Senior teaches children in Ghana

Katchel with children in Ghana

Senior Amy Katchel poses with school children in Ghana.

Ben Grant

Staff Reporter

Last year senior Amy Kachel read a campus announcement email about an opportunity to travel to Ghana. Katchel responded, and was selected to travel to a Essiam, small village in Ghana, to teach English to seventh, eighth, and ninth graders for a month during the summer.

The students Katchel would teach were chosen from among the village children to receive a much coveted extra month of education.

There were two reading periods each day. The students were so interested in learning Katchel found they had not only read the available books, but memorized them as well.

Since the student already knew the books, Katchel instead encouraged them to ask her anything. One child, Yao, wanted to know everything there was to know about everything, particularly about the Titanic.

The children also loved to receive letters from pen pals. Said Katchel, “Once a week, the headmaster went to get the mail from the post office. Then he announced who had received a letter and handed it to that child. It was a huge, huge deal when a child received a letter. One letter was like the highlight of that child’s month. Here, with email, cell phones and such we have so many different ways to communicate, and yet something as simple as a letter made these children so happy.”

The schools that Katchel taught in were very basic. They were set up in abandoned warehouses. Blackboards were made out of pieces of wood painted black; there was no running water inside the buildings, and certainly no computers.

In fact, there was one internet café in the entire village, and the connection was so slow that it took Katchel an hour and a half to get her email loaded.

But Katchel treasures her time spent in Ghana, which fit well into her philosophy of life. Shared Katchel, “My goal in life is to see the world and give back as much as possible- in Hebrew it’s called ‘takun olam’, to heal the fractured world; and I cannot wait to go back there one day.”