More Alike Than Different

My first trip to Ghana taught me that we are all more alike than different. The main priority my teacher partner and I had was to show the students that we were quite similar- we were all young people (for the most part in high school) and we all wanted to make a difference in some way or another in the world. Tres (who was my teaching partner from GLA) and I spent at a lot of our classes immersed in round table discussions about different issues we faced in our own communities and how exactly we could solve them. Upon my return home and the start of R.O.C. my main goal was to help show high school students that we have a lot in common, and that just because the color of our skin or the country that we come from, or what our parents did for work (or not) should not limit our opportunities as students. The goal was to break cultural divides and allow people to make friends with and learn about someone else’s culture and community, whether you are a white suburban teenager living in South Burlington, VT,  a Burundian teenager who had been resettled to Burlington, VT after years in exile, or a student in the Senior High School in Ghana. We realized that everyone does have different backgrounds, but that difference is a great place to start learning and growing from each other’s experiences.  I urge young people everywhere to keep on working towards the goal of equality and to check yourself if you find yourself scared, or pointing unkind fingers at other people who are our peers, our friends, and our community members.

Finally getting connection with SB R.O.C.going through introductions and asking about what we all do for fun.

Finally getting connection with SB R.O.C.going through introductions and asking about what we all do for fun.

Wednesday was the first day of our official R.O.C. International video call day with the South Burlington R.O.C. chapter. The class we had in Ghana was here at VEG and it was a small group of students. This group was part of the Lady Volta Vocational School, the women (and two men) were older who are not in high school anymore, but are between 20-26 years old. This is the oldest group of students we are working with here in Ghana. Suffice it to say, after about 40 minutes of technical difficulties, (the SB R.O.C.  leader and I were both texting each other that we were each having problems with the HDMI cord to connect to their project in school and Kofi and I were laughing because we were having the exact same problem.) Kofi and I told the students “See it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can still have technical difficulties.  They are having the same problems there as we are having here. ”

New R.O.C. stickers!

New R.O.C. stickers!

Trying to get everyone in the computer screen-showing our R.O.C. stickers here in Ghana as SB students show theirs in VT

Trying to get everyone in the computer screen-showing our R.O.C. stickers here in Ghana as SB students show theirs in VT

We finally connected with SB R.O.C. through improvising and using a student’s phone in Vermont. The connection was weak, but we finally got it! Students in America were actually talking to students in Ghana. Although we weren’t able to talk for long, we did some introductions. Then the R.O.C. students asked us “what does everyone do for fun?” Some of the girls here said singing and dancing. It turns out that two of the SB R.O.C. leaders are big time dancers themselves. One of the girls in Vermont said she runs for fun. Anita is in the class at VEG and she I started laughing since we have been running together the past couple of days. Although this was a short interaction, we showed students everywhere that we are more alike than different. Young adults in Ghana have made their first friends in Vermont, and vice versa. Our next video call will be with the Mount Mansfield Union High School R.O.C. chapter on Saturday with our students at MadamFo Ghana.

Yesterday was a more laid back kind of day.  I was recovering from some food poisoning (not a good idea to eat “sweet water-rice” with non-bottled water from my kind neighbor who offered it). The only class we had was at MadamFo Ghana in the evening. Kofi and I went around 6:30 and we talked about relationships. Kofi did most of the talking. He was able to answer the student’s questions that we had come up with the Saturday before.  He encouraged everyone to speak up and ask new questions on their own. It was a very productive class which was fantastic. One of the house mothers came in at the end of our talk and made a quick presentation in front of the class saying that she expected everyone to be engaged moving forward, and that she will be checking everyone’s notebooks to make sure they are remembering things. I think she scared everyone into submission :)  Hopefully, they stay as engaged for my class with them on Saturday! I know they are looking forward to talking with our friends at MMU R.O.C.!

I am learning more every day that I am here. The country is wonderful and the people are kind and beautiful. Two weeks down seven more to go.

Natalie

P.S. Everyone needs to check out this video done by our CVU R.O.C. members about our refugee community here in Vermont (who are all now U.S. citizens). The video was put together by Charlie Bernicke, Cole Bartlett, and Kiera O’Brien.