Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fun with Balloons

We had a lot of Danish visitors this summer – volunteers for the Youth Center who wanted to stop by Titagya. One of my favorite memories of the summer was thanks to a bag of balloons that one such visitor brought for the kids. I don’t know if the kids had ever seen balloons before, but they were a huge hit. It was a Friday, so class only lasted from 8-9 a.m. and the students got to play outside until noon. The hype and excitement over the balloons lasted them at least a good half hour (which in kid time seems like an eternity). They even abandoned their precious soccer balls to chase around the balloons!

Due to the wind, most of the balloons ended up flying over the fence surrounding the school, so it would be a mad rush to see who could get to them first. A lot of other women and children walking by thus stopped and watched the whole balloon commotion. I’m sure it was quite a sight for everyone!

Granted, a lot of the balloons popped pretty quickly since it is mostly dirt outside the classrooms, but it was so funny to hear the shrieks of happiness every time a balloon popped. I thought the younger students especially might be a bit frightened at the loud noise, but their faces only expressed the purest glee you could possibly imagine. It was truly amazing to witness how just a simple balloon could bring so much joy, laughter, and smiles to young children.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Summer with Titagya

Hello, everyone! My name is Clara Kang, and I am a rising senior at Haverford College. Thanks to the generous funding from my school’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, I have had the opportunity of a lifetime to intern at Titagya Schools this summer. I spent the past two months in Dalun, and it has been such an incredible journey. I have always had a passion for teaching and for children, and this summer I was able to gain invaluable experience in the classroom. It wasn't always easy trying to teach a classroom full of excited 4-5 year olds that don’t know much English, but this challenge is what made it all so worthwhile. One crucial lesson I learned: patience and perseverance are without a doubt two of the most important attributes in any teacher’s tool belt.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to take over one of the teacher’s classes for the entire week, as he was away attending a workshop. I had previously only taken over a class session here and there, and even that was difficult, as the children weren’t used to me or my teaching style and didn’t respond to me in quite the same way as they did the other teachers. In any case, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life – those were five long days. That week, I was teaching them two-letter words like it, as, if, so, go, to, no…etc. To make matters more difficult, I had to do it entirely in English, whereas the other teachers infused Dagbani (the local language) with their teaching so the young students would understand better.

It was never so bad during the first class session, but by the time 10 a.m. rolled around, many of the kids grew rather restless and rowdy. It was always a struggle trying to keep their attention on the blackboard, to get everyone to respond and repeat the words after me or the student leading the class. It was even harder to try and discipline the students in English, for they couldn’t understand what I was saying, and would just giggle.

At the end of the week, the other teachers commented that it seemed as though the students had finally gotten used to my teaching style, especially to my teaching only in English. I was too busy trying to manage the class that I guess I never noticed it, but I realized they were right. In the end, the students actually learned, and they learned a lot. I taught them almost 20 new two-letter words that the students could identify, spell, and read. When on Friday the students read simple sentences like: “So he is to go” and “I am in it,” I was so, so proud of how far they had come.

In the end, it was a long week, but it was one of the most rewarding weeks I’ve ever had, and it was a week that reminded me exactly why I’m here and why I enjoy doing what I’m doing. Here are some pictures of my time in the classroom: