Friday, October 2, 2009

the new normal

The students arrive at school at least 30 minutes if not one hour early (usually before the teachers). There are children running everywhere making all sorts of noise. The school is built in such a way that all there is nothing to absorb the noise, and it seems to just reverberate through the courtyard. (It is a u-shaped complex) Each morning at 7:50 the bell ringer clangs the bell and yells "De-vo-tion Please!" and all the kids go running into their classrooms. Then commences the singing. Each class has their own separate devotion before school begins, and each sings a different set of songs. Therefore you can hear 16 different songs at one time. The walls to the classrooms are not solid, with screens for windows making up most of the side walls, therefore sound carries. It is a wonderful chaotic chorus of songs. I can't help but enjoy it. At 8:00 the bell ringer then clangs the bell again yelling "Start Classes Please!" And lessons begin (or at least they are supposed to). This is Africa, most things don't start quite on time...

It is funny how certain things become normal that were never a part of life back home. Things like chasing lizards out of my house, drinking water from a bag, walking to roadside stands to get my eggs and bread for the week, cooking everything from scratch, being called Madam or Obruni (or Sister Chelsea, as if I were a nun), waking up with the light, going to bed early (who knew I could even go to bed before 10?), not driving anywhere, washing dishes by hand, wearing skirts every day, hanging my clothes on a clothesline to dry, snapping fingers at the end of every handshake... There are so many sights and smells that are now familiar. It seems quite normal to see people carrying water, sticks, baskets of corn on their heads. It seems quite normal to see kids weeding the grass with machetes. Life has taken on a routine and feels quite normal. Being here for a longer period of time than I have previously has given me an insight into their culture in ways I never understood before. Sometime I will have to share with you all the unique and interesting things I have been learning about Ghanaian culture. But not today.

A typical day looks like the following for me:
5:30-6:30 wake up and exercise
6:30-7:30 make breakfast and prepare for day
7:30 walk to school
8:00-3:15 teaching, grading, working in the library (or trying to be otherwise helpful)
3:15-4:40 reading program MWF, tutoring on T, TH
4:40-5:00 talking and playing with kids on my way home
5:00-6:00 cooking and eating dinner
6:00 church (on Sun, Tues, Wed, Fri), house devotion on M, TH)
7:00-8:30 tutoring at a different home of children each night (reading and playing educational bingo)
8:30-9:30 talking with the high school students, reading/undwinding
around 10:00pm fall asleep exaughsted!

Life feels full. Full of challenges, full of joy, full of reading and tutoring, but full in a wonderful way.

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