Lydia Carter, an education graduate from Lee University said, “If teachers were to go on strike within the states I would not want to take part in it. You don’t go into the fields of teaching because of the money.”
In fact, in January Carter, along with three other student teachers from Lee University, resided for two months in Ghana, teaching at DonBosco Catholic Boys School.
“At Yates (Elementary School), my previous student teaching job in Cleveland, I had 21 students,” Carter said. “At DonBosco I had 55 male students.”
At DonBosco the genders and schools are separated but within the same compound. There’s DonBosco Catholic School for Girls, and DonBosco Catholic School for Boys.
“The kids seemed to do everything separately, except for marching and services at the cathedral, but even there the schools were separated.”
According to Carter, in Ghana students are not grouped into classes by age, but rather by their abilities.
“They pass each grade by taking tests. I had students ranging from the ages of 10 to 19,” she said. “There are also no special education classes; they don’t have the resources for children who are disabled.”
The students had to buy their own books and brought money to school for activities such as phys ed, which “was kind of bizarre to me,” Carter said.
At DonBosco first break and second break is equivalent to recess.
“One of the sixth-grade boys’ would beat the drum in a certain rhythm to indicate that it was time for break,” Carter said. “They were given 30 minutes to rest their minds from academics.”
For recess, the kids would usually play soccer or make up their own games.
“They had a big, open field with little to no grass and two poles to play football, or soccer as we call it here in the states,” Carter says. “They didn’t have enough balls to play with so if someone had a new ball everyone would want to play with it.”
The schools did not provide lunch for the students. During lunchtime the students were allowed to go and purchase their lunches.
“There were four older ladies who would sell snacks to the students. They sold rice, bread, peanuts, popcorn, and fruits,” Carter noted.
Although there are individuals who can speak English in Ghana, Carter said the way they phrase their sentences can vary widely from American English.
“We would say ‘I’ll be right back’ when we were leaving, but they would say ‘I’m coming.’ Also, when they share food they would say ‘You are welcome,’ and also use it as a greeting,” Carter pointed out.
While Ghana’s culture is different than American culture, Carter believes through cross-cultural experiences such as this one, Americans can take in information, accept differences and learn things about themselves.
“I’ve learned that having things does not make you happy,” Carter admits. “For instance, the children would play with their old balls and even make up games with bottle caps; even though it was pieces of garbage, they still found happiness within it. There was less stress. They put emphasis on relationships that they had with each other. Life just flowed on for them.”
At the conclusion of her trip Carter told her students at DonBosco about her students she was going back to teach at Yates.
“On my final day there I helped assist them in writing a letter about their school. I asked them what they wanted the students in America to know about DonBosco, and what they would like to know about the kids at Yates.”
Coming back from her two-month trip Carter rejoined her students at Yates and was able to share her letter from the kids at DonBosco.
“I showed them pictures and read them the letter. It was a great opportunity for them to know of the differences in our culture, as well as Ghana’s culture.”
Carter is currently working at J.O.Y summer school, and plans on visiting her children at DonBosco in Ghana again.