Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ghanaian Curves

This newest blog has been a long time coming because we started school and it seems to have thrown us a few curves. The title, Ghanaian Curves though has more then one meaning.

I have discovered that in Ghana, life moves in curves and circles as opposed to straight lines. All of the roads curve here in Accra. The main city road is called the ring road and is a semicircle off of which thousands of smaller roads circle off and around it. To find your way, you must rely on landmarks as the road names carry no weight or meaning for anyone here. I have often gotten lost walking because I think I am on a straight road, but when I come out I seem to be in the opposite direction of where I thought I should be. Rarely does one road lead to the road you think it will lead to. Always the road eventually leads to a familiar sight, a sigh of relief and pride that you have found your way. Along the path, there are times when I feel lost and fearful of whether or not I will find my way. I have learned to trust though that every road eventually gets you where you need to go and will invariably be an interesting journey even if at times very challenging.

Perhaps you see where my metaphor is leading……….
Our issues with school are still not resolved. In particular, Riley simply does not fit into the school system here. The other kids are challenged in their new school, Merton International, but able to cope and even learn. Riley however hit a wall last week; he says the classroom here is like a prison for him. There was nothing I could do for him as he sobbed and sobbed, I had no choice but to bring him home with me and try to decide what to do. The problem is, I am deeply ensconced in my own teaching commitments at Merton now and unable to simply be at home with Riley, plus I believe I would have a mutiny on my hands if he was given the choice not to go to school, while the others each had to continue. Terry and I have weighed all options such as putting the kids back at Scholars (the school where they went temporarily for 2 weeks), however we have spent money on Merton, I have students enjoying my classes and looking forward to their final projects, and Josephine is thriving at this school. We discussed putting only Riley in Scholars, but a big part of his issue is “separation anxiety” and he does not want to be alone at Scholars. In some ways it seems as though Riley has Terry and I wrapped around his finger as we try to do what’s best and make him happy. We worry that we are not being firm enough with him in our decision making. We need to be the parents and make a choice we can stick to in order to give him some security instead of always looking for his input into what is best for him. It is impossible though when you have a boy who is desperately unhappy in school and saying to me, “Mom if you gave me the choice between killing myself and going to school, I would rather kill myself”. This is a difficult statement to brush off. He said it sincerely and I realized that this was not just an issue of bad or spoiled behavior. Riley is miserable in school and becoming miserable in Ghana. I have not been able to get help from his teachers and we need to make some changes as soon as possible.

I was originally going to title this blog entry, “Some Things Are Meant To Be”. After our ordeal trying to find a school, we felt that Merton was finally the perfect fit simply waiting for us: after endless research into many schools here in Accra, we knew the kids would get the best education we could find at Merton and in order to help pay for it, the administration was excited to have me teach Drama at the school. It felt like it was meant to be in every way, especially when I realized that I would be working with grade 10 Literature students on Much Ado About Nothing. Like everything else though in Ghana, this road is curving, taking us in the opposite direction. I feel completely lost……and a little bit afraid for myself and Riley. At this point in time, Terry and I don’t know where this road will lead. I have to trust though that I will find a familiar landmark eventually….. hopefully soon.

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