Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving thanks

(This post is a few days late, but that's what happens when I don't have on-demand Internet access like in the US.)  I spent my Thanksgiving holiday (Wed-Fri) catching up with many of the teachers I knew well during my assignment in Kumasi.

Since this vacation has been somewhat unplanned, I wasn't really sure how much time I would have in Kumasi after leaving the village.  I was able to stay there for three days, which gave me enough time to visit 12 of the 15 schools in the program.  Of the remaining three, two no longer have teachers I know and there's only one remaining teacher from the program at the last school.  How did I get to all these schools scattered across three sub-metros?  Wilfred, the S2S coordinator who took on my role after I left, was unbelievably wonderful about driving me to all the schools.

At each school, we went through a very similar routine.  Wilfred and I would walk up towards the school.  As we got closer and saw teachers I knew, they would look at us in disbelief, not really believing what their own eyes were telling them: that I was back in Kumasi.  I know that most (maybe all) of them never expected to see me again when I left.  Many of the female teachers would hug me (rather gingerly, like I would break if they hugged me hard) while the male teachers would shake my hand.  I would share with them my story of visiting my PCV friend on my holidays and tell them how glad I was to have the time to see them, even if only for a few minutes.

All of the teachers were grateful to see me, with many commenting upon how "you kept us in your heart" even after my return to the US.  Some of them also commented upon how much they appreciated me spending my own funds to see them.  Some of the individual reunions were particularly memorable:
-Lucy, a headmistress, was on the phone when we walked up.  She kept talking, but then she did an actual double-take and ended the call quickly to be able to greet me.
-Elizabeth, one of my favorite ICT teachers, was so happy to see me that she literally squealed.
-Bernard, one of the teachers I had nominated to interview for the role that Wilfred now has, was so surprised to see me that he said, "I will mark this on my calendar as the biggest surprise of the year".
-Julius, who is one of the most unlikely success stories, pumped my hand so hard while shaking it that I thought my arm would come off.  He tried to show me something on the Internet (which, unfortunately, was not working).  I was astonished at how well he used the PC when trying to show me.

Every reunion was different, but they all had one thing in common: I felt such amazing levels of gratitude from them for what I considered to be such a small gift, the gift of my time.  I cannot imagine a better way to have spent the uniquely American Thanksgiving holiday than receiving so much thanks from so many wonderful people.  I am grateful for having the chance to see them again so that they know that someone across the huge Atlantic ocean still cares about them.

No comments:

Post a Comment