I wake up this morning (Now Tuesday, the 2nd) and instantly remember about visit George Bush. I was slightly worried last night I would forget to go. As the sun is starting to illuminate the area around 5:30, I leave to fetch some water. I make it back and forth four times and I’m proud that I almost filled the entire big tub, although I was pretty tired by the end of it. My next doesn’t get tired, it’s my shoulders and arms that give out first. I’m not that good at balancing it on my head so when it shifts from side to side I have my hands there to keep it on the middle of my head. I think that’s the reason why these little girls can carry these huge jugs on their head. They have it balanced so well that the weight is distributed through their body and legs. When I try to carry it, I’m using mostly my arm muscles and after a few minutes that proves not to be a good method.
At around 07:00 I leave my house and go in the general direction I know to be where George Bush’s house. At the bottom of the hill I see a woman I know and after we greet, I ask her where I should go to get to his house. She tells me to take a path and then ask someone again. On that path I see the woman who just the other day gave me the wache and fish. She tells a small boy to lead me and show me exactly where his house is. I follow him further up the hill and greet all the groups of people we pass. The area is getting more and more bushy as we get to the top of the hill. Then, just before we reach the dense forest, we enter the gate of a large compound. I greet the people on the inside and the boy literally walks me up to the exact room and even goes inside and gets Bush, as he’s called.
I can hear Bush in his room saying in exasperation “Akwesi?” I can tell he’s surprised that I showed up this morning. Bush comes out and greets me and laughs and does his normal “kweeeessiiii,” as he chuckles. He takes me around the compound and introduces me to his entire family. I even meet his Grandmother, whom I’ve heard so much about. Every time Bush tells me about a lesson of loving people or respecting people he tells me he got it from her. Then he invites me to sit and wait in a chair in his room. He tells me to greet the person on the bed and they look like their asleep and only partially clothed. I’m not sure if he said it was his sister or not so I try not to look in case she’s not fully dressed. Not that the people here have any shame in being naked considering how may children run around naked and women breast feed in the middle of a conversation. The person gets out of bed and I realize that it’s Bush’s brother, Owusu Ansah. I met him a long time ago when I tried to teach that one woman’s child at the primary in Antoa. I knew from talking to him at Andrew’s store that he was Bush’s brother, but I didn’t know they lived in the same room. After about 20 minutes of idle chatter, Bush is ready to go and we head around the compound to tell everyone so. I meet his mother and then we acknowledge everyone as we are leaving. That’s one thing I’m still not used to about this culture. At home if you greet someone when you went somewhere, I would just leave after and not think about telling them I’m going except if they were my friends or it was some kind of event. Here, even if you just met the person, if you are in the area for a little while and then leave, you must tell everyone that you are taking your leave. I take Bush’s bag and it is pretty heavy. It just confirms my suspicion that he would struggle to take this to his work on his own. We start out on the walk at his pace. I stay behind him to let him keep the pace and show me which path is best for him. The ground is so uneven here that he really needs to pick his path carefully or he could take a big spill. We talk about several different things on the way down the hill to the street. I always enjoy our conversations because there never is anything unnecessary said. He never gossips or talks just to talk. If we have nothing to say then that’s how it is, but when we talk it’s always something interesting. We get to the bottom of the hill and join the street. Many people we are passing are either greeting Bush or me. Then we get to his shop and get everything inside set up. He tells me that everyone was asking him why the white man was walking with him this morning. They asked if I was his friend for the day. Bush said he agreed, but when he say them later he would correct them and say I’m his brother. I tell him it’s time for me to go to work and I leave his shop to let him get to his.
I go back home and get things ready for the test with Wonoo. On my way out of town I greet the normal people and when I stop at the printing shop I find out that her copier isn’t working so to print will be 1 cedi per page, which is absolutely absurd. I like them, but not enough to spend the Expo money in that kind of way. Half expecting this I wrote down the test in my notebook so that was I would have the questions to write on the board. Soon after I get in my usual waiting spot under the shade of the big tree in front of the SHS, a Tro Tro comes by heading for Wonoo. This is pretty good timing and I end up getting into town way ahead of schedule. I have some food in my bag from breakfast still, so I only search for some bananas to add. I get the usual snacks and waters and head over to the school. This is their test week, so the school is much quieter than usual and the students already have their desks spread out to prevent them from cheating. This is very helpful, but I fear that they are too young to have tests all day and then to add another hour for the expo test might be a recipe for trouble. The time passes quickly and they are released from school. We get into the class room and I have the tutors hand out the snack and waters as I write the questions of the test up on the board. They’re a little rowdy, but it seems like they will quite down when we actually start. The past two tests they were the same way where they were rowdy in the beginning, but then relaxed when I said to be quiet for the test. The test starts and they don’t seem to be quieting down. The tutors and I are yelling over them and trying to keep them quiet, but my fear is coming true. The timing is just awful with having the Expo test during their examination week. We do our best to make sure they don’t cheat and then close for the day.
From Wonoo, I leave immediately to head to Kenyasi to print out the certificates for tomorrow’s ceremony. I need to head there to get it printed on special paper and because there’s really no where else to get anything printed in Antoa. The Tro Tro I get from Wonoo is luckly going straight to Kumasi, which goes right through Kenyasi. I drop off in Keyasi and quickly find a few print shops. I ask the woman at the first one if she has special paper to print on. She gives me a black stare and shakes her head. Her friend, who own the other print shop, comes in and confirms that special paper doesn’t even exist in their worlds. I print the awards and everything else I needed and leave the shop to get back to Antoa before sunset. The road from Abrim to Antoa is not safe at night and is where there have been a few armed robberies. I find a car and make it back to Antoa easily before the end of the day.
At home, I set up a table in my compound to begin grading the papers. After an hour or so I finish grading and enter the information into my computer. There is a tracker in the excel document that marks whether the students have improved and by how much. All of the students improved in both Maths and English except for one girl who did worse in English. I think she is an outlier though because she’s the only one who didn’t even try the English section. I’m very impressed with how much everyone improved. Some improved 200 or 300%. The most improved for math can’t even be measure by a percentage increase because he did so bad in the beginning. In the pretest he got a 0% on the math section. I think I mentioned this students before, in my blog. He’s the one who is 18 and was very quiet in class. Well on the final test he got a 50% on the math section. He’s certainly still far away from studying at Oxford, but a 50% increase is pretty good in my book. My biggest goal is to get them to pass their BECE exam to get to High School and hopefully instill a long lasting motivation to continue their education as far as they possibly can.