Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Education here in Ghana means something way different than it does in America. It cost a lot of money for a child to go to school. They not only need to pay the schooling fee but for a uniform and all supplies too, as well as find a way to get there every day.

You are very blessed if you are one of the lucky ones that can afford school. If your family can not afford to pay for you to go to school, often kids will find things to sell in the market or beg for money. When children go and sell in the market they give half the money they make to their parents and keep half. It takes a long time to make the money for school but there is much determination to go to school in Ghana.

Because school is such a privilege the students go to learn (nothing else). Since the students value school so much there is not much goofing off in the classroom. Well, that and the schools are very strict, so you do not want to be punished in the school system.

The students walk to school every day; the day starts at 6:30am and goes until 1:30pm; it often stops for a break but not lunch. The students sit 2 to a desk and the teacher stands up in front and lectures all day. It is pretty much all memorization (I would fail in school here) and if a student does not understand, well there are just not many resources here to help them.

Wow, I am not use to that. I love to work with students one on one and move around, get up and play some games, do some projects, ask questions and basically have fun. Having Fun is Learning! Well, my little motto here is a very new concept to Ghanaians. I am trying to quickly, but culturally respectfully, work in some fun learning experiences. I am doing things like making art projects, sorting and feeling objects, math games, field trips and I am even going to bring out Uno. Yes, Uno is educational. It is all about problem solving, critical thinking, taking turns, sharing and working with others, competition, following rules, number order, reading Braille and learning how to have fun.

Come to think of it I really have taken my education for granted. My schooling was a trying time for me but I have made it almost all the way through college. I would not have been able to do it without my parents, dedicated teachers and fun learning. So thank you Mom and Dad; and thank you to all teachers and professors that helped me through my education and made it possible for me to be here now to help these students. You have made a difference in the world by making a difference in me.

If you have been through primary school you are blessed and if you have gone through secondary school you are privileged so rejoice and if you get a chance thank your teachers. (I expect all of second hour to thank Mr. Schanz)

Oh and Prof. Meyer, about your comment on coming home… I do still have to graduate and I promised my mom I would come home at least for a short while… Who knows where I will end up next :)


  1. Maddy - posted the photos you sent of the classroom - I know everyone is missing you and happy to see you in "Action" also see the classrooms - I love your appreciation of education it was often a struggle for you and you were fortunate to live in USA and have services available and opportunities too!!!! But also hard work and determination is key to your success and sounds like the Ghanian children too!

    Love ya - Mom

  2. One thing that dawned on us is,your never to old to learn. You young people are always teaching and re-teaching us things. A baby enters your life, and we think "how cute they are". And before you know it, suprise, things start to develope, like love, knowledge, charecter,pride, etc. Yes, my dear, you have taught us all this and more. We just want you to know how much we love you and not to forget,,,We still think your CUTE!
    G-MA & G-PA

  3. I like many taken my education for granted. The fact I could even read your blog gives credit to a teacher, who I also took for granted. I guess we have to be reminded every few secs. of how blessed we are. I have a little girl Fikiri Lewa, who goes to Gede Primary, and attends the Ack Church. She wants to be a teacher. Until your blog I did not realize how much my small monthly donation to her meant....I still think your CUTE too. Patsy

  4. Maddy,
    Thanks so much for this blog. I want to share it with my SPED 216 students so you have just become a homework assignment! I want them to see what student teaching can be..and the wonderful way that you have communicated what is taking place during this life shaping experience. Blessings to you and I trust you will receive some interesting comments.
    Prof Post

  5. Maddy,

    What a wonderful experience. I think what you are doing is truly inspiring for anyone who wants to walk in others shoes, and really feel how much we may take for granted. To think these small children actually "fight" to earn money to go to school should set an example to our many apathetic students who really do not appreciate a good education. Best of luck, and have fun with the many stories you will bring back with you, to share to your family and friends.

    Take care.


  6. Maddy,
    Your courage to student teach in a foreign country is truly inspiring. I'm encouraged by your example to research and find unique locations where I might have the opportunity to teach. The difference between the cultures and customs between Ghana and the United States is vast. I commend you for attempting to integrate fun activities such as art projects and math games into your daily lessons. I hope that your students are receptive to these new learning styles and can benefit from them. I will be sure to pray for you, your students, and your entire experience!

    Mike Senatore

  7. Maddy,
    I think what you are doing over in Ghana is extremely noble of you. It sound like a wonderful experience to be able to help so many students succeed in life. It also makes me happy to hear that the kids take education so seriously and do whatever it takes to get into the classroom. I think your idea of incorporating Uno into teaching is genius. Your absolutely right about all the things that game can teach a person, and not many people might see that. I too have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and I agree with you that learning is fun...but furthermore teaching is rewarding. It takes great desire and it's a great feeling to wake up every morning and love the fact that you're going to "work." I wish you the best of luck there for the remainder of your visit. I have faith that you will change the live of all the students you work with.

    Steve Radostits

  8. I think that is awesome that you decided to go out of your comfort zone and face a completely different culture to do your teaching. I am sure you are really making a positive impact on your students. It seems that you really love what you are doing and I wish you the best of luck.

  9. Hey Maddy,

    What a great opportunity you have being in Ghana. Here state side, many of us often go about our placements and students teaching with such anxiety, but I could not imagine what it would be like there. God has given us a great opportunity to be educated here in the U.S. I myself have not even realized this until recently that we have so much opportunity. It really takes an opportunity to be out of your comfort zone to realize this, but the first step is jumping into something head first. Props to you and I am sure you are doing wonderful things in Ghana. I will pray for you and your students and the relationships you are building. Keep up the good work!

    Take Care,

    John Nekic

  10. Hi Maddy,

    I want to start off by saying how amazing I think it is what you are doing. I know from personal experience what it can be like to work with people who are visually impaired but never in the same context as you. You are an example of hard work and bravery to go across the world and teach kids from not only a different culture as you (as hard as that is) but kids who can't necessarily be taught the same way you were taught. I can't imagine how inspiring it is to see all these kids want to learn and who are so appreciative of their education, that must make that much more of a blessing to teach them. Good luck with the rest of your time and I hope you continue to enjoy it.

    Erin Albright

  11. Congratulations Maddy, it seems as though you are getting the opportunity to do something that you love and impact a lot of children. You are a part of something great. It will be interesting to watch your blog and see if you decide to go back to Africa or try your hand at teaching here. I can only imagine some of the transitions that you have gone through. It is awesome to see that you are bringing your own style and energy with you; I hope that they will be open to some of your suggestions.

    Good luck with the rest of your journey,
    Anthony Ferrazzi

  12. Hello Maddy!

    What a wonderful path you have chosen in life! It is quite a gift to be able to go to school to better ones life. Too many people forget what kind of obstacles had to be over comed for each of us to sit in the classroom today. I wish you the best on your journey.

    Brandilyn Asplund

  13. Maddy,
    I think it's great how much you are learning in another country. Not many people have the endurance to deal with the tough situations that you encounter in Africa. Continue to serve christ through teaching. Keep up the great work with the students. They seem great. May God continue to bless and keep you.
    Sincerely, Courtney Randle

  14. Hello Maddy!
    After reading your article, I was inspired by the hard work your doing along with the courage it took you to leave your homeland to teach in an unfamiliar land. You have showed me how blessed we are to have the choices and opportunities in the United States when it comes to obtaining an education. Your article and website as a whole has opened a whole new world of education to me and is an influence to search for places where I could benefit others as greatly as you are doing. Good luck with the rest of your journey and I hope your teaching style opens new horizons for those you are teaching!
    Sincerely Jon Anderson

  15. Maddy,

    I think that what you are doing is such a great experience. It's awesome that you are trying to incorporate new ideas and new teaching strategies into your classroom. I definitely take for granted my learning opportunities here in America. I feel that I should have the same appreciation and excitement for learning as your students do. I think I would also like to do my student teaching in a different country like you are doing. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Africa.

    God Bless,

    Zak Hood

  16. Hi Maddy!
    So glad to hear that things are going well, but are also a struggle. It's not also easy to follow where God is calling you to go-but you are diving in and taking it as it comes. It sounds like you have some great ideas and are working hard to help these kids through their schooling! I agree so much with everything that you have said. It's so easy a lot of times to think that we have it so hard here int he states when it comes to schooling. We complain about tuition costs, but forget about scholarships and loans, we complain about hard classes and workload, but forget about helpful professors and tutors, and we complain about short commutes, and forget that we have vehicles or willing drivers to take us. But it's so easy to fall into this routine and forget what we are blessed with. Thanks for the reminder, all the luck in the world to you, and God Bless!
    Alyssa Guerrin

  17. Maddy,
    I think it's great what you're doing in Ghana! I especially loved reading about how you're incorporating fun activities and projects into the lessons to keep the students interested. I know I couldn't handle straight lecture all day--way to think of the students!
    God bless and enjoy the rest of your student teaching.

    Jackie Witte

  18. Hi Maddy,
    I hope that you have been recieving all of the appreciation and admiration from my fellow classmates in SPED216; I share in their feelings. I think that what you are doing is great, even though I imagine it's tough, and I wish you the best in your remaining time there and when you return. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    Jim Van Howe

  19. Wow Maddy,

    What an inspiraation you are to me. Going all the way to Ghana to help with the education there is a real awesome thing you are doing. While reading your blog I couldn't help, but think about how easy it is to recieve education here in the states. Also, the thing about discipline, is crazy, I feel like we goof off so much here that it would be impossible for an American student to make it in that school system. That is amazing that you are working with students who are blind, you truely are being blessed and blessing them. I hope that they understand and enjoy Uno! God Bless you and all the work you are doing.

    Hannah Gonzales

  20. Maddy,
    I think what you are doing is phenomenal and I am so appreciative of the things that God is teaching you. There are so many perceptions that we have about the way things should be, simply because they are the way we do things. But in realtiy, the whole world operates differently than we do. It is so important to realize what is good and bad about these things. Keep sharing and God bless...

  21. Hi Maddy!

    Wow, that must really be an eye-opener! It makes me stop and think of how blessed we are here. So many times I remember thinking of how much I hated going to school. The kids there see it as such a privilege which is amazing! I also think it is great that you are trying to incorporate new ways for the students to learn. I wish you all the best as you continue your teaching!

  22. Maddy,
    You are so brave for taking the step out of comfort and into a place where you can make a dramatic difference in the lives of your students. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job of presenting the kids of Ghana with a fun educational experience, like the one you recieved. It must have been so exciting to have your kids get invited to talk on the radio. I think the fact that you are willing to take your weekends and help them rehearse probably speaks wonders to them about how much you care for them and their education. I think it is a blessing for students to have an educator that really cares about making a difference in their lives and that your students will be blessed to have known you. It truly does open our eyes to how privlidged we are when we look at the things other people cheris. Sounds like you are doing an amazing job and I pray that God will continue to bless you and your students through your work there.

  23. Maddy,
    You truely are blessed to be able to have a wonderful experience like you are having right now. It seems like what you are getting the opportunity to learn what making modifications to teaching is truely like. It is also amazing to see how you are taking things that we take for granted in America like uno and using it to teach the underpriveleged mathematics.

    Keep up the great work and God Bless the work you are doing,
    Chris Boswell

  24. Maddy,
    I give you alot of credit for being over there and helping others. Especially people who are in need and of a different culture. By doing this, I am sure you have learned many things about their different education system. Since reading your blog, I have come to realize that we as a nation are blessed to have schooling systems that are far advanced and special that make American schooling one of the best places to receive a great education. Good luck in the future and keep on blessing others.

    Daniel Bracken