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Gloria M. Papanko's Report

Gloria M. Papanko glomapap@yahoo.com

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A REPORT PRESENTED BY GLORIA M. PAPANKO, A VOLUNTEER TEACHER AT ROYAL ACADEMY
NAME OF VOLUNTEER: GLORIA M. PAPANKO
NAME AREA POSTED TO:  ROYAL ACADEMY, WUSUTA-VOLTA REGION

INTRODUCTION
In the 2010 Rural Peace Project, volunteers were sent to various primary and junior high schools (JHS), as well as senior high schools (SHS) to teach. The basic or general requirement of this project was to create awareness of peace and conflict. It involves forming a peace club in the schools, holding peace programmes including peace talks, peace walks and any other forum for promoting peace and avoiding or preventing conflict. This was to benefit not only the school but the community as well and if possible the region.
My group constituted three people. It included Gifty N. Agbenyega, Patricia Kwarteng and I, (Gloria M. Papanko). We arrived at our area of posting (Wusuta) on the 1st of June, 2010 and left finally on the 20th of July, 2010. During that period, we undertook many activities including teaching. I taught English Language and Social Studies in the Upper Primary and JHS, Gifty taught Basic Design and Technology and Information Technology, while Patricia taught Mathematics and Integrated Science, all in the Upper Primary and JHS.

ABOUT THE STATION (WUSUTA)
Wusuta is located in the Volta region of Ghana, more specifically in the Kpando district. It is about a forty five minute to a one hour drive from Kpando, branching through Vakpo, another town close by. The town is situated in between two mountains with a portion of the Volta river at the outskirts of the town. It has an Ewe speaking population of about five thousand people who are mainly farmers and fishermen. Because the town is situated near the Togo border, the people can speak good French as well. Wusuta is a Christian dominated community of very friendly and welcoming people.
The school in which I taught is known as Royal Academy Preparatory (Primary and JHS). It is a private school made up of about two hundred students with a teaching staff of seven and one non-teaching staff. The school is owned by a reverend father called Father Isaac Bennuyena (proprietor). He was also our host and a very nice person. He provided us with good accommodation and food.

ACTIVITIES      
Many activities were undertaken.
During my teaching experience, apart from academic work I also organized spelling quizzes, did general supervision, gave some pieces of advice, gave some Christian spiritual training and tried to instill discipline.
A general awareness on peace and conflict avoidance was undertaken. It took the forms of peace talks, a peace walk and the formation of a peace club.
We held peace talks in the various churches at Wusuta where we touched on conflict avoidance in the home or the family, in marriage, at work, at school and in the community as a whole. We also visited various schools where we talked about conflict avoidance at school, between teachers and students, parents and children and among peers especially; the importance of peace and the effects of conflict and other issues of importance to the students. We also shared ideas through questions and answers.
 
At Royal Academy, (the school in which I taught), a Peace Fellowship Network chapter (Peace Club) was opened with a patron and an assistant, about sixty (60) students and seven executives. Patrons and executives were chosen to begin work. About six meetings were held during which some values of AFCOPB and PFN were instilled in the students, such as the meaning, motto and aim of the organization. Manners and etiquettes were also taught, general questions about peace and conflict avoidance were addressed as well as general issues of importance to the students.

To climax the period of our stay and the volunteer peace project, we organized a peace walk through the whole town as well as neighboring villages, with banners and small boards showing inscriptions and messages on peace and conflict avoidance. These were written in both English and Ewe. Afterwards, we had a small party at the school for the children and the teachers.

We also attended an African Centre for Peace Building (AFCOPB) and Peace Fellowship Network (PFN) meeting and workshop at Ho in the Volta region where we met other volunteers and the executives to share ideas and experiences and also to address various problems.

Aside the work, we also had some fun. We visited the Wli waterfalls at Wli in the

Volta region near a town known as Fodome with Father Isaac, our host. It was a very interesting experience where we had to walk quite a distance crossing about nine bridges before getting to the water falls itself.

OBSERVATIONS
I am quite impressed with AFCOPB and PFN for organizing such a programme. I realized that some difficulties were encountered by the PFN in trying to make this programme a reality including financial constraints and some inconveniences. But the executive body was able to pull through and to put some resources together for the success of the programme amidst much criticism from disappointed volunteers. This programme is really packed and opens up many opportunities to participants as well as an experience of a lifetime.
In the school, I observed that the students were not many with as few as seven to ten students in some classes. There were also inadequate educational materials and facilities as well as just a handful of teachers. Some teach as many as three to four subjects in more than one class. This is a clear indication that in most rural areas, not so much value is placed on education and also because it is a private school, many parents cannot afford the school fees (which is not too much). But in view of all these challenges, the students and the teachers try to make the best out of what they have and so it is one of the best if not the best school in the town. I had a very cordial relationship with the headmaster, teachers as well as my colleague volunteers.
The experience I had due to the exposure the programme gave me was very beneficial. I learnt how to live in peace with my colleague volunteers who are two very different people; I learnt how to address some issues and how to forget about others for peace sake. I also learnt how to adapt to a whole new environment and live on my own, away from my family and friends and how to survive even in very difficult circumstances. Again, I learnt how to manage work and my own personal time and I even discovered new things about myself. There are many more things I learnt which will have a positive impact on my life.

FINANCIAL REPORT
 There was no really big expenditure except for petty things bought to satisfy my other needs and transportation.

CHALLENGES
There was no real challenge with AFCOPB /PFN except for the fact that there was no visitation.
On the field as a volunteer, my major challenge was the language barrier. The students mostly spoke Ewe and some French, but very little or poor English. I sometimes found it very difficult to express myself. I either had to step down my English for them to understand or make certain gestures along with my speech in order for them to understand. Some of the students too were very naughty and it was quite tough for me, trying to understand them and knowing the best way to deal with everyone.         The school is also situated on a hill and we had to walk quite a distance to get there. This was however not a major challenge and with time I was able to overcome it.
Again, things were quite expensive in the town.
I learnt team work at school and at home with my colleague volunteers. We had to agree and disagree on certain issues. It was not easy from the start but we always came to a conclusion and I learnt to respect the views of everybody and to understand everybody’s make-up in order to be able to corporate well with them.

RECOMMEN DATIONS
I did not have too much of a big challenge since I was able to overcome most of them. I will only suggest that AFCOPB/ PFN should supervise more closely by frequent phone calls and visitation to various areas where volunteers have been posted.
I would also suggest that this programme is undertaken more frequently as it will not only be beneficial to the volunteers but AFCOPB and PFN in their bid to reach out to the world with the message of peace.

CONCLUSION
 The Lord God Almighty was my main source of motivation as I could always look up to Him at any particular point in time. I was also motivated by the fact that the world which I form a part of, needs peace and if anyone was to bring an end to war and conflict, it should be me and I could start by spreading the good news of peace in my own small way wherever I find myself.
Let us all embrace peace because we are one big family and what affects you affects me, what affects me affects you also and eventually affects the whole world.
PFN! MAKE SOMEBODY HAPPY!!!

 
make somebody happy!
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....."Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous" -- George Bernard Shaw
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