Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts on a rainy Friday

It’s another gray, rainy day, the kind of Friday that makes you want to curl up under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and either your boyfriend or (if you’re spinster-in-training like I am) your cat while you watch movies all night. If this weather continues, it will be very strange for me to return to a sunny California summer in eighteen days to discover Christmas is still another five months away.

Today’s big news is that Barrack Obama is here, or will be soon. For his first visit to Africa as president, the first African-American president of the United States of America has chosen to visit Ghana. It is a huge honor for the country and everyone is so excited for his visit.

This isn’t a political blog, so I don’t want to get into that, but, politics aside, I’m already sick of Obama, Everyone here is obsessed with him. It’s quite annoying, really. “Obama fever” was highest in October/November leading to the elections, January (inauguration), and in now July, now that he’s coming. Everyone in Africa seems to think that because his skin color matches theirs he’ll give Africa free handouts and solve all their problems for them. There are songs about him, T-shirts and local print cloth with his picture, and even plastic take-out bags with his face and “Greetings from Obama” written on them. He’s like a god to them, and the only thing they know about him is that he’s black. No one here has any idea about his policies or what he stands for, but he’s African-American, so he must be wonderful, they think. Living with religious nuns doesn’t help. He holds many views that are contrary to their religious beliefs, such as his stances on abortion and homosexuality, but the nuns either don’t believe me when I tell them (Sister Anne), or defend him and his views even though when any other person holds them they are condemned as sinners (Sister Julie), or are convinced that once someone just tells him that the church says it’s wrong, he’ll realize the grave errors of his ways and repent wholeheartedly and rid the world of these sins with his divinely-given African superpowers (Sister Germaine). The most annoying part is that, anytime I express a negative opinion of him, the number one response I get is, “Ah, so you don’t like him because he’s a black man?” It bothers me so much that people would think that a person’s skin color is the only reason I’d disagree with one of his statements! I’m thrilled that we have a black president, but as an individual with freedom of speech, I don’t have to agree with every single thing he stands for. I’ve heard mixed reviews from the US about his performance as president, so I’m not sure what to expect when I go home, but I’m hoping for the best. At least I won’t have to hear his name mentioned anytime someone finds out where I’m from!

“Obruni! Where are you from?”


“America! Ah, Obama! He’s a good president.”

“How do you know?”

“Because he’s a black man!”

Whatever. As for my life.. despite the rainy weather, today was better. Class 4A remained almost miraculously quiet while their classmates’ teams gave presentations about the countries to which they were assigned. This week, we heard presentations on Peru, Spain, Russia, and the United States of America. I somehow had more patience today, so my students were better behaved. I think many of them felt guilty about being too disrespectful lately, so they were extra sweet and affectionate today.

One of my best friends has told me several times that my biggest fault is that I think too highly of others. I hold myself to very high moral standards and I expect others to do the same. I try my hardest not to let people down and don’t expect to be let down by others, so I’m always surprised and disappointed when I am. I think this fault of mine is why I’ve been in such a bad mood lately. I expect my students to be good not because they’re afraid of the cane, but because they want to be good. Silly me. The sad truth is, many of them don’t want or don’t care to be good. I just need to get that into my head and accept that not all children are naturally good. Some of them do want to be good and usually succeed (Ohemaa, Chris, Dean, Stephanie, Kwasi, Lisa, Lina, and a few others), but most children only think about themselves and don’t care that their insults can really hurt their fellow classmates.

Ah! Sometimes, I wonder how I’ll survive the next now it’s seventeen days until my departure... but I know once I’m back home, I’ll really, really, really miss my students.

I won’t miss washing clothes by hand. I won’t miss ice cold bucket showers. I won’t miss banku with okru stew. I won’t miss walking through the mud and always feeling dirty. I won’t miss being called “Obruni” everytime I step out of the house. I won’t miss the mosquitoes. I won’t miss Sister Suzy. I won’t miss seeing men pissing in the streets. I won’t miss typing other teachers’ exam questions because they don’t know how (like I’m supposed to be doing right now, oops). But I will miss my students, that’s for sure.

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