Amy Bell - Teaching English & Other Subjects in Ghana
I arrived at my host family's house which for the next eleven weeks was to be my home. I couldn't wait to explore where I was located. I loved the fact that there was so much to see, experience and take in. It was not long before I had settled in and had become accustomed to my host family's way of living. At first I felt a little intimidated by the society, but as I worked and lived with the locals I soon felt apart of it. I soon became a familiar face to the people on my street and was always smiled and waved at.
I never really had any pre-conceived ideas of what Ghana would be like and I don't think anyone can really fully understand unless they gain a first hand experience of the country. The more I saw of how people lived on the streets the more I began to appreciate how lucky I am to live in an economically developed country. I see it a great shame that so much of the land and natural beauties have been ruined by the corruption the country faces.
For my placement with Projects Abroad, I worked in Accra, at a school called The Street Academy. The school building was nothing more than what I would describe as either a run down village hall or a derelict barn. It was made of wood, had missing floorboards, was infested with mosquitoes and flooded when it rained. There was just one room in which the three different classes were taught.
My place of work was where most of my friendships were created. I loved the children, they were so fantastic to teach and they certainly taught me a great deal, I certainly learnt so much from them. Best of all they were themselves, sharing everything with me; their love, trust, kindness, respect and disobedience.
It was not long into my placement that I realised the more I gave the more I got back. This led me to set high goals for myself. It was certainly draining having to deal with third world obstacles and working with poor, limited resources available to me. Therefore to experience lows in such circumstances was unavoidable, but from these times of hardship I made positive progress and I was always rewarded with moments of achievement and success.
Whilst I was working at the school, I was asked to put on a drama production with members of the Street Academy. Never one to turn down a challenge, I quite literally jumped at the chance. I had a lot of work cut out for myself and it was a real struggle, but at the end of the day the children made everything worthwhile and the staff were always there to help.
When I returned home I found it fairly easy to adapt to western culture again. However, I do now have different opinions and views on certain aspects of life. What I saw and went through caused me to take a whole new outlook. After living in a Ghanaian community, I feel that our culture lacks the value of respect, generosity, hospitality, which they set the perfect example of. I also believe that we as a society could learn from the Ghanaian culture, as the majority are open, kind, giving and selfless.
My time in Ghana has most definitely been a life changing experience, one reason being that I have been given an insight into voluntary work overseas, which offers some fantastic opportunities. I am so glad to have gone through with the trip as the last three months were a huge learning curve for me and I have benefited from every experience. I will definitely be returning to Ghana in the near future, primarily to carryout more work at the school but also to travel the country a little. My friends who had time to travel said there are some great places to visit. I was also fascinated by the African dancing and would love to go back to train with the National Ghanaian Dance Ensemble.
Although the children were exhausting and my life became incredibly chaotic they always inadvertently reminded me why I was there and that I was doing the right thing. They were the ones who drove me forward and pushed me to the limit and for that I thank them for. By the end of their stay their confidence had absolutely soared and we had all come such a long way.