FKF in Ghana – June 2012
They both didn’t have any specific plans about going abroad for their internship, but they ended up in Ghana. Daisy van Mook and Karlijn Overbeek, now both 19 years old, have just returned from an exciting trip to Ghana, were they have been teaching English to kids of practically all ages. How cool is that?!
“Actually, I just attended the informative meeting at school, because I was curious. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go abroad for my second-year internship”, tells Karlijn. All the other students attending the meeting had wild ideas and were planning to go as far away as possible. Karlijn herself got really excited about the project named ‘Ghanagangers’ and afterwards told Daisy about it. In the end, most of their classmates stayed in the Netherlands, while Karlijn and Daisy went all the way to Ghana.
Their school, a VET institution, Vitalis College in Breda, has several years’ experience with sending students to Ghana for their work placement. Vitalis College has been working with a primary school in Ada, run by mr Seth. He takes care of the students. The students also have a so-called watchman, to keep an eye on them, and to make sure no one hurts them. “Even though my parents were slightly worried about the distance and circumstances there, they understood I had to take this chance”, Daisy smiles. “And because it’s a project that’s been running for a few years, it was easier for them to let me go.” Both Karlijn and Daisy’s boyfriends didn’t like the idea, but, well, what’s three months on a lifetime?
Karlijn and Daisy both study to become an ‘onderwijsassistent’ (teaching assistant), so they probably would have to assist the teachers at the school in Ghana. “But we ended up teaching two classes on our own!”, they tell me. When they arrived at the school, the teachers just walked away, expecting Karlijn and Daisy to take over classes. Daisy: “We were so glad we actually prepared our internship, otherwise it would have been way more complicating. We wanted to use the materials straight away, but it turned out we first had to assess the students to determine their level of English. We fabricated tests for this ourselves.”
Arnold Augustijn, chairman of the English for Kids Foundation (EFKF), approached them a few weeks before departure. He asked them whether they would be interested in teaching English to the children in Ghana, using the teaching materials developed by EFKF. Of course they were! Thus, they received lots of materials and started preparing. “It’s good we made lots of copies here, because you never know when you’re able to copy in Ghana. The electricity might be shut off, or it’s incredibly expensive”, explains Karlijn.
One lesson they prepared in advance was a workshop about tooth brushing. Tooth brushing? “For us this activity is self-evident, but most children there had never seen a toothbrush before. We brought toothbrushes and toothpaste and we had made them diplomas and they were so extremely proud afterwards, it brought tears in our eyes”, Daisy tells. “The most fun they had was when they were actually allowed to spit in the bucket we brought for the workshop. It was hilarious!”
Of course it wasn’t fun all the time. They also experienced some serious cultural differences. The most striking difference probably was the fact that teachers actually use corporal punishment to control the kids. “Horrible to see, and certainly not something we applied”, shivers Karlijn. But the children seemed to think it as normal. “And, in a way, it is, for them” Daisy says, “We talked to Seth about it, not making a judgment, but we just wanted to know why.”
Do they think the EFKF makes a difference? “Certainly!”, they both agree. “If it wasn’t for their materials, we would have had a hard time there.” They add: “Preparation is everything with a thing like this. And don’t expect too much”. Would they go back? “As soon as possible”, they both agree, smiling. “We’ve received lots of messages on Facebook from our friends there, they miss us. And we miss them!”
So, all in all, a great experience, thanks to EFKF and Vitalis College.
Kim van der Steen, June 2012