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Introducing new program associate Taylor Chustz

Hello or mema wo akye as they say in my village in Antoa. My name is Taylor Chustz and I will be working with Exponential Education as a Program Associate in the tutoring program and the Girl's Leadership Program. I have been in Ghana for a week now and it has been an exciting adventure so far!

I'm excited to begin working with young women and in the education sector in Ghana. I have always held a passion for community service and education. As well, women's empowerment has been a constant narrative in my life as I have attended a women's high school and college.

I'll tell you a little about myself though before I tell you about Ghana. I am from the good old deep south. AKA Greenwell Springs, Louisiana where I was born and raised. After going to college for one year at Louisiana State University I decided I needed a break from school and worked with a non-profit called City Year in Boston. There I worked as a teacher's aid in contained classrooms. I loved Massachusetts so much that I decided to stay there and transferred to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. There I studied international relations and educational policy. After graduating in 2012, I took an offer to work with Teach For America in Chicago where I worked as a middle school math teacher in Englewood. All these experiences have been magnificent and have prepared me in some way for where I am now!

It has been an entertaining time learning the language. Especially when I ran around the main market looking for snails and plates as a learning experience task! Laura, our Director of Operations, led us though the market in a fast pace, where we really didn't know our surroundings. After probably 10 minutes of walking she stopped us and split us into groups and gave us our task. My group, myself and the lovely Rachel and Ann, walked briskly through the market for our task of finding not only four plates, but also the coveted snails. The plates were successfully found, after kind of losing one of our teammates. However the task of the snail was still lurking... Earlier we found a man at a meat stand that said that if we couldn't find the snails, to comeback and see him. So we did! This lovely gentleman then lead us across the street through a maze of stalls and people screaming “Obrhenie” or enticing the meat eaters with dried fish. After the mad dash we found the prize. The snails of success. I claimed and purchased my one snail and then we followed our guide to the trotros. Victory was in our sights. However, we ended up on a van that broke down going up a hill. Wamp wamp. Again, the lovely community of Ghana came to our rescue and helped us find another trotro. Victory was in our grasp! But as we walked confidently to our home in Odum we were told that the other team had arrived. It was fine though; our group had an amazing time and interacted with some splendid people.

In all cases though, Ghana has been lovely thus far and I am excited to begin to work with my community and the amazing people of Ghana.

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