A Bad Tutor in the Bunch and My Last Walk to Wonoo

Today is starting off slow, as usual. I’m sitting there quietly taping my keyboard as the sun is rising and the roosters are tirelessly calling to wake the town. I have to say the mornings are good competitors for the best part of my day. My love for the morning started when I lived at a house called Bonita. There was nothing Spanish about it and it was the exact opposite of beautiful. I lived with six roommates, three of which knew just about everyone at school, it seemed. That meant that there was something going on every single night; whether it be a party or fraternity event. However, that also meant that the mornings were desolate, until about 11:00 AM, when it all started again. Those mornings got me through the craziness of that house and stuck with me through my last year of college. Now, it is just part of my routine to wake up with the sun and enjoy the peaceful morning. That is one way that I fit in with this small town life so well.

 Even with the slow pace of the morning, it seems to go by in a flash as I find the time being 09:30. I have to run a few errands and greet people on my way to Wonoo, so I leave just before 10:00 to make sure I don’t have to rush. My first stop is to visit George Bush micro finance man. I really enjoy visiting him every morning because I can get my money broken down into smaller bills and have a good conversation. Today he seems especially lively. I get the money for the tutors broken down in case any of them are late today and I have to pay them less. I bring up that I met his brother, Owusu Ansah, the other day. I actually met Owusu when I was attempting to teach the primary child, but I never knew they were related until I spoke with Owusu again the other day. George Bush laughed and said that Owusu told him about the meeting. He told me that Owusu is the the fourth born child of six children. Four of them are male and two are female. I tell him that it’s time for me to go and he asks me how I get to Wonoo. I tell him that I walk. His tone immediately changes to make sure I know that he is not joking, in the least. He tells me that it is a very bad idea to walk along that road to Wonoo. A few other people have told me this, but I didn’t know them and I thought they were just over exaggerating. After all, my experiences were showing me that the people were very nice and caring. When George Bush tells me this, it strikes a chord in me. He said there are even people around Antoa who hate him because they seem him traveling to work everyday. He said the affect will only be magnified with me and walking in between towns along the road that goes through the bush is where it becomes unsafe. He closed the conversation and told me that his grandma taught him to love everyone and he said that he loved me and wanted to protect me. He told me that anytime he sees me with someone, he will pull me aside and tell me that they are a good person or that I should be carful because they are a bad person.

 I leave his office for Wonoo feeling a bit frustrated. I’m torn because I love this walk and the people along the way so much that I don’t want to give it up. However, I see his point and it is very poignantly affecting my decision because I trust him. I agree that I will walk today and figure out something different in the future. I greet my normal people on the way out of town, but can’t really invest myself in the conversation because I can’t stop thinking about the predicament. I pass through Adesena and almost get to Krobo before I meet someone on the street. With George Bush’s warning in the back of my head I can’t help but think that this guy is a criminal. He asks how I am with a big smile on his face. I tell him I have to go and just continue down the road. Now I’m in Krobo and as I near the edge of town by the road through the bush, I decide to not even walk today. I sit down in the shade and wait for a Tro Tro to pass. I’m sitting there for 20 minutes and people from the town are coming up to me to find out what I’m doing. Afer 30-minutes, a Tro Tro finally passes and I wave them down. They pass me without hesitation and I try to get a look in the window as they pass. It is packed with a bunch of elders all dressed in black. After another 20 minutes of waiting I decide to walk. A couple hundred feet down the road I hear a big vehicle that sounds like a Tro Tro. I turn around and it looks different, but I can’t quite tell. I check a few more times and finally realize it’s not the vehicle I’m hoping for. It comes to a stop next to me and the driver asks where I’m going. He tells me to get in and he will take me. I get a ride to Ohojo, the next town. I greet my normal people in that town, but again it just isn’t the same. I try to fight my distraction and enjoy potentially my last time visiting this sleepy town.

 I get to Wonoo with nothing more than the normal sincerity from everyone I pass. The program today went very well. Other than three of the students leaving early, I thought it was the best session yet. Isaac Darko’s group was very rowdy at the end as the girls fought over the marker to answer the question on the board. After the meeting at the end with the tutors, I give them their pay. Logical throws down his money in front of me and tells me that he doesn’t even want it and storms out of the room. I close the session and tell the other two tutors that I’m still in the process of finding a third to replace Logical. As I near the edge of town Logical approaches me and asks for his money. I can’t deny him the money since he put in the time, so I gave him his pay. However, I can cut him from the program and any future pay. He is very defiant and stubborn with his opinions of how he is being treated. As we speak he is very timid. He never looks me in the eye the entire time we talk. He doesn’t have a strong argument so he spreads them out over a few points, trying to get out of being penalized for his tardiness. He says that we should meet at the Primary instead of the JHS. I tell him that I want to meet at the JHS to take attendance and give the students their waters and snacks so they can eat and stretch their legs as they walk. Then, when they get to the primary they will all be ready to learn for another hour. I also don’t want the students to walk over to the primary on their own because it will be easier for them to leave. He says that I can just report their names to the school and they will be punished. Well, I want to avoid them getting beaten and if we just head over to the other school 10 minutes earlier we can try to avoid that whole situation. Then he says that we don’t start until 14:30 and end until 15:30, which is 30 minutes past their regular closing time. That’s the one point I agree with him on, but if all the tutors met on time at the JHS, then we could get the attendance done faster and have the students moving quicker over to the primary. I’ve dealt with enough BSers to sniff this one out. He’s just angry because I’m very punctual with time and that’s not what he’s used to or compliant with. He’s also the only one complaining about the timing from any of the other tutors or students. As we keep wrapping back around to the same arguments the Headmaster and another Master at Wonoo come up to us. They ask us about the situation and Logical describes the whole thing to them in Twi. Now he’s manipulating the Master’s opinions in a code that I can’t understand. I do very well to stay completely calm and after they translate the same exact argument to me, I tell them my side. This whole situation makes me feel very uncomfortable because it makes me feel like were in some kind of mediation. We end the conversation with the Headmasters suggesting that they will let out the students 10 minutes early for them to meet us at the primary at 14:00. That still totally misses the point of the students getting time to enjoy their snacks. I certainly can’t tell them that my plan also involves getting the students out of a beating because that is written into their culture and they see that as something that is completely normal and actually expected. Then they start to joke that he thinks he can be late because he is such a great tutor. Forcing a smile I agree that might be a reason. Then I drill back down on the point that he still has missed an entire week and been late every time except for two sessions. I could feel that at the end of our talk that the Masters were starting to side with Logical and there was nothing else to say at that point. I can only come at an argument in so many different directions when the opposition just repeats the same thing over and over again. Before we leave, I reinforce to everyone there that I still want the Masters to search for a new tutor and if Logical is late once more then I am kicking him out of the program. It’s starting to rain so they tell me to come back to town with them. I have a rain jacket, so I tell them that I’m going to start to walk back. Thinking I’m a bit crazy they leave me for shelter. I think the safest time to walk is through the rain anyway. No one in Ghana does anything when it rains; even the criminals are hiding inside somewhere. A decommissioned Tro Tro comes up stops next to me. They ask where I’m going and tell me to hop in. I tell them I’m going to Antoa and he says a bunch of rapid fire Twi and ends with the word Krobo. I could just tell by instinct that he said they were only going to Krobo and turning in the other direction. Almost without hesitation I say in Twi that Krobo is fine.

 I ask to be let out at the end of town so that way I can greet all the people as I make my way back home. I get back and get settled in my room. I take some time to pull the positives out of everything that happened today. As for the walk I’ve had some time to think about the whole situation and I really agree with George Bush. My safety takes priority over anything else. If it means that I will have to miss out on talking with some people, then that’s the way it will have to be. It would hurt much more than the wounds anyone could inflict knowing that because of my selfish and unsafe decision took away from my programs. I’m here to help these students get their education and I’ll do everything in my means to accomplish my mission. I really also think this whole thing is a blessing. Thinking back to that situation where I wanted to teach that primary school student and Daniel told me that I can spread myself to thin if I want to accomplish my main mission with a high quality. Well I see that applying to my situation walking. I want to walk through these various towns and meet all of these people I’m giving up time that I could be spending with the people in Antoa. Instead of spending those hours walking, I could spend it waiting for the Tro Tro in town and sitting with a new group of people everyday. After all, I’m closer to these people and have more access if they need help from me or vise versa. It might be a little more money to take the Tro Tro every time I travel to and from Wonoo, but I know it will be a much better decision for my health and the people that I live with everyday. I’m wrapping up this blog post now after I’ve had time to sleep on the whole issue. Or as they say in Ghana I’ve had time for my pillow to speak to me. I can honestly say that I’m very happy about the whole change of my situation and I’m excited to fortify my relationships with the people of Antoa. As for Logical, I will continue to look for additional tutors to replace him. Only time will be able to solve that problem at this point.

 Tomorrow is an interesting day because it is the first Thursday in awhile that I don’t have to travel to Kentinkrono in the morning and hurry back for a meeting with the SHS. I want to use my day tomorrow productively and creatively. I suppose we’ll have to wait to see what I get myself into.

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