This Sunday, YCC’s Director, John, held another meeting with the parents of the young Ghanaians planning to voyage to Britain for three weeks in August for the return half of the wonderful educational exchange begun last year.
Several of you have asked for updates on this inspirational project, and a few of you (thank you again!) have even donated money through the Paypal button on this very site. I promise to continue to post updates like this as they come. Here is this week’s report:
1. It is awe-inspiring to see the amount of work and planning that the British half of this exchange, Kingston Youth Service, has undertaken over the past year and a half.
This week we were all able to read the SEVENTY-ONE PAGE report that British coordinator, Melissa Bob-Amara created, and I immediately sent off two emails to Ms. Bob-Amara gushing about the quality and detail of her write-up.
In Melissa’s report, every step of the first half of the exchange is outlined, from initial planning and fundraising meetings in Britain, to the actual three-week visit to Ghana in 2009 by the four leaders and thirteen youth from Britain. Each individual day in Ghana is explained in detail (down to the food that was eaten, and individual quotes by youth!), and the whole report sparkles with photographs, specifics, and lively writing.
Look at this picture to the lower right of the Youth Creating Change students huddled in glee around the report! During the meeting, the parents had the chance to flip through Melissa’s pages for the first time as well, and it was clear that it lent an air of “this exchange is actually real!” to the resulting discussion.
2. A clarification of expenses for those who contacted me to ask:
a) The Commonwealth will fund up to 40% of expenses and help with visas for twelve of the Ghanaian students.
b) The remaining 60% of the cost for those twelve students will be fundraised and provided for by the British youth group. (Isn’t that wonderful?? Please contact me if you would like to help them with this massive effort!)
Some of the families were able to start paying this money this week, and some are still really struggling. If John can find passport services for a lower price, he will promptly fund back the difference to the parents who have paid. He’s a truly honest guy!
d) As mentioned in the first Ghana-Britain Exchange article, there are five additional students who desperately want to join this exchange, but they will not be funded by The Commonwealth, nor by the British youth group fundraising. Therefore, YCC parents are trying their hardest to raise and pay extra money each to allow as many of those five students as possible to join. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime!
The current confusions and snags are too complicated to explain in full now, but suffice it to say that there have been numerous problems created by the fact that the Ghanaian naming system is markedly different from the British one, meaning John has had to pull back in a slew of documents parents submitted to authorities because the order of names on the passport form didn’t match the birth certificate form, which didn’t match the visa form.
4. Towards the end of the parent meeting, John asked me if I had anything to add. Wisdom kindly offered to translate my words into Ewe, as the parents speak much more Ewe than English, and the whole meeting so far had been conducted in that lovely local language. I said the following:
“If I were you, hearing about all of these details and documents and costs, I would be feeling extremely confused and perhaps even frustrated right now.” Several parents nodded as Wisdom translated.
“Although the expenses and the documents may seem awful, I believe that if you continue doing your best with all of it, you will truly rejoice when your child earns the opportunity to visit Britain and comes back with so much new knowledge and experience. It may be difficult now, but you are truly making an investment right now in the future of your children. Akpe: thank you.”
5. By the end of the meeting five parents had volunteered to form a core committee (pictured, right) which will regularly meet with John so that all seventeen parents do not need to. Each of these five parents will then report back to the group, making sure all the families stay informed and stay on top of what they need to do to make this exchange a reality.
6. In addition to their regular two hour Cross-Culture class on Saturdays with John, YCC students in this Britain exchange will now have an extra hour of Cross-Culture class with meeee on Mondays!
I will teach them about the various different countries I’ve visited (including Britain and the U.S.!) and about the process of traveling and interacting with new cultures, and in turn the students will teach me more about Ghana and Ghanaian history to prepare for the classes they will be giving British students in August.
Further, I will work with students on how to write personal experience articles (like the ones on this very website!) to document and reflect upon the new things they will experience across the ocean!
So there is this week’s stressful yet inspirational Ghana-Britain Exchange update. Stay tuned for more, and again, many thanks to those who are donating towards the cause!