Posted by: devonhamilton | October 13, 2010


Tuesday marked our second day of MDG workshops and it went really well. We went from teaching a class of eight on Monday to a class of 30-40 students on Wednesday. Fred had some helpful ideas and constructive criticism after the first workshop, so we really tried to work to incorporate his suggestions.

This time, I felt a lot more confident while I was speaking and I made sure to include a lot of student involvement, in particular having them read most of the information that I read to them in the previous workshop. During the introduction of our presentation, after introducing YCI, I talk about Canada and ask them what they know about it. It turns out that they are not familiar with Canada at all so I’ve had to come up with a little summary of things that are “typically Canadian.”

Right now we are without a map so I have been referring to Canada as “Barack Obama’s hat” because they know Obama (actually they love Obama, but that is for another blog entry). The first time I explained that we have four seasons in Canada the class wasn’t interested, but during the last workshop they wanted to know all about the seasons. I explained that we basically have two cold seasons and two warmer seasons, and that sometimes it gets as hot as it is in Ghana in Canada, but we call it a heatwave; while other times it is so cold you don’t want to leave your house. They loved this and wanted to know the breakdown month by month. One student even asked if it rains in Canada the same way as it does in Ghana! I wish we had more pictures and resources to show them!

Some students asked me about Canadian food and a “traditional Canadian meal” – but we don’t really have one! I told them about poutine since they eat French fries here, and I told them we eat some other foods that I saw listed on menus here, like hamburgers and pizza. It is challenging to summarize your country in a few minutes!

From the introduction we move on to an icebreaker, which in this case was the human knot. Afterwards we divide the class into teams and quiz them on various parts of the workshop. Instead of having them raise their hands we used a method we used in class: you have to make an animal noise in order to “buzz in”. In this case we had the cat team and the cow team. The students got very competitive and it was hilarious (although I think we may have disturbed some of the other classes!).

We surveyed the class to find out which specific MDGs they would like future workshops to focus on. They are most interested in MDG 6 (HIV/AIDs) although it seems there is some degree of interest in all of the MDGs with the exception of 7 and 8 (environmental sustainability and global partnership). Outside of the YMCA we will also be teaching MDG workshops at the OIC, another school in Takoradi.

We taught English in the afternoon and although we were given a couple of textbooks we had no idea what level the students were at. I had the idea of having them write autobiographies: that way when we read them over we can see what they are having trouble with (spelling, sentence structure, grammar, etc) and also learn about the students.

A large number of students wrote about a game called “ludo”, which from my understanding is somewhat similar to backgammon. I hadn’t heard of this game yet so I’m really curious about it. In the last paragraph we asked them to write about their hopes and dreams, basically what are they studying in school and what kind of job they want to get. Many students wrote that their goals were to support their families and make them proud. We wondered how many North American students would write that as their ultimate career goal!

One student in the third year class is very curious about Canada, and she told me it is her dream to go to Canada someday. I was telling her that there is a Ghanaian community in Ontario and some Ghanaian restaurants in Toronto – but she was mostly concerned about the weather. She wanted to know how cold it gets in Canada, but there is really no way to quantify that kind of coldness to someone who lives in 45 degrees (taking humidity into account!).

I have really enjoyed getting to know the students so far, it has been fun interacting with them. I try to ask them about Ghana as much as I can, especially what things I should make sure to see and what foods I should try. I have been too shy to try my Fante on them but I have learned some new words: goat, dog, cat, eat, rooster, go away (sometimes necessary with all the attention, haha). My wedding ring was noticed today and I was congratulated on my (non-existent) marriage!

We are running workshops everyday for the next couple of weeks so I’m sure they will fly by. Our plans are up in the air at the moment and there is a chance that we will be in Takoradi a week longer than expected, delaying our arrival in Koforidua by a week. Will keep you posted of new developments!

PS: As promised, here are the pictures from Cape Coast castle.


  1. […] of Takoradi, accommodations and the work her team is completing. Check out Devon’s blog about her team’s second MDG […]

  2. Hi there, lovely blog. I was in Takoradi in February this year (GH10-4C) … it is great to see the school and the work you are doing there … how is my absolute favourite student (Short Abigail) .. she was in Year 2 when I was there but I am not sure how their system works so if she is in Year 3 now … ask Freddie about her for me please 🙂 Keep up the great work!

    • You are actually the second person to ask about her! I don’t know her (and it sounds like I should) but I have passed this message along to Fred!

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