The Beginning

I’ll have to recreate this the best I can.  This project has been several years in the making and just now gotten to a point where I feel like I should start writing about it.  I wish I had kept a little better record of events as we were putting things together, but I had no idea what this would turn into.  So, to the best of my recollections this is our story…
 
I met Mr Kweku Atta in my first years at Mendenhall.  Somewhere around 2006 I guess.  He was (and still is) the custodian on my hall, so we would strike up conversations from time to time as he worked in the afternoons.  Eventually I learned that he was from Ghana and we tried, somewhat successfully to set up something where he would share with the students about his home since we studied the Africa and the Eastern Hemisphere.
 
When UNCG ran this story in January of 2010 it opened the door for the beginnings of our project.  It started with my wife and I making a small donation to Mr. Atta to help with shipping costs and turned into Ghana Days later that year.  Students in the 7th grade were assigned to create a project about a specific time period in Ghana\’s history.  We then came together as an entire grade level for two days of presentations and sharing about the history and culture of Ghana.

 
 
The final aspect of Ghana days was an afternoon Survivor tournament among the grade level. Students created teams of their friends and donated a small entry fee to play one of their favorite Physical Education
games.  Students who decided not to play were asked to make small donations to come out and watch.  In the end, no student was excluded and we had an excellent afternoon of games and socializing.  We were able to present Mr. Atta with a check for $550
 
To be continued…

Kweku Atta was instrumental in the building of Community Eleven School Complex before he immigrated to the United States.  He is currently a custodian at Mendenhall Middle School and Building and Environmental Technician at UNCG.  He has been the link and inspiration to create this project.

The Project

Mendenhall Middle School (MMS) of Greensboro, North Carolina is working to create a cultural exchange program with Community Eleven School Complex (CESC) in Tema, Ghana.  Students at Mendenhall are engaging in service learning projects that will benefit the needs of CESC and increase their own global perspectives.  It is our hope that through this exchange both communities will learn from one another while gaining a better understanding of their similarities and differences.

The project entered it’s second phase the first week of December 2012 when Ryan Harwood, Kweku Atta and Robyn Harwood visited CESC to celebrate the official opening of the computer lab and discuss the future of our relationship. Many things were accomplished and celebrated that week and new goals were established.  

Current project initiatives, future initiatives and accomplishments:

  • 15 computers, 2 printers shipped to CESC for establishing computer lab (summer 2012)
    • The computer lab was officially opened during a ceremony we attended on 12.3.12
  • Environmental Club founded at CESC (fall 2012)
    • The Environmental club performed an original skit about the importance of trees during our vist to CESC (12.3.12)
  • Mendenhall and CESC students writing Pivotal Moment essays to exchange and compare (fall 2012)
  • Working with Joyner Elementary (one of our feeder schools) to get them involved in the project (fall 2012)
    • 5th graders from Joyner sent worksheets they completed describing their likes and dislikes.  CESC students will complete their own copies and return them with Mr. Atta.(12.3.12)
  • Obtaining soccer equipment from Soccer.com’s Passback program for distribution at CESC (fall 2012)
    • We successfully delivered three sets of uniforms to CESC along with about 20 balls (12.3.12)
    • We were able to leave over 20 more balls to be distributed by contacts and friends in Accra as areas of need are identified (12.3.12)
  • Working to establish the involvement of Lincoln Community School of Accra, Ghana (fall 2012)
    • Representatives of Lincoln accompanied us on our visit to CESC and shared a lot of good ideas on how they can hopefully get their staff and students involved. (12.3.12)
  • Walling in the school property to protect from encroachment of builders and ensure student safety
    • Committee established to begin investigating the process of walling in the school property (December 2012)
  • Cafeteria area for students to sit and have lunch
  • Internet connection and air conditioning of computer lab
    • The computer lab was networked and connected to the internet in January of 2014.  A very special thanks to my new friend Habeeb and his team at ITFoundationGhana for his tireless work to get the school connected.
  • Educational toys for the kindergarten classes

A Brief History

This project came about from the relationship I’ve established with Mr. Kweku Atta over the past 6 years I’ve spent at Mendenhall Middle School. It has turned into an exciting opportunity to help Community Eleven School Complex.  In December of 2012 we will visit to see the fruits of our labors so far and to plant the seeds for this project to grow.

Hopefully the students of Mendenhall Middle and Community Eleven School Complex will continue to grow through learning and service. Please see the blog entries titled, “The Beginnings” for more details of how this project developed.

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