Saturday, August 28, 2010

Making Books in Ho

Our wonderful summer volunteer Beverly Baller has done it again! Round two of the 2010 Summer bookmaking project near the village of Ho in the Volta region of Ghana has exceeded all expectations.

Beverly writes, "The book club celebration was truly amazing! In addition to the kids, some parents, and staff members; a bunch of district level supervisors, local Ghanaian army members, and even a pastor. All said, there were many speeches and the local people are so excited to be the newest school in Ghana entering this partnership. They want to become a model school and share the knowledge with schools in other nearby townships. Most importantly, they were impressed by the kids books and are eager to support the continuation of the project on a year round basis; ISABT is psyched today!

It was also just plain fun. It makes all the hard work over the course of the week worth it. Book making is tough, tiring, and challenging. The week starts off mellow, crescendos around Thursday when the finished product is uploaded to the computer, and finally printed into hard copy form for distribution. Speaking of distribution, would you even believe one of the administrators visiting from the district bought, yes paid for, two of the books. A local military policeman got Quame’s phone number and wants us to visit his hometown to “teach him to read and write.” Even though I only had a week with them and felt like I barely even had a chance to connect with them, the kids let out a huge cheer when my presence was announced in the opening introductions. I almost shed a tear on the spot: they must have actually really enjoyed the program! Maybe they even like me too. Either way, it was one of those touching moments that a teacher never forgets. Just to make sure of it, they presented me with a one-of-a-kind Kente cloth inscribed with my name and the words thank you written in Ewe. Unbelievable, once in a lifetime experience; of course I suspect that the extended members of the Ho crew had that one arranged for me and Quame specially. They really know how to make a Yevu (foreign) lady feel comfortable and welcome!"

Working in schools in Ghana is not only great for the students and teachers but it is just as rewarding for our volunteers. As Beverly puts it,"Being out here is really improving my teaching skills, I feel like I have a better sense of how to reach more kids, and I also am becoming more comfortable in my own skin. At first it was awkward, teaching general education literacy, being so far outside my background and realm of experience; but I find that instructional styles and strategies transcend style and subject matter. I am really getting the hang of it and realizing that I have more flexibility and abilities in education than I ever realized."

This experience has been rewarding on both a professional level and on a personal one, "the guys here in Ghana (Quame, Wisdom, George, Nii, Yaw, Jon, Prosper, and Joe) are restoring not just my faith in men, but in people period. They are all so nice it’s almost ridiculous. I have to watch my American tendencies to refuse generous offers because they genuinely wish to do it for no reason at all other than the fact that they are just damn good people. How many of us are that real and selfless? No offense to those of you reading this from back home, but I think most of us have some work to do in that department, myself included."

Congratulations to Beverly on another splendid project!
Mudo! (Ewe for thank you)

You can read the new stories written in the Volta here

1 comment:

pthurst said...

Congratulations on a exciting and invaluable contribution to mankind.