A Day in the Life of a Gap Year Student in Ghana, West Africa

Authored By:

Mollie W.

I have been in Ghana for about six weeks now, and since I have had the opportunity to settle down and get my bearings, I felt that it was the perfect time to write my first blog post about my daily life here. As a participant in the service and leadership program, I have the chance to volunteer at La Future Leaders Community School in Teshie. Future Leaders offers free education to those who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. 30% of Ghanaian families live on less than $1 a day, and through donations and sponsorships the school is able to thrive. This experience alone has been ten times sweeter than I ever could have anticipated. It’s about a 4.5 hour commute a day to travel to Future Leaders and back. This requires me to wake up at 5 am every morning to get to the school somewhat on time. I travel every day through means of public transportation: trotros. If your reaction is anything like mine when I first heard about them, you’re thinking, ‘trotro? Huh?’ Me too, sis. Trotros are basically old, beat up vans with a driver and a mate (typically a young male) who is responsible for receiving the money, knowing where you’re going, and telling the driver when to stop. There are stops everywhere. This is a very, very popular method of cheap transportation. For example, to travel from the stop by my house in North Legon to a stop 75 minutes away with traffic is 2 cedis. That is an equivalent of 40 cents in American currency. Sounds nice, right? If you like to snuggle close with strangers and sweat more than you thought humanly possible, then this is for you! Occasionally, I will decide to be fancy and get a taxi or an Uber if I need my personal bubble to grow back.

One quick note: it is HOT here. Like hot hot. Like melting acrylic nails off hot. (Yes, that happened). Like surface of the sun hot. I’m exaggerating but I have never sweat so much in my life. 90 degrees every day with about 90% humidity... and it’s not even the rainy season yet!!! Prayers would be greatly appreciated, that’s all, thank you.

For a lot of people, the thought of traveling completely by yourself every day in a foreign country seems daunting. Especially when it’s your first time out of the country - what was I thinking??? It did seem a little overbearing beforehand; although, I must say that I have never felt anxious or unsafe once while I have been here. Weird. However, I don’t think I will ever get used to the amount of stares and propositions I get on the street every day. I think I was just so full, practically exploding, with excitement to be here that it has left absolutely no room for nervousness. All I feel is complete contentment and gratitude.

Once I arrive at Future Leaders, I am greeted by a lot and a lot of cute kiddos. My role as a volunteer is to teach the nursery students in one-on-one lessons each day. The nursery class ranges from students ages four to eight, depending on when they started at the school. With the students, we work on the memorization and recognition of the alphabet and numbers. If they are past that, then we will start working on learning two and three letter words and forming sentences. When school starts, we sit under the tree outside and wait for Madam Nancy to send out our students for the morning session. Its the cutest thing to see the students running towards us with their whiteboards and journals, so excited to be taught by a bunch of obronis. Haha. (I will talk more about the term ‘obroni’ later). Teaching these kids has been so much fun, but sometimes it can be a challenge. They are young, and most of them have the attention span of a freaking fly. I have noticed that a few students have a hard time understanding us as well, so with all of these factors in mind, it definitely encourages creativity in our methods of teaching. We were told that we will be teaching in the classrooms next month, and I am seriously so pumped for that. It has been so exciting meeting all of the kids and creating closer relationships with them. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t already cried at the thought of leaving. They are all so warm and happy and it is very contagious to say the least.

Photo for blog post A Day in the Life of a Gap Year Student in Ghana, West Africa

After our morning session it is lunch break. Lunch breaks are the best part of the day because all of the students are released from their classes and they come play with us under the tree. Whether it’s teaching them ‘Baby Shark’, doing the Macarena, taking pictures, or having a dance circle, it is always an adventure. These kids have filled a laarrrggee hole in my heart that I didn’t even know existed!!!

Photo for blog post A Day in the Life of a Gap Year Student in Ghana, West Africa

Once school closes, we then grab a Fanyogo for the road (Fanmilk would change the world if it were sold outside of Ghana), and head home. I spend a full day at Future Leaders twice a week, and the other days I either have a Twi class on the University of Ghana campus, or I volunteer at another foundation which I will talk about in upcoming posts. When I return home, I greet my amazing host family and eat dinner with them. I am usually exhausted when I bet back, so we either watch television together, which includes a plethora of soap operas and novellas, or I go to bed. I then reflect on my day and write in my journal about what I did and felt. I’m so blessed to be in a place where I go to bed excited to experience the next day.