Celebrating Mothers

The day started, like any other Sunday. A light breakfast of bagel cream cheese and a few olives, washed down with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. The powdered chocolate from cocoa grown in the rain forests of Ghana. Pure, refined and slightly bitter. It was creamy and had a sweet aroma. I glanced at my phone and noticed I had many messages from all my cherished children and dear friends wishing me a, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. I felt special. I had to share the feeling with my mothers, so I sent my mother-in-law and a few mentors messages of love and encouragement for this journey of parenting.

I then got ready for church, and remembered there was an event after lunch. I took my two choices of clothing with matching shoes and accessories, just in case one was not right.

After church, I stopped at my sister’s, joined the family for lunch and prepared for the Mother’s Day Garden-Tea Party. Many events in my life create images that stick and this was one of them. A colorful group of ladies, some familiar others not so familiar. We chatted and got acquainted with each other before settling down to a menu of delights. The youthful band surprised us with familiar music that sounded so perfect and mellow. It is only when you actually turned to see the band that you realized the music was live.

Meanwhile the setting was just extraordinary. Tables of two, four six and more had been set. With waiters at our beck and call. Mother’s being pampered. The garden was plush, I have grown to appreciate plants and ‘greenery’ so much. The garden had been cleverly nurtured, with a hut-like thatched roof of green palm branches. There was a mix of realistic looking artificial flowers for the décor, however there were beautifully colored roses as the center pieces on the plushly laid tables.

When we found our table, ‘Peach Tea’, none of the guests were seated. Soon after that, a few ladies joined us. The conversation started. The waiters served the most exotic tasting cold tea and kept refilling our glasses. They delivered the three courses on tiered servers. It seems scanty but definitely a delight to see and taste. It was filling, many choices, sweet and savory.

A remarkable experience. The sheer exuberance of the exquisitely dressed mothers or mothers to be. An escapade I am sure I will look forward to next year. Thanks to the organizers, like my children, this will live with me for a very long time.

d4845ebe-4a19-4393-92b2-e71c7e19137d (1).jpg

screen-shot-2017-12-02-at-6-09-23-am-1.png

 

 

Rising to the Occasion

Today is 64 years since Ghana gained independence. In celebration of the anniversary, I chose to read a book connected to Ghana to my Saturday reading group.

Ghana Flag

I tried to find a children’s story to read to the group of local children and could not find an appropriate one.
This made me spend all my free time yesterday crafting a story to read to them.

I’m very happy about the first draft. I made the story as authentic as possible, so they could relate to the main character and settings.

I believe, in our search for solutions ones’ creative spirit is heightened, this allows one to rise to the occasion and CREATE, in my case WRITE.

#SOL #SOLSC

Silence

Sometimes we want to be alone

To swim in the sea of peace

No sound, tranquility

Only the hum of whatever is humming

Sometimes we want silence

Quietness that allows you to think

To search for your own meaning and the

Understanding of the world

Sometimes there is too much

Noise around us

It does not give us time to reflect

Re-energise our thoughts

This steals time away

Sometimes we need to find moments of

solitude, of peace and quiet

to reflect on the here and now

Serving to face the future

A future of hope and love.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

Mangoes in Season

Driving through the university campus, close to the ticket booth, I noticed these green, unripe mangoes. They were hanging very low and left by pedestrians to ripen on the tree. I spotted the potential, juicy fruits hanging on the tree, a few days ago and was tempted to take a photograph of them. I guess I was attracted to the hanging fruits because that was a rare sight, in the last couple of years.

Those mangoes reminded me of how time heals.

In the last few years we have not enjoyed many healthy mangoes. There has been a ‘virus’ or disease that caused many of the leaves to blacken and stall the growth of the juicy fruits. All around the city this disease affected many trees. The huge mango tree at home was not spared and had to be sprayed and pruned a few times.

My brief research showed me what was affecting the the trees. The disease called ‘Sooty Mold,’ which is s fungus had spread throughout the region and affected many trees including mango trees. All the leaves were covered in a shiny black, powdery looking fungi and the trees gave birth to misly looking half-fruits.

A few years on, I am delighted that the disaster is behind us and we are now noticing many healthy, lush mangoes on trees, all around the neighborhood. When mangoes are in season, I absolutely enjoy them. They are so appealing and are the main ingredient in my smoothies. I choose the large species as they are more fiburous and succulent.

Can I compare or connect the disease of our local mango trees to the effect of the Corona Virus on humans?

One day all this bro ha ha will be over and we will, “hang, ripen and be full of goodness.”

That is my prayer, dream and hope.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

A Packed Day

The school day started quite well. I thought I was settled in my ‘office space’ in our grade level hub, which I had created from the new classroom furniture. My belongings moved with me to this space in a trolley, thoughtfully partitioned to house a teacher’s different needs. On Wednesdays students learn online and most of the work for a majority of students is asynchronous.

I still had a packed day with a full schedule planned. Individual meetings, small group meetings and a community meeting to start us all off. Of course my ‘transitional laptop’ went off prematurely so I had to move from my comfy, made up space to find a place to charge it.

I had signed up for the Covid vaccine, and felt we would be invited today. Last night I placed my ID card in my wallet. I was right , many of us, teachers and school staff, were invited for the vaccine, but had to queue for hours. After a long wait and some wrangling we all had our vaccines and a few of us hailed a cab back to work.

At school, I joined the tail end of our team meeting, it was all a blur as I had missed most of the discussion.

I rushed home as my daughter had an online assessment organised by a tutor, I had to supervise. I wore a different hat and found it all quite overwhelming as we had a very short time to get ready. I was panicking and had to print out some sheets for her to ensure all her questions were accessible.

I felt for parents and empathised with their plight. I kept wondering if that is the way we make our parents feel, especially during this period of online learning.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

The Hall

This slice is about a memory that I want to hold onto, one that reminds me of some of the pre – Covid era, at school.

There are occasions when you visit places that just spark distinct memories for you. We’ve been supervising our few students at school in our Multipurpose hall.

One morning, on entering, I just had a feeling that was quite interesting. Walking in, I remembered all the different events that I’ve either participated in or watched in the multipurpose hall.The images that came to me were extremely vivid, lively, colourful and sometimes brought aromas that whiff around the event or occasion. To reminisce I’m going to list some of the events here. Interestingly, I can clearly remember what took place on each of those occasions. 

We have photographic memories and I hope they last as long as possible as they release welcome feelings that should not be lost. 

International Festival: What I remember are the many colourful clothes, flags and images that share the sixty or so countries that are represented at our school. Always a phenomenal day with a cultural blast. We are normally taken round the world, tasting food from all around the world , experiencing dances, language, music and a rainbow of clothing. The frenzy is sometimes overwhelming as parents join their children and staff to begin an extremely electric parade. An image that is one to behold. On such occasions you wish the day would never end. The few speeches that are shared in this hall affirms the unity and celebrated diversity of the strong community.

All Staff Meeting: This normally happened on the last day of school, when we celebrated staff leaving and long serving members. Images of the blue kente stoles folded pristinely come to me.

All staff buffet: This buffet was always confusing with the different aroma: local, spicy food and the mild alternatives. What I remember clearly are the white table cloth on islands of tables surrounded by a few chairs.

Middle School Theatre: One that stands out and was beautifully choreographed, The Lion King. It was perfect. The students overdid it and the pride that I felt as part of the congregation was inexplicable.

High School Pop Chain:This one stood out, it took me to my childhood days, when music, dances and hairstyles from the past decades were displayed and performed. 

P.E: Colourful balls, students’ voices and movement, fast manouevres.

Field Day: Groups made up of students from different grade levels, wearing their house colours playing different games, I was sometimes the sweaty teacher with the whistle in hand.

Local Teacher Seminars; When we had to use this hall because our numbers had risen over the years from 150 to almost 600 local teachers. They started their day here with a warm breakfast and a lecture about Education generally and Teaching in our Ghanaian local schools in particular.

Holiday Concerts: Oh those were so cute. Students in their Sunday best, some with a little make-up or glitter for the occasion. The lights and colours were  extremely impressive. One that stands out was when the Elementary school sang different parts of a French song: “La Ballade”. The rendition that sparks goosebumps all over you.

Basketball matches: That was where I peeked to watch E play a match. My middle schooler gets so embarrassed seeing Mum watch her team.

Many of these events and celebrations happened multiple times. I’m sure there are more and more events that I will remember and hold onto. Oops I forgot the celebration before inter-school middle and high school team sports competitions when our Elementary classes created banners and chants for teams from other West African countries. The memories will keep pouring in.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

Today, One day

All lined up, we waited patiently to be called. In line we had muffled chats that we strained to hear.

As some of us had not seen each other for almost a year, we could not wait to chat, properly. We were made to sit a meter or so apart, whilst waiting after the test. How could we converse with our masks, masking our shrill voices?

Chairs had been arranged like a chess board with spaces between boxes. Our hidden smiles spewed into our eyes.

It felt like the first day of school, but this time we had been summoned for a different but important undertaking.

I met ‘strangers”, colleagues, for the first time, I’m sure they were smiling at me as I was too. Maybe our hand gestures would suffice.

We have a tradition of welcoming new friends to our international school community. It’s all different now, there are opportunities to meet online but it is no where near adequate.

One day… it’ll all be different.

#SOL21. #SOLSC

The Fall

We played in the garden after school everyday. I really enjoyed being outdoors and did everything from climbing trees to riding bikes. I believe it was a sunny Wednesday afternoon, that is when our home teacher Mr. Mensah screeched his noisy motorbike through the  driveway.

I always had my exercise books tidily laid out on the table under the thatched, ‘summer’ hut. The dusty blackboard was also positioned against one of the wobbly pillars. My half-chewed pencil was parked tidily beside my book, ready for my lesson. 

That gave me the opportunity to play for a few more minutes before the long, drawn lesson. Mr. Mensah was a stout, soft-spoken, conscientious teacher. He never arrived late and was very organized. His plan for the two hours was the same each Wednesday: note taking, memorizing facts and many practice questions. 

I was not the only student so it felt just like school all over again. My cousins J and A who were in the same class at our Elementary school always joined me, so did R, my sister, who was a year after us. I must have been almost nine years old.

As soon as the screech came to a stop, I ran towards the slide to get my last round. I tripped really badly, fell on my back and scraped my body against the metal handle. 

“Wooo, wooo, wooo,” I bawled! All the little legs ran towards me, causing the dust from the dry ground to surround us in a haze. They grabbed my arms and lifted me gently up the stairs to the main door of the house. I helped them out by dragging myself up. They placed me on the huge sofa and called Auntie.

I lifted my head slowly to see them all rush outside for the lesson. I smiled sneakily! I had escaped the day’s session.

Hidden Talent

She opened the book with her delicate hands, her fingers as thin as pens, seemed fragile as she confidently spoke whilst leafing through her book. Her audience were enchanted.

This, she had created by herself, at home. An accordion book that had doors she could open and windows she could see through. She gently took us on a journey to discover her hidden talent. Very impressed we all applauded, silently.

As she looked up, she noticed we were all awed by her creation. Faces in rectangles on the screen.

How swiftly one’s impression of another changes.

This continues to be a lesson to me, as a teacher of many years. I still need these reminders to seek the hidden strength of my students. This was our sharing opportunity when students book a slot to present a creation or talent.

In class, young lady was always quiet and shy, therefore did not volunteer her words, until called. Presenting her creation to the whole grade level must have been daunting for her, but she performed so eloquently and impressed us all both with her words and her handicraft.

One Halo Here

IMG_2216.png

I’ve never seen anything like this.

Through the lens of the camera,

 I saw it, squinting

As the bright rays of the sun 

shot straight at my face.

I continued regardless, squinting

Someone had called my son

They had all seen the rare find

How did they know it was there?

Something so camouflaged that can be seen

only when a photograph is taken.

 

Everybody saw it

Interestingly they all took photographs of it.

Mine was a struggle as I was seeking perfection

A full circle

I had to take many shots of it.

 

So many questions were asked

I shared it with friends and was truly excited

I was hoping I would receive answers

Perhaps someone would figure out what this is.

Some called it an eclipse others said it was a halo.

 

The beautiful multi-coloured ring around the sun

Was just enchanting. 

The struggle to capture it was worth all the effort

The claim is that it was caused by thin clouds

Tiny crystals in the Earth’s atmosphere creates this

I am left with more questions than I started with

When will this appear again?

How will we know it is there?

 

Veiled by the cloud but caused by them

The clouds formed the halo as 

Particles of tiny ice crystals

Swept across the sun

The two Rs caused this;

Reflection and Refraction

Another Science lesson to be had.

 

New Everything

Almost forty students appeared on the screen, as soon as the waiting room was opened. Totally different from nervous students walking into a classroom. Excited, bubbly- looking, expectant students with smiles on their faces showed up for their first day at school. This time, the teachers were anxious, it seemed funny but that is how we felt.

I called it a roller coaster day, one that swept us up, down and everywhere. Soon after one lesson, there was another, no time to breathe, still online, expecting some good work, just like ‘real’ school.

When another teacher popped into my  Writing lesson it was just great, supportive and calming. I felt reassured as she observed a student not engaging and pointed it out to me. I suggested she confer with the student in the breakout room,  whilst I carried on with the whole class, that helped.

The lessons were interactive and Ms. A’s videos were the icing on the cake. So perfect, reiterating what was being taught.

This was a short day but seemed extremely long and tedious, I guess it is because there were many parts that were new. New format, new students, new parents and colleagues, new schedule and new role/title.  Overwhelming, if you ask me, but teachers can be resilient, this time a little unnerving with the added virtual teaching.

The nice surprise was my guest. Our principal popping in, she mentioned how smooth the lesson was, that was the fruit on the cake, this time.

Screenshot 2020-08-18 at 10.47.59 PM.png