guitar. To Ms. Krebsbach in grade 2 for having such a loud, easy laugh. To Mrs. Kuennen in grade 3 for being such a good sport in dealing with our whoopie cushion exploits on April Fool's. To Mrs. Scott in grade 4 for...well, I don't remember much of grade 4, but I do remember that she had no eyebrows, only a line drawn in and that fact was both hilarious and incredibly strange. To Ms. Younger, grade 5, for letting us giggle throughout the Family Education section of class upon every uttering of the word "penis." To Ms. Neiber in grade 6 for the cool science experiments.

I'm grateful that I adore reading. For this I thank you. I remember you reading me stories at bedtime from my earliest years. I remember feeling myself doze off and cautioning you, "Mom, I'm closing my eyes, but I am not sleeping, so don't stop reading, okay?" Followed by your, "Yes, of course."

I'm grateful, of course, that, other than my time in France, I never worried that I might be hit at school. Though we weren't in Cannes long and I was quite young, I still remember the fear of getting slapped with a ruler or seeing my classmates yanked off the floor by their ears. I remember the black hair, red lipstick, and oft worn black cape of the teacher (how I thought she was a witch!). I remember how hard it was to lose yourself in learning when already completely preoccupied with thoughts of self-preservation.

The kids skip school here a lot, sometimes because they are sick, working, or just uninterested, but I don't blame them too much. As an adult, there is no way you could convince me to go to school if I knew I would/could/might be caned.

Heck no. Seems to me that my time would better be spent making ant cities in the sand.

On that note, I'm grateful to the teacher/s that taught me (in junior or senior high, perhaps elementary as well) about ethnocentrism. I'm guessing many teachers taught it because it's a term so strong in my mind. Ethnocentrism: looking at other cultures' thoughts, beliefs, and practices without the immediate conception that your own are better.

Many things here are different, of course, and I'm grateful that I've been trained to approach most of these differences with an immediate reaction of "Whoah! That's totally different!" without labeling them as good or bad.

Even with caning, I've been deliberating whether my disapproval is based on ethnocentrism and, after consideration, I think it's not important whether or not it is or could be - caning is wrong. I say that not just as a white American in an African country, I say it as a woman and as a human.

Children are pretty perfect. They're still free to dream and think without too much fact bogging them down. They're still housed in bodies overflowing with energy that sometimes they can't possibly stand to sit still or slowly walk somewhere, else they might explode. They are still so open and vulnerable that every moment has the opportunity to change their lives as every moment they experience now is aiding in the creation of their adult minds.

So, no, it's not okay to cane. It's never okay to cane. I don't care if it's "part of the African culture." It's wrong.

Stop caning. Stop caning. Stop caning. Seriously.

Love you.

Kids say the darnest things...

Lawer came over the other day in a bit of a slump. He had done poorly on his math homework and had gotten caned something fierce (a fact he told me, then was reconfirmed as Nicholas came later and said, ""Madam, did Lawer tell you? Ooof! He got it BAD today.") I told him I was sorry and I thought it sucked and asked if there was anything I could do. He said, "Nah," and sat on my bed beside me as I read my book, then said:

"Our languages are different, you know? My language is for everyone, yours is the language with the power, but it's not for everyone. It's expensive."

Me: "What do you mean expensive?"

"I mean, you want to learn Dangbe and you've got many people here who will teach you for free. It's a gift. For me, if I want to learn English I must go to school and it's expensive. My family can't pay my school fees, but without your language I have no power."

(Lawer and I after our hike, sporting our sugar cane booty.)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

You're coming to Ghana and I've got beads! Both major and exciting!

Oh my gosh. The internet just lost my entire email. I might scream.


So, yes. Good addresses. Excited you're coming! And I think, from what dad said on the phone tonight, that you're set on the visa junk. Also, don't worry about my blog. It's straight up my emails to you. That's why I haven't told you about it. :)

I've tried to send you my Ghana wish list via text to Karl, but in case it didn't take:
1. Pepto Bismal chewable tablets (uff duh)
2. Jawbreakers (for me, craving like a pregnant lady)
3. PEZ for the kids (ask Karl if you don't know what this is)
4. Boggle, the game. A cheap version, something simple.
5. Catchphrase, the game. I think that's what it's called. The rules are that you must get your team to say a specific word without explaining it using various related words.
6. 2 flower hair clips. Like you got for Della's girls once. For adults, so please make sure they look lovely and womanly.
7. Laminating paper (enough to laminate 90 bookmarks the kids make)
8. The Umbrella Man, by Roald Dahl (for a gift)
9. Glow in the dark star stickers and/or hologram stickers. Essentially, stickers that are cool for big kids too (remember, my students range from 7-18)
10. Kids crossword, word search, and mad libs books. Grade 4 appropriate.
11. Free maps. I used to get them in the mail from charities and am guessing you do too. Bring them!
12. Pictures of my home and friends and family to show people. I will HOPE that friends send you a photo or two to bring. :)
13. My old big box of Crayons, in the spare room. There are like 300 colors of something ridiculous like that. The kids would go bananas for them (they're learning idioms now).
14. My computer? So I could put photos on and have you bring it back. What do you think? If no, it's okay.

That's all for now. It's a big list, I know. If you don't bring anything I'll still be overjoyed at just you. Many people are already getting excited to meet you. I've set the bar high.

Also, to dress: light dresses is my major suggestion. It's HOT always. Also, in Ghana showing any portion of your belly (even on accident) is a major taboo. So, be sure all shirts are long. Funnily enough, showing your boobs is less taboo.
On that note (belly, not boobs), all Ghanaian women wear beads around their lower waist from infancy through adulthood. It's tied on and never comes off (even to shower or anything). In my attempt to be more African Precious and I went to the market and got me some. Then she put it on me and told me not to get more fat or I would have to get new beads. Also, she told me that she practically saw my bits when I pulled my pants down a bit to get to my waist. ON THAT NOTE, also please bring some more panties for me. Lacy panties are not holding up well against hand washing. I've got some in the house there I think. Anyhow, I've got some beads on. I'll show you when you come and, mom, they make me feel incredibly sexy. I told this to Precious and she said, "Of course! Why do you think we wear them?" It's nice. You have to be real secret about them though because the men can't know the color or, so the rumor mill goes, they've had some business going on in your nether regions. I've blabbed a lot about getting them (terribly excited am I) and have been ragingly obtuse with my "BUUUUUUT I'm not telling you the CooooOOOlor" said in a sing-song way like a child (I'm perhaps spending too much time with grade schoolers). Related, I went to the market for the first time this week. It's 15 minutes away by bumpy dirt road taxi (unrelated, guess what? It'll be the Ghanaian 4th of July when you're here, wahoo!) and, mom, it was AMAZING. Nothing touristy, but cool stuff and beautiful fabrics and, unlike markets elsewhere, no one hassles you. I love it. I'm going back tomorrow with some of my students.

On that note, Lawer and Nicholas. I told you about them, right? They're my buds from class.They took me on a big walk/photoshoot on Sunday around the village. I laughed so hard my belly ached. They're killer. I'll attach a photo (one of the 800 they took) if it works. We sang church songs and I learned how to climb a palm tree (easier than you'd think).

Also, to get a taste of Ghanaian music, go to youtube and type in azonto. Find the most viewed video which has two people with white masks on and watch it. It's awful. That's the hip sound here. The kids are awesome at dancing to it though.

In other news, class went well. My 5th graders had their plays this week and, though we've been working on it for weeks, the day before when I wrote on the board "Remember: EVERYONE must have a costume and EVERYONE must have their lines MEMORIZED" I was greeted with blank stares and "Memorized? Madam, what is that?" and "Costumes? Everyone? Does the alligator need a costume? Do I have to memorize my lines? All of them? But Madam, there are many!" Repeat 47 times. So, I was terrified they would suck. (I tried to nicen the language to say perform poorly, but in truth, I was worried about them sucking.) Do you ever worry that your students will suck? Anyhow, performances were today and some on them did, in fact, suck, but some were WONDERFUL and, the most important lesson for me was to learn that, sucking or not, we all survived. And learned something from the effort. Glad it's done though. Poetry next! I'll try to include a photo to the email from the plays, of one of the billy goats from the 3 billy goat's gruff.

Whew. Novel. Mom, what do you want to do while here? Please be honest and frank. Also, what do you not want to do? I am thinking I'd like us to go on a safari but it is 12 hours by bus or a flight, thoughts? I'll research.

Also, I drank 1 liter of beer last night and it was wonderful. I love beer. I love coffee. I love fruit. I love my new beads. I love my students. I love Ghana (even though we haven't had water in a long while and I wish I could flush). I love sweating. I love the market. I love learning Dangbe (I've now learned 1-9 and how to buy a pineapple and say cow and goat. Ghanaians are very impressed/laugh at me a lot).

And, of course, I love you lots. Excited to see you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

BIG NEWS: I got a toilet of my own! Also, still on coffee!

That score is good. Guess what? I didn't vomit this week. I think it
means I'm acclimating because I've been eating all sorts of
interesting things. You're coming?! Hooray! I want to go to Mole
National Park and everyone wants to meet you. You will need a visa.
You have to send your passport in, it takes 2 weeks. You can either
apply as being financially solvent or have Godwin write you an
invitation letter. Let me know or have dad call me if you want a
letter from him, but I think you'd be alright with the financial
solvency option. It's not too sunny here. I'm consistently shocked by
how pale I am. That also might be because I spend all my time with
black people. I'm losing eyelashes as well. Okay. I have already typed
an email and will add it here. I am very happy you're coming! I love
you and miss you so.

Hi Mom!

How are you? I am typing this email before I’m on the internet so I
can save internet time. I’m excited to see what you wrote. Another
week gone and, do you know what? Today is my one month Ghanaversary.
I’ve got that feeling like I’ve JUST arrived while still feeling like
I’ve been here for much longer. I was thinking today about all the
nice friends I’ve made and how varied they are (in no particular
1.      Stronggy and Rashid – housemates of mine. They are both dude
teachers, about my age, and good fun. I laugh a lot while hanging out
with them. 
2.      Dima – she’s lovely and a nice travel partner
3.      Josephine and Precious – they’re both ladies, also about my age,
that teach at the primary school like me. Today (much like other days)
Precious was feeding me Ghanain things and insisting that I eat more
and more and more because “We want your mother to know that we have
been taking care of Ghana. We want you to go back and be very fat so
everyone will know how nice Ghana is.” So, mother, if I’m hideously
obese upon my return, know that it’s your fault. Josephine keeps
trying to get me to show her my breasts because she wants to see if
they're white like the rest of me. I think she'd have a heart attack
if she discovered the pink areolas. :) I told her that I'll work up to
showing her. She's already shown me hers as an offering.
4.      Lemuel – my co-teacher, he’s just a sweet kid. I’m going to see him
play football soon and get a tour of his village.
5.      Nicholas, Ernest, and Mauwli – the first two are students in my
grade 5, Mauwli is in grade 6. They come to my house after school and
ask for more exercises to do. Bless. So, I make them English games and
word scrambles, and word searches. If these kids don’t end up taking
over the country, it’ll be a darn shame. They’re so sweet and smart
and hard working it blows my mind. Plus, they’re good fun.
6.      Theophilus – he also comes to hang out with me. He’s only 5 though
so he doesn’t do exercises. Mostly he just sneaks in cuddles. He’s
really cool.

Others as well. I’ve been so lucky to get to know such good people. 

This week grade 4 got a Coming to Christ speech from me. Of 41
students, only one did her homework. How does one get students to do
their homework when you can’t talk to their parents, give them
detention, or have them go to the principal? I’ve removed caning and
kneeling from the options of “punishment.” I don’t want to concentrate
on the “punishment,” how to I get them to do it before it’s due? I
remind and have them repeat and have them write it down and still,
nothing. It’s a challenge. I think I'll email Rebecca to ask her about
it. Glad that I've got her for a sister. I think about that a lot
while here. How brave she must have been to be in the Peace Corps.
Anyhow, I’m feeling a bit weird because I know I enjoy grade 5 more.
Eep! I hope I’ll learn to adore grade 4 the same. Grade 5 is busily
working on their plays. They’re writing scripts and making costumes to
turn books into little plays. I’m feeling proud of them, but they’re
working in little 6 person groups and they’ve never done group work
before so they’re struggling and I see many groups where one person is
doing all the work. Nicholas (see above) is doing all the work for his
group. Poor kiddo.

I also taught a yoga class to 120 kids. WHOAH. They did well.  After
I finished, one of the other teachers pulled me aside and asked “are
you a pagan?” I said no. Then, “are you a fetish priest?” I said no.
Then he asked what this yoga stuff was all about.

Today I didn’t have class (even though I had 2 spelling quizzes
planned and diary time and play rehearsal) because *drum roll* the
kids were instead supposed to spend the day peeling cassavas. Which
they did. Instead of class. Drives me crazy. Class is so frequently
cancelled because they have to carry buckets of sand, tote bricks on
their head, or do some other chore (child labor) that I miss a ton of
class time that they really need. I’m trying to handle it well, but
it’s a shame and the kids all miss English class too.

The funeral was last weekend. I hope no one dies again. My god. A
solid 3 days of house-shaking bass. SOLID. 24 hours a day. I nearly
went mad. Coined with Godwin’s small herd of auntie’s that were in the
house and blaring the TV, whew.

I went to Accra with Dima on Sunday and learned that Accra is not at
all touristy. The top tourist sites I saw in my guidebook were pretty
awful. So, there’s that. Tomorrow we’re going to see some waterfalls
and, apparently, a rock shaped like an umbrella and a palm tree that
either has 3 trunks or 3 heads (opinions vary). Either way, I hope
they have t-shirts.
I’ve attached (hopefully that is, I’m not on the internet yet, so, if
possible) a photo of my students when they did their speeches. They’re
in the building that, when done, will be a new classroom. They were
working on it this week so the progress is great.

Are you coming? If so, I’ve got a list of things I’d like you to
bring. If not, I’ve got a list of things I’d like you to send.
Love you! Getting on the internet now!