Introducing new program associate Rachel Boehm
My path to Ghana has been in the works for a number of years. While working towards my Undergraduate degree in International Studies, I considered Ghana as a potential place of study. I ended up choosing Senegal, another West African country, and staying for a full year. My work and studies there saw me in the public health field briefly before taking a leadership role in a girls empowerment program in Ouakam, Dakar. It was a challenging year in many respects as I mastered both French and Wolof languages and learned to navigate within their social norms. It was there that the deal was sealed: I loved living abroad, working on behalf of others, and relished all the moments those things created.
I was drawn to Exponential Education in particular due to their program model. Their close collaboration with teachers, headmasters, and government officials means they have effective input from Ghanaians on how best to target their programs. Using their feedback as a foundation, Expo can then use Senior High School (SHS) aged tutors to assist Junior High School (JHS) students. For their service, the tutors are given a stipend, which can help buy their books or other needed materials. Of our group of tutors, one recipient is chosen for an annual scholarship that can be used towards any school related expense – uniforms, books, tuition, or even saved for university fees. This program makes sense. It empowers the SHS students while ensuring JHS students have a higher likelihood of passing their exams needed to enter SHS.
While living in Ghana, I have outlined several modest goals for myself. One might think I am a little outrageous, but I come from Oregon so I’m just staying true to my roots.
1. Build a brick oven on the back patio of the Oduom House. I miss pizza, end of story.
2. a) Build a chicken coop in the back yard.
b) Acquire chickens.
c) Harvest Eggs.
d) Kill some chickens.
e) Eat soup.
3. Acquire a pet. So far we have giant snails in a bin with some sticks. The chickens don’t count, so I need a cat or a dog or something.
4. Explore the far corners of Ghana on weekends and holidays.
5. Explore as much as I can of Ghana’s surrounding neighbors.
6. Master the accents of all staff members. So far it looks like it’ll be Danish, British, and Ghanaian.
All in all, I find these to be reasonable goals. Ghanaians are welcoming and kind to a fault, so I feel that the efforts required to meet these goals will at the very least be fun, hilarious, and full of adventure. All the while, I’ll be making remarkable friends among my fellow staff and community members. Please stay tuned to hear more of our excellent educational programs, life in Kumasi, and maybe even a wood-fired pizza.