This morning I woke up extremely tired. It was a different tired than the exhaustion that I had been feeling – my body was finally telling me that yes, we do need sleep! I don’t care when go to bed anymore, as long as we do, I’ll be happy! I think jet lag may finally be wearing off!
After breakfast, Lesley and I headed to the school to go through all of our supplies, sort through things, and start to set up somewhat for tomorrow. It was exciting seeing things actually happening, of toys being rolled out of bags and new pencils and crayons and paper pads for the kids to draw on. One of the kids of the workers tagged alongside us, and played with a lot of the toys we had. It was amazing to see his wonder at the simple toys that we take for granted – yoyos and noise makers for example. I’m sure he’s never laid eyes on toys like that before, and his pure joy that shone was amazing to see.
As we were going through the curriculum, it was beginning to hit us how much we would have to adjust how and what we teach – so many of our North American traditions and books can’t be used in the same way. For example, one worksheet was about Dads, and said simply how some of the reasons they love their dads is because they buy them new shoes and take them out for ice cream. Well here there are kids who don’t even own shoes, nor ever have the luxury of having ice cream. It’s these little realizations that really make you think about your own culture and the things we so easily take for granted back at home. I’ve really wrestled with that a lot – because if I’m being completely honest, I love the fact that I always having running hot water and that I have more than one pair of shoes and that my shelves at home are filled with books I so love. And with that realization comes a feeling of guilt, because shouldn’t I live my life so freely without attachments to things like that? It’s interesting, being here, I feel as if my mind doesn’t stop thinking and wrestling with my ideas of self, of culture, of what makes me me. I think that that is why culture shock is such a struggle, because it strips away things that make up our self. And that is terrifying!
While we were at the school, we had a lovely surprise – two women stopped by the school from a neighbouring town, and one of them was from Switzerland! She was probably around my age, and she is going to be here until December. She’s staying at a local’s house (the woman who was with her) and volunteering at a hospital. We exchanged numbers and she is hoping to come by and pick Lesley and I up to come to their house for a visit. It’s so nice to meet other visitors who are in the same boat as me!
After lunch, we headed to the Asamankese market again to buy a few things we were looking for at the school. I bought a few things to send home for birthdays coming up, but completely forgot to stop by the post office for stamps! Lesley and I also chose fabrics for our traditional African dresses that we had measurements for last night! I’m so excited to see how they will turn out. Today we walked to the market instead of taking a taxi like before, and all the way there we heard, ‘Obruni! Obruni!’ and kids would run from their homes to point and wave to us. I had one guy laugh at me and tell me I looked funny, which was a very interesting experience! I was walking with Belinda’s cousin, a little girl of probably about five, who held my hand wherever we went. One lady asked me if she was my daughter (although i didn’t know what she was asking me until Belinda translated) and then burst out laughing as if it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen. I guess it makes sense, they most likely have never seen a black family adopting a white child, whereas back home the idea of interracial adoptions is completely normal.
The late afternoon consisted of a nap, followed by supper and a broken up phone call from Mom. Technology is so frustrating when you are a world away from home!
Oh and exciting news – today at lunch we had a traditional Ghanian lunch (Belinda has been making us more normal foods for our sensitive Canadian stomachs!) of a plaintain in sort of a dough-y mixture, and then spicy tomato and beans. They were delicious!
Homesickness and culture shock are still a big struggle, but all I can do is take it one day at a time. For whatever reason, I am here today, and there is a quote on the wall from one of the past interns that says, “The place you are in needs you today.” It is so very true, no matter if I am here in Africa or at home. Today, for whatever reason I was here – be it to hold little Stephanie’s hand through the market, or to provide for the taxi driver the small fare he asked for, or to give the little boy at the school the opportunity to play with his first toys. My prayer tonight is for all of you to remember that – where you are needs you today. You are where you are for a purpose, always, even if it’s hard to see that.
Lots of love,