Thursday was such a meaningful day that I have to split it into two separate posts. In the afternoon we were back to the Abura girls' house for the last time. I spent the first hour or so simply reviewing all that we had learned over the past couple of weeks, starting with how to turn on their computers and connect to the Internet-in-a-Box. The girls were quick to remember many of the functions, and I wrote down a list of reminders (what I referred to as a "cheat sheet") for the steps that seemed to give them more of a challenge. Then I asked them one simple question in each of the main Internet-in-a-Box sites (Wikipedia, Khan Academy, Project Gutenberg, OpenStreetMap, RACHEL, CK-12 textbooks, and Powertyping). We also reviewed some of the useful tricks I had taught them during previous lessons, like "ctrl+f" and how to check the battery levels on their computers. We got through it all remarkably fast, and then I gave them a bit of free time to ask any last questions. After we finished up with the computers, we reviewed a "Caring for Your XO-4 Laptop" document that I had written up and printed for them. Before saying goodbye, I left them each some parting gifts, complements of Cardinal Health. I gave each girl a Cardinal Health tote bag and notebook, and the girls were absolutely ecstatic! I think that moment was the most excited I had seen them so far over the past two weeks. The girls and I took a group picture, and then every single one of them wanted to take selfies with me on their XO laptops! They have definitely mastered that application. It's crazy to think that I only met these girls two weeks ago, and it's even crazier to think how timid and quiet they were during that first meeting! The difference between the first and last day was overwhelming. Today, all of the girls were eager to get in their last words and pictures with me, and they all gave me many hugs before I left! It's very sad to leave them all after what feels like such a short time, but I hope that I get the chance to follow their accomplishments in life and see them again someday! Before we left, one of the girls thanked my father and me on behalf of them all and gave us a card, which I did not open until back at Kathryn's house. Reading this card was by far the highlight of my trip, and I am not exaggerating when I say that it was one of the most touching experiences of my life to date. Inside of a very nice store-bought card were handwritten letters, one for me from each of the girls and also for my dad ("Mr. Jeff"). I am not usually one to cry for sentimental reasons, but I had tears in my eyes as I read their words of thanks. No words of my own will do them justice, so here are a few of their sentences: "When you hear the morning rising bell or alarm then it is me who is thanking you." I've always hated the sound of an alarm clock, but now it will never fail to put a smile on my face each morning. Another girl wrote, "I have never dreamed about this precious things you have done for us […] how you got love for us to do this grate things for us, and also how you took your time and have pacience for us to teach us any important things about the laptop. May God bless you, give you long life and good strength to continue what ever you whant to in your future. May God open a brighter future for you, so that you can achive all your aims you whant to achive." It's safe to say that I gained just as much from these girls as I could possibly have given them. For that, I will be eternally grateful.
Today, Thursday, was my last day of teaching at both the Edinaman School and the Abura house, and it was by far the most rewarding day yet. At Edinaman I had the students spent their last lesson learning more about Scratch. After I finished teaching, they brought me to the front of the classroom as one of the students very kindly thanked my father and me on behalf of the students and the school for the work we had done. Then a couple of the teachers said a few words and thanked us for finding the time to come to Ghana, bring the Internet-in-a-Box and other technology to their school, and teaching the students and teachers how to use it. Madam Cynthia, one of the teachers, gave my father, Maureen, and me each a personal gift of locally crafted jewelry, and we all put it on right away! Another one of the teachers reminded his students that I am only seventeen years old, the same age or younger than many of the students in the class. He told his students that I am proof that each of them can change the world for the better by helping others if they truly put their minds to it. I believe that these words of gratitude may very well be the kindest and highest form of praise that I have ever received. Over these past two weeks, all of my hard work over the past months and even years has paid off more than I ever could have imagined, but hearing it put so beautifully into words by these teachers and students was unparalleled. If this wonderful morning wasn't enough, my day continued to get even better!
Today is Republic Day, a national holiday in Ghana, so none of the schools were in sessions. It also happens to be Canada Day! Anyways, it actually worked out well for my teaching at the Abura house because they were home from school all day, so I was able to head over to teach around 10:00 instead of 3:30, as usual. Today's entire lesson was on Wikipedia, and the questions I gave the girls were the trickiest yet! I also gave the girls some time to think of their own questions to ask each other, and they eagerly accepted the challenge! Many of the girls asked questions, with several of the girls even giving out two or three, and the rest of the girls worked diligently until they found all the answers. After teaching, Kathryn, Muhammad, John, and I went out to lunch near the Cape Coast Castle. John used to live at Kathryn's house before relocating for his teaching position, and Muhammad still lives at Kathryn's and works for Anansi. Then we all headed into the market, which was a very interesting place to see! Like any market, it was full of strange sights and smells, but this one included pig legs and dried chameleons! We bought the ingredients for tonight's meal of yam balls and also met Muhammad's mother, who works at the market. It was a very fun, busy day!