Last Week’s Catch Up Story

I’ll continue here from where I left off on the last blog post and this time I’ll actually finish the story through the week like I said I would. On Monday, Jan 27th, I have my Krobo program. The tutors did well, except all of them, not counting Charles, taught topics that are too advanced. I specifically told them to slow down and make sure the students master the basics before they move on. I don’t see any purpose in teaching them order of operations if they don’t know how to solve one step because they don’t know how to add fractions with different denominators. Also, Charles gave rules for multiplying negative numbers that only applies when two numbers are involved and it contradicted with there are more. Patrick did well with giving them homework from my suggestion last week. Kwame had his whole group come to the board and work out examples. Obed did a much better job from last week with handling the snacks and rewards. Finally, Charles did well having the students explain their answers using English. The girls in his group really struggle when they are explaining simple addition. After the program ended I met with them and gave them these positives and negatives I noticed and gave them homework to prepare a progress quiz on Thursday.

 Later in the day I get back home and pull out the left of Jack Fruit that I put in the fridge. I take it over to enjoy with Asamoah. When I get there, one of the younger pineapple ladies is there, so I invite her as well. She gives me a strange look and some nervous laughs before we convince her to try this new fruit that looks like an alien. After she tries it, she comes back for more and even collects the seeds afterward so that she can dry and plant them on their pineapple farm.

 On Tuesday, I went to Wonoo with Grace and showed her all she needs to know from me in order to take over my program. This term, I will be only running one program in Krobo so that I can focus on making sure all the expo programs succeed and a few other side projects are successful. My time is being shifted from everyday operations to more on the planning and leadership side and I’m more than happy that I’m headed in this direction.

 We get quick transportation there and I remind Grace that won’t be a usual occurrence. Once at the school, the teachers are at a meeting, so the students are roaming about, oddly the same situation when I first met with them last term. They are very excited to see a new Obroni and they are just as aggressive as when I visited them for the first time last term. They are up in our faces, asking all kinds of questions and making observations about each of us. They’re used to me so most of the observations are about Grace. I can sense that Grace is very uncomfortable with it all. She even stops acknowledging that they are their and she starts to grade papers as if we’re totally alone. I suggest that we go into the staff room and it seems to be successful, as the students don’t follow us in the room. In there, Grace asks me if they’re always this aggressive. She also tells me that they shouldn’t be allowed to talk to us in that way. I can see her point, but I disagree. While some of their observations could be considered as rude, they also made many positive comments. I think they were just genuinely interested in finding out about “the white people”. In no way did it ever cross my mind that they were being intentionally disrespectful. She finished the discussion saying that, “she will be like Hitler compared to me.” I suppose everyone has their own ways of dealing with things and it won’t affect the expo programs, so I don’t say much.

 The session is normal and we walk along the road to find a car home. Sometimes I can wait for an hour or longer to get a tro tro home. Today, one of my friends from Antoa, who drives a school bus, comes by right when we get to the road and he gives us all a ride home. Once we get home, Grace and I leave to fetch water. I’m still using the big bucket and I can make it about four times before I get too tired. I’m also still practicing with balancing it on my head with no hands, when it’s empty of course. I can easily carry it the whole way now. The first time when I carry the full bucket back, I’m still getting my muscles loose. Then, once I pour the first bucket and walk back with it on my head it feels like the top of my head is numb or that there is no bucket there at all. At first I thought it was falling, but now I’m used to the strange feeling. It’s also much easier to balance because the heavy bucket squishes the wrap down very flat on my head. Actually, the “buckets” I carry are called a rubber by the local people. A bucket is a very specific thing. And bucket in Twi is pronounced boogity. Bush’s family and I have an inside joke that whenever we see each other, we say “boogity boogity boogity”. In face we make all kinds of weird noises and interpretations of Twi words. It’s almost like I’m back home with my friends again, making up the same silly words and strange sounds.

 The day ends and I decide to push my sleep/wake up time 30 minutes earlier to fall right on the hour. I don’t know why, but I’m enjoying the mornings and disliking the nights more and more.

 On Wednesday, I have Grace leave for Wonoo on her own to Officially make the program hers. My morning is the same with visiting Bush and then going to my Ghanaian Grand Parents, Nana Mary and Nana Kofi. After I get home, I update some Expo stuff online for accounting purposes. The time flies and at 15:00 I leave to visit my friends around town and end up going to Andrews place to share some mashed Kenakay. First, I have to walk around town and find all of the ingredients.

 Not far into my walk, an elderly lady stops me and we chat for a bit. I’m able to hand with her using the Twi and not much is lost in translation. After about 30 minutes of talking she takes my number and I continue through town. When I get to my good friends Akosua Margarette and her husband, they apologize for not having any bananas and I tell them it’s no problem. Not listening to me, Akos goes and gets me a papaya from in her house. From there I get some banana and go to greet Charles’ grandfather. Lastly, I head to Andrews with the banana and ground nut to mix into the meal. I rell him I want to continue my “research” and try the kenkay without any sugar or biscuits to make it taste sweeter. He calls anything that I learn or do in Ghana for the first time as part of my research and a big reason why I’m here.

 After we mix the kenkay, I offer the banana and ground nut to add. He tells me “no, we have to try it alone to really do the research.” I figure, why not? I’m only in Ghana once, so I want to make the most of it. After the first spoon full the sour taste immediately overwhelms my taste buds. Even with it so sour, it’s quite enjoyable and ridiculously cheap with out all the flavoring additions. I leave his place as he’s cleaning the dish and head over to the pineapple ladies to greet them and no inclination to buy anything this time. Then they tell me they have a giant pineapple that is only one cedi. Normally, one this size would be 2 or 3 cedis. They point to a bruised side and explain why the price is so low. The mark is small, but I can’t tell if that’s just the tip of the iceberg of spoilage. I tell them I’ll buy it for 50 peswas and most of them burst out laughing. The one negotiation the price doesn’t brake her hard character. I didn’t mean for it to be a joke, but I go with it to see if I can get some more laughs. I tell them, “wo abroobay yare,” meaning you’re pineapple is sick. After a few more back and forths and some more laughs, neither of us budge from out price, so I leave. I ask Andrews if I made a good decision and if the pineapple is a good price. He quickly fires back that it will be a part of my research to see if pineapples that look like that are sweat. I laugh and without responding to him I head back to the women to buy the pineapple. After having battled over the price and now coming back, I have a guilty smile on my face. They immediately notice the expression and start laughing. I get to them and stop, without saying anything, looking away from them down the street. I figure I’ve lost all leverage to negotiate after leaving and coming back, so I want to get one more laugh. After a few seconds, I turn to them and say, “alright alright, I’ll buy it for 40 peswas.” My mission is accomplished. I end up giving them the 1 Cedi and going back to Andrews shop to continue the research.

 After relaxing and talking for a bit, we cut open the pineapple. Andrews and the ladies are right, this is one of the sweetest pineapples I’ve have in awhile. I’d say it’s in the top three best I’ve had since being here. From there, I leave for home and the night goes routinely with some water fetching and then sleep.

 I want to catch the blog up, so I’ll just cover the rest of this week quickly. Thursday I went to my program and the tutors all did well and tested their students. On Friday, I got sick and threw up a few times during the night. Saturday, I ran all day and it continued through Sunday. I’ll continue on Monday where I left off on the next post.

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