The new TTT participants have been selected and the next round of the program has officially started! On Oct 14, the 2024 TTT fellows from Ghana, Germany and the US met for the first time in a zoom event, which took place across three different time zones. Above all, there was room for launching the exchange program, so that the fellows had the opportunity to get to know each other in breakout sessions and find their buddies.
Many participants expressed their motivation and hopes for their experience in the program: exchanging ideas and experiences, getting to know different cultures, school systems and ways of teaching, learning from each other, and forming new and lasting friendships.
During winter term, they will intensify their collaboration by working together in smaller groups digitally over the next months. In February 2024, the fellows will meet in person for the first time, when the German fellows travel to the respective Study Camps in Chapel Hill (US) and Winneba (Ghana). In June 2024, the participants from all three countries will finally come together at the Study Camp in Hamburg.
Sitting on a flight from New York to Denmark, I could hardly contain my excitement, and my nervousness. I had never been outside of my home country of the United States, and I was overwhelmed with the realization that I was on my first international trip. What would the food, culture, and schools in Germany look like? Will I get lost trying to navigate a vastly different public transportation system? What will living with a host family be like? My thoughts were racing even as I traveled via train from Denmark to Hamburg. Participating in the TTT Program was a major moment for stepping outside of my comfort zone, trying new experiences, and overcoming challenges. Little did I know on that first day just how impactful my participation in the TTT program would be, not only for my professional growth as an educator, but also for my personal development!
Although I was nervous about experiencing an entirely new country for the first time, I couldn’t help but take in my surroundings with awe. The architecture, nature, and modes of transportation were vastly different from what I know back in North Carolina. I quickly fell in love with the city of Hamburg, making sure to spend every day of the program exploring something new! With the support from my host family and my TTT buddy, I quickly learned how to use the public transport, tried new local foods, and was able to sight-see often. Living with my wonderful host family, I was rapidly immersed into the culture, becoming familiar with the German language, foods, and customs. I strongly believe that living with a host family helped me acclimate to my surroundings easier and better prepared me to enter a German elementary classroom. As a participant in the TTT program, I not only got to learn about the culture within Germany, but also the cultures within Ghana. The program allowed me to cultivate relationships with peers from Hamburg and Winneba, which led to a beautiful exchange of ideas and storytelling.
As a soon-to-be 4th grade teacher in North Carolina, I was fortunate to be placed in a 4th grade classroom at my TTT school placement. I intended to take note of any similarities to schools in the US, as well as find inspiration for things I could do differently with my students in the US. My first impressions of the classroom were overwhelming, as I not only had to overcome a language barrier, but I also witnessed an entirely different school structure. There were more breaks during the day, more breakfast times, and students followed their classroom teachers up from 1st grade to 4th grade. I noticed that teachers seemed to have more agency and creativity in their lesson planning, and I enjoyed seeing the dynamic between teacher and student in my placement. I gained new classroom management techniques, project ideas, and a lasting professional connection with my mentor teacher! My work within my school placement was inspiring, and I hope to implement what I have learned into my classroom this fall! Being selected to participate in the TTT program is one of the most moving experiences of my life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to enrich my learning through the wonderful TTT Fellows.
This was the last week at the Germany study camp and so not many engagements were organized for us as a group since we had to wrap things up at our school of observation and with our host families. This notwithstanding, we have on here a concise report of our group engagements at the Germany study camp of this week.
Song share event
On the 12th of June, 2023, a Monday, after our scheduled school observation engagement and although not mandatory, we (2023 university of Education, Winneba-Tricontinental Teacher Training Exchange Programme participants) joined Dr. Anja Wilken’s song share event from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Room 221 of the Asia-Africa-Institute building. We had the opportunity to teach them our school anthem and one popular fante gospel song, learnt various songs of theirs and together created a unifying song which comprises of the German, Spanish, Twi and English language; the content of the song basically conveys the message of sameness, in that, no race is superior or inferior in comparison. That, regardless of our skin colour, we are one people. The day’s activity began with a voice reviving session where Dr. Anja led us to sing a song made with the names of numbers from one up to ten both in English language and in Twi language. Ascendingly, we began from one up to ten and then quickly descended from the number we ended on to the last number.
Right after the voice reviving session, Dr. Anja led us to sing the unifying song. She divided us into groups of different voice pitches or vocal ranges: alto, mezzo-soprano, bass and tenor as we learned how to sing the song and after a near perfection of singing, she recorded us singing the song. A recording of us singing was done throughout our singing session; every song we sang was recorded. We (the 2023 UEW-TTT participants), led by Emmanuella then proceeded to teach the group the UEW song and the meaning of the song as we sung. The UNC-TTT (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) leader, Taylor Schmidt, also taught us their school song after which, we, the 2023 UEW-TTT participants led by Emma taught the group another song titled “N’ahendzi Fata No”. Dr. Anja led us to the closure of the programme by teaching us a new song titled “Veloma Masina”. After all was done, we said our last goodbyes to the various participants of the song share event and we took photographs as a memory.
A meeting with Prof. Dampson
On the 13th of June, 2023, we, the 2023 UEW-TTT participants met with Prof. Dandy Dampson for the first time at the Germany study camp to reflect on our journey and experiences gained up to that moment, starting from how we got to know about the programme up to the moment of arriving at the study camp, which required a detailed account of how we got to know about the programme; how we were selected to be part of this year’s TTT exchange programme: processes that we went through to be selected; our challenges at the commencement of the programme through to the end of the programme, that is from the period of the Digital Meeting Point (DMP) then to the period of engagements at the Winneba study camp through to our engagements at the Germany study camp; what kept us going: the factors that made us press on and not give up along the way; the kind of relationship that existed between us and our host families and for those of us who did not have host families, how we were able to adjust and adapt to the unfamiliar settings to have a comfortable stay or if there were challenges due to us not having host families and having to lodge at a hostel; our experience with our buddies during the DMP period, at the Winneba study camp and now at the Germany study camp; some of the cultural shocks we had in Germany; the things that are quite different from what we know back at home and are impacting our lives or which have changed our perspective of teaching and to an extent our view of life, then, the new thing(s) we are taking with us to foster smooth engagements of our future endeavours, lastly, we suggested some key factors that can additionally help or be done to ensure the progress of the programme.
We were then applauded by Prof. Dandy for our level of commitment and hard work in making this year’s programme a success. He then ended the meeting with words of advice and encouragement, admonishing us to make good use of the experiences gained from this programme so as to contribute our quota to the world’s vision of providing high quality and lifelong education. Presumably, this engagement was crucial to ensure sustainability of the programme since our responses will necessitate in depth reflection and evaluation of the overall activities of the programme to make substitutions where needed and also add some pertinent and brilliant ideas or engagements that will foster the longevity and sustainability of the programme.
The last seminar
Just like the ending of every programme may be; reflecting and encapsulating all the happenings during the entire event so as to deduce the salient and essential phenomena, so did this last reflection seminar of the TTT programme at the Germany study camp intend to be. On the 14th of June, 2023, at about 3:00pm, all participants and coordinators of the programme met at the Faculty of Education block to summarise all our observations and experiences by concretizing all ideas, opinions and views through the use of realistic images, artifacts or any object to aid visualization which will foster a higher level of comprehension. In a bid to stimulate ourselves and foster coordination and critical thinking skills, the day’s event began with a particular raucous team building rope game, specifically the moving the box game where all persons around held on to each stretch of an interconnected rope in a circular formation to retrieve any of the objects placed in the centre of the formation and place it on the top object in order after a successful retrieval without anyone touching the ground. After that, the various activities for the day’s event were made known to us and then we proceeded to kick-start the first activity or engagement outside the faculty block.
The first activity began with each member of the first group of common opinion or view of their identified or observed distinctiveness, similarity and variations among the three countries’ (Ghana, Germany and USA) educational pedagogies, policies, practices, methodologies and instruments, each group being called to stand in front of all persons gathered, each member of each group was made to pictorially and concretely express their views and observation about the similarity, distinctiveness among the three countries’ educational system and practices.
Immediately after this engagement, manila cards or papers were pasted on the wall for all persons to inscribe their suggestions or recommendations, challenges and insight gained during the observation and reflection period.
We then proceeded to the final activity inside the meeting room where all groups had their pictures concretizing their view of each of the three countries’ remembrance and commemoration culture. In rotation, each of the groups moved in succession from one point to the other leaving behind one representative to pictorially explain the group’s view on the remembrance and commemoration culture of all the three countries.
The Farewell event at Hamburg
On the 16th of June, 2023, a Friday, the Tricontinental Teacher Training Exchange Programme at the Germany study camp officially came to an end which necessitated a celebratory event that will give all of us the chance and time to show appreciation to the programme coordinators, host families and participants for their time, dedication, show of love and for the opportunity to be part of this highly educative programme that has had great positive impact on our lives and has shaped our view on education. And also to revisit the memories and bond created and assure ourselves of our effort to ensure the sustainability of the relationship created. The programme started at exactly 5 pm and it included all participants, alumni, all coordinators and host families. Before the programme officially began, various songs from diverse countries were played and there was the provision of food and drinks for everyone to refresh themselves with. Not too long from the casual starting time, Prof. Telse Iwers addressed the house and she informed of the purpose of the various brown envelopes pasted on the wall of the auditorium. The envelopes had on each of them the names of every one of us and in them anyone could leave their farewell message for anyone. Prof. Telse cautioned us from writing any derogatory message to anyone but rather the message should be in a form of compliment, advice, well wishes etc. After the address by Prof. Telse, the celebration continued for some time before the sharing of the certificates of participation started. Pictures were taken of each and every one during the sharing and collection of the certificates. After a while, Dr. Anja took over and ensured all participants together with their host families went outside to take pictures for memory purposes and it was all fun. After the picture-taking engagement, we all came back to the auditorium to continue the celebration. The rest of the evening was all merry and enjoyment till the last person left the room for the program to officially come to its successful end.
The last day at Hamburg
Indeed, there is time for everything: a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. All too soon, the highly educative, engaging and exhilarating programme at the Germany study camp had come to an end and it was time for us to go back home to successfully complete our academic endeavor. Therefore, on the 18th of June, 2023, some of our host families, UNC-TTT coordinator: Taylor, some of our buddies and some friends from the DiCoT programme escorted us to the Hamburg airport at about 5:30 am. They patiently waited for us to go through all security scrutiny successfully before they left us to journey back home. Honestly, we have always been pleased and appreciative of the level of care and love shown to us by our host families, our buddies and the programme coordinators throughout our days at the Germany study camp but the level of astonishment and gratitude that emanated from seeing some of our host families, buddies, UNC-TTT coordinator: Taylor going all out in seeing to it that we had a smooth check-in process by helping us with our luggage, attending to the airline passenger service assistants on our behalf to clarify some confusion due to language barriers and waiting patiently for hours just to ensure our departure was smooth is beyond description. After we were all set, we together with our host families, buddies and Taylor took our last group photograph and bid our goodbyes. It was quite an emotional moment for us all.
At about 7:30 am we left Hamburg and arrived at Istanbul airport at about 11:50 am. We had to wait for about an hour and half at the Istanbul airport before we were able to see the boarding gate for Turkish airlines going to Accra. So we waited and at about 1:00 pm we got to see the boarding gate number displayed on their information screen which signaled the need to proceed to the security check point so as to board the flight on time. Quite unfortunately, we missed our way trying to locate the exact immigration check point to go through for scrutiny due to how huge the Istanbul airport is, having several immigration check points. However, after several minutes of struggle, we were able to find the immigration check point for the range of boarding gates which our boarding gate fell in. We arrived at Accra Kotoka International Airport at about 6:50 pm and waited for an hour to claim our luggage and then went through the final immigration scrutiny process afterwards. After all was settled and done, most of us were conveyed back to Winneba with the university bus while few of us went home to pick up some essential belongings needed for school before we went back to campus.
This week was scheduled to be a “flexi week”. It means that all participants of the Tricontinental Teacher Training program are expected to visit different schools other than our usual internship school. This provided us with the opportunity to explore different schools and experience different pedagogies and to enjoy the beautiful city of Hamburg. The schools of visit were Gymnasium Farmsen and Gymnasium Klosterschule, and some also visited their German buddies’ school.
On Monday 5th June, 2023, a group of UNC (University of North Carolina) and UEW (University of Education, Winneba) buddies visited Gymnasium Farmsen School. We were welcomed by Konrad Pahlke, who was our mentor for the day. He had invited us to his school to reflect and share our experiences at the KZ-memorial Neuengamme with his students and to observe a history lesson with his class. During the lesson, Mr. Konrad (class teacher for day) grouped his students into four (4) and asked the TTT buddies to join each group for the presentation. The TTT buddies switched to different groups after each presentation session so as to benefit from all the four groups. They presented on the topics of the French and Russian Revolution, and their impact.
Participants came together in group sessions that focused on a single topic. Within each group, every student/buddy contributed thoughts and ideas that encouraged discussion and collaboration among us within each group.
Seminar on history and post colonialism by Prof. Dr. Andreas Körber: German History and Memory Culture(s) and History Education
On Tuesday 6th June, 2023, all TTT buddies gathered for a lecture by Prof. Andreas Körber on the German history and post colonialism. There was massive student participation as we shared our experiences and asked critical questions for which Prof. Körber was ready to assist us.
Hamburg (and Germany) History and Memory Culture is characterized by a set of thematic complexes which do not easily interrelate. Germany as such is often considered a “late nation” having been unified to a “nation state” in the late 19th century only, from a very large set of independent territories (kingdoms, principalities, free towns, church territories, etc.) via several steps in the 19th century – long after other European countries like Spain, France etc.
This was finally brought about by Otto von Bismarck’s initiation of a war with France, against which the remaining states united. Pride in unification (as an empire) therefore is one motif of public memory culture, especially in monuments etc. from the turn of 19th to 20th century.
In 1914, the German Empire again incited a war it believed was imminent nevertheless, what came to be “the World War” – number one, as we now count it – and lost in 1918, after which a revolution took place, Germany became a democratic republic (Weimar), the emperor was forced abroad.
In 1933, Germany again experienced a stark change: National Socialism (the Nazis), a right wing political stream, which in part connected to the old (empire-true) right, but more so to Fascist ultra-nationalist ideas, and had a very strong anti-Semitic ideology, came to power (or took over), and overthrew the democratic republic into a totalitarian dictatorship – albeit the majority of Germans seem to have consented, while part of the population, especially Jewish (both Germans and foreign), Sinti and Roma, but also political adversaries (communists, social democrats, and others) were brutally persecuted, discriminated against, many killed etc. – Germany was to become “judenfrei” (clear of all Jewish people).
Germany built several monuments to commemorate those who were persecuted and in some cases killed. Here are some of the monuments serving as remembrance:
These children groups commemorate hundreds of transports of children and young people who left the Hanseatic city from November 1938 to August 1939 from the “Gau Groß-Hamburg” and the entire “German Reich” by ships and from train stations. They travelled unaccompanied by their parents to countries whose language and culture they did not know, thus survived the shoa.
Some of the critical observation we made during the tour include the following:
University of Hamburg was founded in the year 1919 after the First World War.
Germany was divided into two; the western Germany (France and Italy allies) and the eastern Germany (Serbia ally).
After the Second World War, some of the Jewish were driven away, others took their own lives and some emigrated.
This year Hamburg commemorated 80 years of being destroyed during the Second World War.
Some Jewish also died in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp.
Now, there are two Jewish communities in Hamburg.
On 9th November every year, University of Hamburg holds a ceremony to commemorate those who died.
There is an ongoing discussion in Hamburg as to whether they remember the victims enough.
Wednesday 7th June, 2023
As we always have it on our schedule, we had a reflective seminar together with all buddies from UNC, UEW and UHH. The previous week was full of excursions and trips so it was prudent we have this reflection. We all contributed immensely our experiences from the visit to Neuengamme, a trip to Berlin and the post-colonial (History of Germany) tour with Prof. Dr. Andreas Körber. We were also given an activity to work in our DMP groups.
Visit to Winterhuder Reformschule
On Friday 9th June, 2023, a group of TTT fellows led by Michael (former TTT participant) visited Winterhuder Reformschule. The experiences we had from the school are as follows:
Experiences from the school
Project learning: people choose their own projects through the assistance of their teacher. Children decide their own work schedule at least two projects a year.
No grading until age 8.
Report cards are provided to students but do not form the bases for someone to be promoted to the next grade. The teacher has no power to make a student repeat a grade, but students can always skip a grade level depending on his/her intellectual ability.
Just like what we observed in different schools, Winterhuder Reformschule is an all-inclusive school that admits even students from different countries including refugees. The school has special education teachers and a guidance and counseling unit that addresses the needs of each child in the school. Each class is called by names of different kinds of animals. No specific reasons were given for the naming but for easy identification.
Most often, the class goes on a trip for probably a couple of days.
Fridays are usually for sporting activities.
Winterhuder Reformschule has a student population of over 1200 and 147 teachers as well.
A day trip to Lübeck
On Saturday 10th June, 2023, Dr. Markus Friederici led a group of TTT buddies to Lübeck to explore some historical sites and monuments that serve as remembrance. This trip was made optional per our weekly schedule, so only those who were interested embarked on the journey.
During the tour around the town, we learnt that Lübeck was known for commercial salt production. Meat and other food were processed using salt in the absence of other products. The town attracted a lot of people and served as a center for trade. Due to this, officials usually collected tax at the entrance of Lübeck before anyone was allowed inside the town. Lübeck is also called city of the seven peaks because of the slope of the town. Lübeck was beautiful, prosperous and bigger than Hamburg.
During the second week of our stay in Germany, we had numerous opportunities to learn and experience new things. The week was filled with a variety of exciting moments that left us with a deeper understanding of Germany’s history and culture, as well as a greater appreciation for the diversity and inclusivity. We visited Neuengamme, Stadtteilschule Mümmelmannsberg and Berlin with the aim of acquiring a more profound comprehension of the verifiable and social setting of Germany and how it tends to be integrated into teaching and learning.
Visit to Neuengamme
We went to Neuengamme, a former Hamburg concentration camp in the Bergedorf neighborhood, on Thursday, June 1, 2023. In the north of Germany, you will find a location of historical significance. During World War II, the Neuengamme concentration camp was located there. One of the largest Nazi concentration camps, Neuengamme was a significant factor in the systematic persecution and annihilation of various groups by the Nazi regime. The camp was established in 1938 and became a central hub for imprisoning and exploiting political dissidents, Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other marginalized groups. It expanded over time to include satellite camps, and thousands of prisoners endured unimaginable suffering within its confines.
The visit was an emotional and sobering experience, as we were confronted with the horrors of the Holocaust and the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. A knowledgeable guide gave us a brief orientation and an overview of the camp’s history and significance, she also led us through the camp’s remaining structures and explained their historical context. We visited the original camp entrance, the prisoner barracks, and the remnants of various buildings. The guide shared stories of the prisoners‘ daily routines, the inhumane treatment they faced, and the tragic events that unfolded within the camp.
The dehumanizing conditions that the prisoners were kept in, such as forced labor and medical experiments, were something that we were able to witness firsthand. We were also given the chance to think about our own emotions and experiences and relate to the victims‘ stories. The visit to Neuengamme filled in as a strong sign of the significance of advancing harmony, and resilience against extremism.
An example of the carriage that brought prisoners to camp and footsteps of some prisoners.
Visit to Stadtteilschule Mümmelmannsberg
On Friday 2nd June 2023, we visited Stadtteilschule Mümmelmannsberg, a Hamburg school that has been at the forefront of promoting diversity and inclusive education. The tour of the school served as the first part of the visit, allowing us to observe the various teaching strategies employed by the teachers to foster a culture of mutual respect. We were able to see firsthand how teachers supported students from a variety of backgrounds and how the school’s curriculum prioritized diversity and inclusion. We also had the opportunity to interact with the students and learn about their experiences and perspectives. We were able to see how the students‘ experiences were shaped by their backgrounds and how the school provided support and resources to help them succeed. According to our student tour guide, the school’s painting was in memory of the owner of the school. Beginning our tour, we first went to the infirmary and then the playground. The classes of the school start from the fifth grade to tenth grade. The international section of the school has learners from other countries and the German language is mostly learnt. The school has different facilities including three libraries (two for students and one for teachers), two music rooms, a special education section, a spacious kitchen, a psychological room (for foreign students), three football pitches of different sizes and a zoo. The visit to the school highlighted the importance of creating safe and inclusive spaces for students and the need to promote diversity and understanding in education.
Trip to Berlin
On Saturday June 3, we again traveled from Hamburg to Berlin for a day trip to explore the history and culture of the city. The trip included visits to several important sites, including the Place of Memorial, the Reichstag, the Holocaust Monuments, and Tempelhof Feld. The trip was designed to provide an opportunity for us to learn about the history and culture of Germany and to deepen our understanding of issues related to human rights and social justice. The first stop on the trip was the Place of Memorial, a site dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. As we walked through the site, there were the stories of the victims. Each one tells a unique story of the Holocaust. Some of the pieces were abstract, while others were more literal, depicting the horrors of the concentration camps and the suffering of the Jewish people. We then visited the Reichstag, the historic building that houses the German parliament. The building has a rich history, having been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the course of the 20th century. We were given a tour of the building, including the famous glass dome that sits atop the structure. The dome provides a panoramic view of the city and is an impressive architectural feat. We learned about the history of the Reichstag, including its role in World War II and the Cold War. We also learned about the current workings of the German parliament and the importance of democratic institutions in modern society.
The next stop on the trip was the Holocaust Monuments, a collection of memorials and museums dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust. We visited several sites, including the Jewish Museum, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the Topography of Terror Museum. At the Jewish Museum, we explored the history and culture of Jewish life in Germany and learned about the contributions of Jewish people to German society. We also learned about the persecution and discrimination faced by Jewish people during the Holocaust and the importance of celebrating diversity and promoting social justice. At the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, we saw the iconic field of concrete slabs, which is meant to symbolize the enormity of the loss of life during the Holocaust. The final stop on the outing was Tempelhof Feld, a previous air terminal that has been changed into a recreational area. With a variety of outdoor events and activities, the park is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. While taking in the sounds and sights of the city, we spent some time exploring the park. Additionally, we had the chance to discuss the significance of promoting social justice and human rights in our work as educators and reflect on the lessons we had learned throughout the day.
Overall, the second week was an enriching and transformative experience for the TTT participants. The visit to Neuengamme served as a stark reminder of the importance of promoting peace and tolerance, while the visit to Stadtteilschule Mümmelmannsberg highlighted the importance of creating safe and inclusive spaces for students. The visit to Berlin provided participants a deeper comprehension of Germany’s history and culture, as well as the significance of fostering tolerance and diversity in education and society as a whole.
The first week in Hamburg was dedicated to getting acclimated and adjusting to the new environment. Relocating from familiar surroundings to unfamiliar territory required a rapid understanding of the local system and adapting to it. The journey to Hamburg was not without its own challenges. On May 21, 2023, at 12 o’clock noon, the exchange program’s ten participants embarked on voyage. We were accompanied to Kotoka International Airport by Mr. Twumasi Anderson, a lecturer. As a group, our team encountered numerous frustrations during airport procedures. The passport control and immigration officers in Ghana bombarded us with multiple inquiries. Even after presenting all the required documents at the Ghanaian embassy, they still detained us and subjected us to additional inspections. We were subsequently permitted to proceed to the waiting area and await our flight.
Our initial stop was Istanbul, where we caught our connecting flight to Hamburg on 22nd May, 2023. Eventually, we arrived in Hamburg Airport and had the opportunity to meet the project coordinators, host families, German buddies, and participants from the Diversity Contexts in Teacher Education (DiCoT) exchange program.
The second day of our program was dedicated to exploring the University of Hamburg and attending a special event to welcome the visiting universities. Lina, the tour guide, provided us with invaluable assistance during the tour. Our first stop was the Faculty of Education. It was established in 1969 with the aim of promoting teacher education in Germany. Next, we proceeded to the Faculty of Humanities, followed by the Faculty of Law, which was established in 1919. Notably, only students from the Faculty of Law are permitted entry, and they must carry transparent bags as a requirement. Subsequently, we proceeded to Audimax 2, which holds the distinction of being the largest lecture hall in Germany, capable of accommodating up to 5000 students. Near to Joseph-Carlebach-Platz, there is a Jews‘ school, which is currently under police protection due to concerns of potential attacks from citizens, albeit such incidents have never occurred in the past. Our next destination was the Faculty of Science and Social Studies. Here we encountered an artwork depicting the lifestyle and autonomy of the Jewish community, among others. Lastly, we explored the university’s main building, generously donated by Edmund J.A. Siemers and in collaboration with various research institutions, although the exact number of institutions involved was not disclosed to us. After an extensive tour of the campus, we were greeted with a welcome speech from the Dean of the Faculty of Educational Studies, Professor Dr. Eva Arnold, followed by Vice Dean Professor Telse Iwers. Distinguished Professors from the University of North Carolina (UNC) also delivered a speech. During the event, Professor Telse explained the vision of the exchange program and what they expect each participant to offer in pushing the agenda of the project.
At the event, we expressed our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the tireless efforts and unwavering dedication of the Tricontinental Teacher Training Coordinators. It was a privilege for us to honor these exceptional individuals who have played a vital role in shaping the future of education in our tricontinental communities. They have been at the forefront of providing training and guidance, ensuring that educators are well equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge to deliver quality education to their students. Their commitment to improving teaching methodologies, fostering inclusivity and promoting educational excellence is truly commendable. After giving them our presents, we engaged in some enjoyable activities. We played games and then indulged in some food and beverages. Additionally, the program in week one highlighted the significance of continuous professional development and staying abreast of educational trends and research. Listening to the speech from our noble professors, our goal is to remain lifelong learners, actively seek professional development opportunities, attend conferences and engage in ongoing learning communities. Our objective is to stay knowledgeable and consistently enhance our teaching methods, with the goal of delivering the highest quality education to our students and making meaningful contributions to the progress of the education sector.
During the Study Camp in Hamburg, all incoming Fellows did a school internship at one of our partner schools. In addition, they had the opportunity to visit other schools and get a more diverse picture of the German education system. Konrad Pahlke, a dedicated history teacher at Gymnasium Farmsen (GyFa), who is also committed in the TTT project, invited a group of Fellows to his history class of the bilingual profile at his school. They discussed various topics with the students, especially the Fellows’ visit to the KZ-memorial Neuengamme. The class has published an article – in English – on their school website to this enriching visit. You can find the article as well as some photos under the following link: https://gymnasium-farmsen.de/african-and-american-university-students-in-the-bilingual-profile/
In diesem informativen Blogpost beschreiben zwei unserer TTT-Alumni ihre Erfahrungen mit dem Projekt. Vielen Dank für diesen tollen Beitrag, Hirbod und Nana, den wir unseren Blog-LeserInnen nicht vorenthalten wollen!
After our first week was mostly settling in, adjusting to the New cultural surroundings, and getting used to the climate, the second week was packed with sports activities and first teaching experiences. Furthermore, our buddies as well as some children in the schools taught us more and more words of the local languages like Fante and Twi.
Previous TTT participants suggested that we should participate in some extracurricular activities to engage in the campus life, so we decided to check out Handball, Tennis, and Football training. By now, we exchanged contacts with multiple university sport coaches and are regulars in their afternoon training programs. Sports are not only important in our leisure time but also during our school internship because all the schools will compete in a big inter-school tournament at the beginning of March. This means that the children are very excited to compete and highly motivated to represent their respective schools on the pitch.
However, this sometimes leads to changes in their timetables when lessons are “suddenly” canceled and replaced by a sport program. Whenever lessons are taking place, we further observe Ghanaian teaching practices and also taught some first lessons ourselves.
The first full week at school showed that children are mostly supposed to listen to what the teacher is saying and only participate in class when they answer closed questions from time to time. The teacher is always present and gives theoretical input, even in subjects like science or information technology that are highly practical in our German school system. There is no differentiation in teaching material that would cater to the individual students‘ needs. Furthermore, as a group, we were surprised that various schools are lacking basic infrastructure like proper washrooms and pupils sometimes don’t even have exercise books. There are no printed worksheets either because the teachers would have to pay for the printing and the paper.
Our host families keep assisting us in every day needs and are always keen on teaching us Ghanaian values and traditions. For example, we learned that it is really important on which week day you were born. Family members will usually call you by these names at home. Some of them took us to the tailor at the Central Campus to look for some fabrics and patterns for clothing. Additionally, “Pearl Richard”, who is a good friend of one of our mentors, showed us some hand-made bracelets, anklets, and necklaces. We could even tell him what we wanted and he would make them specifically how we wanted them to look.
To reflect on the first two weeks of the program, a debriefing was scheduled on Thursday afternoon. This meeting turned out to differ from what we expected. We imagined it to be a meeting that focuses on our reflection of experience, culture shocks, and tackle whatever problems had occurred. Instead, the focus was rather on what the different existing as well as upcoming programs are about. So, besides the TTT students from Germany and Ghana, the DiCoT students and their buddies were also present. This made the meeting a bit too inflated. We hope that there will be a possibility to do a more personal reflection in the upcoming week–maybe with Prof. Telse.
On Saturday, we visited historic cultural sites in the Central Region such as Cape Coast Castle, Assin Manso Slave Market, and the Kakum national park. Our alarms sounded way before sunrise as we had to leave from the university campus at 5 a.m. in the morning. After nearly three hours of driving, we arrived at our first destination: The Assin Manso Slave Market. This place served as a trade point for slaves coming from all across West Africa. They were led there to bath and then get sold. After being sold, many of them were brought to Cape Coast Castle to be shipped to the Americas. That was the place, that we visited afterwards. A guide presented us the dark history of the place. It shocked us that every chamber of the dungeon (see the picture below) held 200 male slaves. They stayed there between two and twelve weeks before being loaded onto the ships. One of the most memorable moments was, when the guide switched off the light to give us a very brief impression of the how the slaves felt in the dungeon.
Between the Slave Market and Cape Coast Castle we explored the Kakum National Park. There is a canopy walk above the jungle which we went on. Furthermore some of us tried their first coconut – what a great taste! So, the day was filled with Ghanaian history, culture and nature – emotional, informative and thought-provoking.
Now we’re looking forward to week three, expecting Prof. Telse, a cooking competition and further insides to the Ghanian school system.
Halbzeit! Wenn das jetzt ein amerikanischer Sport wäre, kämen jetzt mindestens 20 Minuten Werbung. Anyways, jetzt sind wir schon 2 Wochen hier und haben uns ziemlich gut eingelebt. In der ersten Woche haben wir alle Leute kennengelernt, die von der amerikanischen Seite im TTT-Programm involviert sind. Taylor hat sich viel Zeit für uns genommen und kleine Problemchen hier und da mit gigantischem Engagement gelöst. Von ihm haben wir eine inoffizielle Tour des UNC-Campus bekommen und kurz darauf auch noch eine offizielle von zwei Studierenden der Uni. Bei einer der Gastfamilien haben wir direkt am ersten Abend eine SuperBowl-Party gefeiert und am Tag darauf das Basketballteam der Uni im großen Stadion beim wichtigen Heimspiel angefeuert. Das Wetter war dabei immer auf unserer Seite, letzte Woche hatten wir 28 Grad (Celsius) und Sonnenschein wie in Hamburg nur selten im Sommer.
In den folgenden Tagen erhielten wir einen Eindruck in das hiesige Schulsystem. Dies beinhaltete beeindruckende Touren der Privatschule „Carolina Friends School“ und einer Charter School in Durham. Einen Tag waren wir mit unseren Buddies in deren Schulen, diese befinden sich nämlich gerade in der letzten Phase des Studiums und sind jeden Tag als Student-Teachers am Unterrichten.
Seit letztem Montag sind wir dann in unseren Schul-Placements. Dabei sind uns 3 Haupt-Unterschiede zum Unterricht in deutschen Schulen aufgefallen, die da wären:
Unterrichtsgestaltung: Die ersten Schultage waren nicht nur aufgrund der vielfältigen Eindrücke anstrengend, wir mussten uns auch an einen anderen Tagesablauf gewöhnen. Jeder Tag (oder an manchen Schulen jeder zweite) folgt dem gleichen Stundenplan. Wir sind Mentor:innen zugeteilt, die ein Fach unterrichten. Das bedeutet, dass wir jeden Tag in mehreren Klassen hintereinander den gleichen Unterricht sehen. Wenn es dann im Englischunterricht jede Stunde eine „independent reading time“ gibt, kann das ganz schön ermüdend sein. Wenn der Unterrichtsraum dann auch noch mitten im Gebäude liegt und keine Fenster hat, wird ein Schultag von 08:55-16:00 mit nur einer Pause plötzlich ganz schön lang. Positiv überrascht hat uns die:
Lehrer-Schülerbeziehung: Der Umgang zwischen den Lehrpersonen und Schüler:innen ist hier wesentlich informeller. Sozio-emotionales Lernen ist ein elementarer Bestandteil in der Ausbildung der amerikanischen Lehrer:innen. Das resultiert zum Beispiel darin, dass Schüler:innen sich wohl fühlen, den Lehrer:innen private Probleme anzuvertrauen und dass Unterrichtsgespräche auch nicht immer auf den aktuellen Inhalten aufbauen. Das führt uns auch schon zu dem dritten großen Unterschied:
Lernatmosphäre: Diese Gespräche sind nur ein Beispiel dafür, dass während des Unterrichts nicht immer, bzw. nicht für alle, Schule stattfindet. Immer wieder schlafen Schüler:innen im Unterricht, häufig wird am Handy oder Laptop gespielt, begleitet durch Rufe durch den Klassenraum. Erstaunlicherweise scheint das einige Lehrer:innen nicht zu berühren, sie haben mit Herausgeben des Arbeitsauftrags ihren Job quasi getan. Ab diesem Zeitpunkt sind die Schüler:innen für ihr eigenes Lernen selbst verantwortlich. Die laufende Mitarbeit im Unterricht wird nicht bewertet, die Note setzt sich nur aus Tests und Hausaufgaben zusammen. (Diese dürfen wiederholt werden, wenn den Schüler:innen „die Note nicht gefällt“)
Damit geht es jetzt in die zweite Hälfte, in der wir weiterhin in den Schulen sein werden. Als Ausgleich dazu haben sich unsere Buddies einige großartige Aktivitäten für Feierabende und Wochenenden einfallen lassen.
Wir freuen uns auf die restliche Zeit in Chapel Hill!