Fourth week in Chapel Hill

The last week in Chapel Hill has dawned, and we are amazed at how quickly the time has flown by. It seems as if we had just arrived yesterday. Reflecting on the past days, we realize how rich in great experiences our time here was. Yet, the end has not yet come, and we are fully enjoying the last days in the college town – at our schools, on campus, and with our buddies and host families.

On Monday, most of the group‘s participants took part in a discussion with Priscilla Layne, a professor of German at the University of North Carolina and an author. Professor Layne has recently collaborated with German author and illustrator Birgit Weyhe to publish a graphic novel based on Layne‘s life story. The book hadn’t been published in English yet but we had all gotten to read „ Rude Girl“ beforehand nonetheless. Albeit it wasn’t mandatory, most of us had read the book front-to-back as we enjoyed it and got invested in the story.

The event started with a presentation that Layne gave us to summarize her lifestory, including some personal  photographs, thereby adding on to the book‘s content. The book „Rude Girl“ centers around the theme of identity and the interests, preferences and influences that shape it. Afterwards, we – the German TTT students – and some professors from the University of Carolina asked her questions, all of which she answered kindly and openly. Some of the questions centered on her unique perspective of growing up as a Black American who developed an

intellectual curiosity for German(y). Other questions covered the topics of having one’s own life experiences published and the collaboration between two intellectuals. She also talked about the punk scene, what it means to grow up middle-class and how isolating it felt to be a nerdy Black girl who didn’t fulfill people’s expectations.

It was an honor to meet Priscilla Layne and to get to hear her talk about her life after reading her impressive biography. We also all enjoyed the snacks and refreshments provided for us, which were especially appreciated since some of us came straight from their U.S. school observation.

Another highlight of the week was the „Global Connections“ event at Smith Middle School, which had been a topic of conversation among teachers and students for weeks. This celebration, jointly organized by students, teachers, and families, aimed to honor and celebrate the diverse cultural backgrounds within the school community. With great commitment, classrooms were designed to reflect the participants‘ countries of origin, with lovingly crafted information posters and traditional elements that invited discovery and wonder. Culinary samples were also provided. For instance, we had the opportunity to taste Isidudu in „South Africa“. It is a traditional maize porridge called Pap, served either with stewed vegetables or beef. It was delicious and introduced us to a world of new spices. Among other things, a teacher offered homemade sweets for sale. There we had the best brownie of our lives!

In the auditorium, impressive dance performances took place at regular intervals. For example, students enchanted the audience with a Bollywood dance, while other groups danced to K-Pop. A Japanese drumming group created a captivating atmosphere with their performance that made the walls tremble.

„Global Connections“ was an undisputed success, filling the school’s hallways with a throng of lively and curious people. You could literally grasp the open-minded and committed mood, showing how eager everyone was to learn more about other countries and cultures. It was a moving experience to see the school offer a platform for all cultures, thereby promoting acceptance, inclusion, and a sense of community. We are convinced that such events should also be held regularly in German schools. Mutual exchange and learning from each other offer invaluable values that form the foundation of any open and inclusive society. And if we don’t lay this foundation in school, where else?

Wednesday was our last day at our school placements. We left our mentor teachers and students with mixed feelings – proud of ourselves to have yet accomplished another step towards becoming teachers, relieved to get some more free time in between semesters, but also sad to say goodbye to new companions on our journey.

Before saying goodbye to our American TTT-fellows, we met for a BBQ-night at Peabody Hall. Heavy rain was supposed to come our way, but we didn’t let it stop us and decided to meet inside for a nice Carolinian BBQ-Buffet. Our mentor Taylor ordered all the typical dishes, such as coleslaw, hushpuppies, mac-n-cheese, cream spinach, pulled pork, beef briskets, burger buns and lots of BBQ-sauce. The highlight was the desert, the infamous banana pudding.

After 4 weeks of many appointments, long school days and intense seminar sessions, it was very nice to meet everyone and to have time to talk, eat and relax together. The Carolinian BBQ is quite different from ours at home, so we already discussed introducing our guests to a “German BBQ” in Hamburg.

The final goodbyes arrived way to soon, so we’re all very much looking forward to our second Study Camp in Hamburg, when it will be our time to host our lovely fellows and take care of them in the same welcoming way as they did. We are also excited to finally meet our fellows from Ghana and of course to reunite with the other half of the “Hamburgers”.

Thank you, Chapel Hill, for having us! We had a blast and some of us might come back in the future. 🙂

Rosa, Naemi & Charlotte

Third week in Chapel Hill: From experiencing the Heart of American University Sports to our Travel Weekend

Basketball Game: Miami vs. UNC

Week Three of our exchange program at UNC has been a fascinating experience, culminating in our attendance at the UNC vs. Miami basketball game and our travel weekend. Our week kicked off with a relaxed gathering at Sup Dogs, a popular restaurant at Franklin Street especially known for its diverse hot dog variations, providing us with a taste of the American cuisine as we prepared for the upcoming game.

Throughout the week before, we could feel the excitement for the basketball game building up within the campus community. So, after finishing our pre-game lunch at Sup Dogs, we joined the throngs of students making their way to the stadium, blending in with the sea of the Carolina blue UNC jerseys and hoodies.

The atmosphere inside the stadium was lively and intense. The stands were filled with cheering fans, their enthusiasm contagious. Despite UNC taking an early lead, Miami’s team displayed remarkable resilience, keeping the score close throughout the game. Each play was met with applause and chants from the crowd contributing to the intensity of the match. Go Tar Heels!

As the game progressed, we found ourselves fully immersed in the experience, appreciating the passion for the sport and the sense of community among the UNC fans. We waited for the final buzzer to sound, signaling the UNC victory with the score 75:71. It was a unique opportunity to witness firsthand the role of collegiate sports in American university life, an aspect of the culture that we had heard about but hadn’t fully grasped until now.

Road trip to Wilmington: 02.03. to 03.03.

Arriving in the coastal college Town Wilmington, we, a group of five UHH students, were welcomed by beautiful sunny and warm weather, southern-looking houses with big porches, and vegetation that catapulted my mind straight into the movie “Forrest Gump.“ Palm trees and mistletoes met one another in the blue sky while our 5-seater, fully packed with people singing along to the radio and luggage, passed by the entrance sign „Welcome to Wilmington.“ First stop, the hotel we were staying at for the night. After quickly refreshing and figuring out the next steps for the day, we got back into the car and made our way downtown, where we were met with the smell of summer vacation (I bet you’ll know what smell and atmosphere I am talking about). Strolling through the historic streets of downtown Wilmington, we took every chance we got to explore small shops and take plenty of pictures of the beautiful buildings and murals. Of course, when we passed Kilwins ice cream shop we had to stop for a sweet treat!

One of our American fellows and his sister, who lives in Wilmington, joined us and took us on a little tour around downtown. This is when we learned that, indeed, alligators are roaming the waters of Wilmington (unfortunate for some, a blessing for others, we did not experience their presence during our trip).

One of the highlights from our trip was definitely spending the evening/night watching the beautiful sunset before heading down to a pizzeria and bar where we stuffed ourselves with gigantic pizzas (some of us were very delusional and thought they could finish a whole pizza all by themselves – big miscalculation) and playing board games with the American fellow, his sister, and his friends. This might sound rather boring, but we all had a blast. We ended the night with some chocolate cake and pajamas in our hotel room.

The next day started with a very American breakfast. After fueling ourselves with lots of sugary food items, we made our way to Target to get some snacks for a little picnic at the beach. Arriving at the beach, we realized that eating here might not work out the way we anticipated since the whole beach was covered in fog. Not to worry, we still got to successfully have a picnic inland.

When it was time to head back to Chapel Hill, we had lots of experiences and impressions to take bring back home with us! Not to forget, the drive home was already memorable enough. We had plenty of time to bond over music and conversations during the three-hour drive back home.

Making my way back into my bedroom, I can happily look back at this awesome weekend and the friendships that were formed. OH, an important thing to mention is that we discovered capybaras (not physically, they, unfortunately, do not exist in North Carolina), a savage animal that rides on alligators’ backs – what a legend (we made it our spirit animal for the trip and discovered there is a song worshiping these true legends)!

Travel Weekend in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, February 29th, Laura and I took a bus to Washington, D.C. After a 5.5 hour bus ride, we arrived at our hotel at 11 pm, ready for a long night‘s rest. We stayed at a very central hotel, so that we were able to mostly walk everywhere. That is why on Friday, after having pancakes for breakfast, we were able to just walk to the National Mall. Some of the most prominent sights are located in and around this park, including the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, which we found very impressive. Of course, we also went to see the White House. We finished the day by having dinner at a nice Indian place.

On Saturday, we took a look at the Supreme Court and visited the Library of Congress before splitting up: Laura then visited the Museum of Bible while I went to the National Museum of Natural History. After that, we took the metro to the Georgetown neighborhood, where we had a very yummy late-lunch at an Italian restaurant. Then, we took a long walk down M Street, which is recognized as one of the best shopping streets in the whole country. We had an amazing time going into different stores and taking in the views of the beautiful architecture outside. We finished the day by having some cookies at a famous Bakery called “Levain“, and then went back to our hotel. After an amazing weekend, we took the bus back to Durham on Sunday morning, where one of our host families picked us up.

Laura, Fahima & Marieke

Third week in Winneba

Right now, we are writing our blog entry at the university cafeteria at the North Campus of UEW, which is called Kams. Because of its central location in Winneba, its AC and its good food, it has turned into our unofficial meeting spot. During these lunch breaks, we catch up on our internships, reflect on our experiences and share how we are feeling both physically and mentally. So far, we have learned that irritation can occur both in our host families as well as at internship schools. And on a very simple note: our digestive systems have some catching-up to do as well 😉

Some favorite Ghanaian dishes (clockwise from bottom left): Groundnut Soup, Eba, Palawa Sauce, Kelewele with Casava flakes, Beans and Kenkey

The last week of our internship has started today. Everything feels so much more familiar than it did two weeks ago. Starting with the morning taxi ride to school, including the negotiation of the price and small talk with the other passengers. It has already become somewhat of a routine. When arriving at school, we greet our colleagues, exchange reports of the weekend, and banter about new hair styles or the most recent gossip in town.

Last week was under the auspices of Ghana’s Independence Day. On March 6th, 1957, Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from colonial rule. All over town, the students spent days preparing for the march on Independence Day. The big event took place on the field in front of our school, where each school presented their banner while a marching band was playing. A jury voted for the best marching school and many spectators came to watch and celebrate. After the march, we had a conversation with a person who did not want to celebrate the day because of current politics. It was interesting to hear and learn about another perspective than the one that has been the most apparent in other conversations.

This weekend we visited the Assin Manso Slave River Site and the Cape Coast Castle with our buddies. There we learned about the horrors of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the interconnectedness of Europe’s, America’s and Africa’s history.

It is difficult for us to put the emotions of visiting these sites into words.

For us, experiencing these places once again confirmed the importance of being aware of the past and how it shapes the role we play as visitors from the Global North.

It also stresses the importance of the Tricontinental Teacher Training, since our goal as students partaking in the program from the USA, Ghana and Germany is to meet and learn from each other as equals.

Lastly, the conversations with our buddies are getting deeper and deeper, and we have been able to reflect on our visits to the memorials together. Slowly but surely, we are getting to know our buddies better and are excited for our time together in the Hamburg summer. Conversations about phenomena like transition jackets (Übergangsjacken), public transport and long, mild summer nights add to that excitement, for both us and our buddies. We are already looking forward to the time when the subway rides to the internship schools become a routine for our buddies as the morning taxi rides to school have become one for us. Maybe we will even need Übergangsjacken in June. You never know in Hamburg.

Carlotta & Paula

Second week in Winneba

Prof Dandy was a guest lecturer at the Universität Hamburg during the winter semester of 23-24. Last week, he returned home. We are all super excited to meet him here in Winneba. He came back to Ghana over the weekend, but he went to see his family in Cape Coast. Before going there, he spent some time with some of us in Winneba. We sat at the Club House at the UEW, had a beer, and enjoyed some nice barbecue. The conversations and discussions with him are always fruitful, insightful, and refreshing like the Ghanaian Club beer.

After two weeks in our host families, most of us feel at home. Living with them in their houses and taking part in daily lives feels like being part of the family. But also, the other Group of Students from the Universität Hamburg are great.

The time is running and the days are over just as quick as the snip in the Ghanaian handshake. But before we are ready to realise that our second week is almost over, we are about to start our first educational trip. The Ghanian clock is ticking differently so we are not surprised that we start our trip 2,5 hours later than expected. A three hours drive through the crowded streets of central region brings us to our first destination, the Aburi Botanical Gardens. A guide has prepared a tour and shares all the impressive information about the trees planted over one hundred years ago. We are continuing our trip to Accra to visit the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. Kwame Nkrumah was the very first President of Ghana and played a main role in the independence gained in 1957.

On our way home we are all tired as a trip with 40 teachers can be as exhausting as with 40 students.

Sunday we have the chance to recharge our energy and reflect on the last two weeks. We are meeting up with only the German students to talk about our impressions and thoughts. The open room for communication is very important from time to time as one experience so many new things in a short amount, it’s hard to process. Exhausted but full of excitement for the upcoming two weeks we are ending our half time in Winneba, Ghana.

The hesitation from the kids in the beginning becomes less and they are starting to talk to us and ask a lot of questions about our language and our country. We are getting used to the differences in the educational system and we have the chance to learn from one another. We are all making different experiences from good to bad, but all are a lessons we can learn and develop from. The students are warming our hearts with their beauty from inside and out and their never ending laughter. We already know that their faces will be missed when we are heading towards home again.

The Mausoleum of Kwameh Nkrumah in Accra
Inside Aburi Botanical Gardens
The TTT Participants inside Aburi Botanical Gardens
Inside a classroom at our hosting school

Emma & Felix

Second week in Chapel Hill

Time flies when you’re having fun was really the motto of our second week in Chapel Hill.

On Monday, we finally had our first day at our placement schools. All the UHH students received a school placement based on their field of study in Germany. All of us are placed in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Area and have lovely mentor teachers who answer all our questions and introduce us to American elementary, middle, and high schools. How exciting! 

As the TTT program is part of the “Blockphase” for the KP1 or 2, we get to do all sorts of different activities like shadowing our mentor teachers and other teaching staff during their lessons, co-teaching certain parts of different subjects or even taking over the classroom for a few periods at a time. Of course, our mentor teachers are making sure that everything goes smoothly, and we all received a warm welcome at the respective schools. 

During the week we got to spend the mornings and early afternoons at our placement schools with our mentor teachers, mostly observing and learning our way around the new school system. 

Some interesting things that we noticed were the following:

  • All our schools’ hallways are decorated and personalized to make the students feel welcome and comfortable.
  • However, all visitors of the schools must check in at the front office on a designated computer that takes a picture of your face. This is a safety measure we were not prepared for.
  • A lot of teachers are very student-orientated and talk to them a lot more casually than what we were used to from Germany like “Hi Bestie!”
  • A lot of schools let students retake quizzes and assignments to help the students succeed and learn from their mistakes.

All of us can take three flex days off from our placement schools to work on our UHH assignments or decompress from all of the new impressions. Some of us used this opportunity to further explore the UNC campus and to buy UNC student merch at one of the many stores that line Franklin Street (the main street next to the UNC campus). 

During the afternoons of week two, the teaching department of UNC opened its doors to us. We had the opportunity to sit in and participate in different teaching seminars of the MAT program. Apart from the seminars, we also used the time in the afternoons to spend some more time with our buddies or host families. 

After plenty of new impressions from school, seminars, and the UNC campus, we ended the week with a lovely happy hour at the local bar “TRU”. Afterward, some of us fell right into bed while others went out to a birthday party of one of our UNC TTT fellows. This was a blast, but an important side note is that you must keep in mind to bring your ID to every restaurant or place if you plan on enjoying a drink (containing alcohol). It is very common for everyone (no matter their age) to get carded when ordering a drink, and some restaurants even wanted to see our passports. 

On Saturday, we (including Andreas Bonnet and Claus Krieger) went on another trip to Durham. Public transportation is completely free in North Carolina, so all 11 of us hopped on a bus at Franklin Street which took us straight to Durham. The city is home to the rival university of UNC called Duke. Apart from the rivalry, it is an awesome place to spend your time and we strolled around the local food haul and visited a farmers’ market together. After everyone could grab a coffee or beverage of choice, Taylor took us to visit a flea market and we had a ton of free time to explore Durham’s old Tabacco district (an area rich in history that was transformed into cafes, shops, and other great hang out spots).

The week ended with a free day to process our impressions and experiences from the second week. This was nice because we were able to choose what we wanted to do and were able to head into week 3 fully recharged and excited for more new experiences and uncertainty.

Alexa & Kevin

First week in Winneba, Ghana

Akwaaba! – das heißt willkommen auf Twi. Damit wurden wir in den letzten Tagen herzlich begrüßt. Unsere erste Woche in Winneba ist nun schon vorbei und wir können auf viele spannende Erfahrungen zurückblicken.

Als wir am Sonntagabend nach einer langen Reise am Accra Airport ankamen, wurden wir sofort herzlich von Rhoda Mahama, unserer Koordinatorin, und weiteren Projektteilnehmern begrüßt. Es war direkt für alles gesorgt – wir bekamen ghanaische Sim-Karten und konnten Geld wechseln, um uns Wasser und Snacks für die Fahrt zu kaufen. Mit dem Bus ging es dann nach Winneba zum Student Centre, wo wir von unseren Gastfamilien abgeholt wurden.

Nach einer recht kurzen Nacht lernten wir unsere Buddys endlich auch in echt kennen. Bei der Willkommensveranstaltung erfuhren wir wichtige Infos über Winneba und die UEW und konnten die gesamte TTT-Gruppe kennenlernen und uns austauschen. Mit einem offiziellen UEW-Bus wurden wir danach ein erstes Mal zu unseren Praktikumsschulen gefahren und konnten bereits kurz mit den Schulleitungen oder Mentor:innen  reden. Im Anschluss gingen wir gemeinsam etwas essen und ließen den Tag dann mit unseren Gastfamilien ausklingen.

Während unseres Aufenthaltes in Winneba sind wir in Gastfamilien untergebracht. Es gibt Studierende, die ganz alleine in der Gastfamilie sind. Ein paar sind auch zu zweit. Das Leben in der Gastfamilie bietet einen tieferen Einblick in das Leben in Ghana. Ein Aufenthalt im Hostel bietet dies nicht. Die Gastfamilien sind sehr bemüht den Aufenthalt für uns so angenehm wie möglich zu machen. Trotzdem ist es den meisten Familien auch wichtig uns ihre Sprache, die traditionellen Gerichte und Lebensweise zu zeigen. Daher kommen jeden Tag neue Gerichte auf den Tisch, die probiert werden müssen. Einige Gerichte schmecken gut, aber einige Gerichte sind auch zunächst gewöhnungsbedürftig für den europäischen Geschmack.

Am Dienstag war unser erster Schultag! Franzi, Jacky und Svenja (die, die den ersten Blogeintrag verfassen) sind zusammen an der University Practice School North, das ist eine staatliche Junior Highschool. Wir wurden unseren Mentor:innen vorgestellt und durften sie am ersten Tag bei ihrem Unterricht begleiten. Jacky durfte bei ihrer Mentorin die Mathe Stunden hospitieren, Franzi Englisch und Svenja Social Sciences. Die erste Stunde war für uns sehr spannend. In einem Klassenraum sitzen circa 40-50 Schüler:innen. Die Unterrichtsstruktur unterscheidet sich deutlich vom deutschen Unterricht. Ein Lehrbuch hat, wenn es überhaupt eins gibt, nur die Lehrkraft vorliegen. Die Schüler:innen haben Hefte, in denen sie alles vom Whiteboard abschreiben. Manchmal wird den Kindern auch diktiert, was sie aufschreiben sollen.

Bei der zweiten Stunde stellten wir dann schnell fest, dass wir uns wohl heute 4x exakt dieselbe Stunde anhören dürfen. Denn der Stundenplan der Lehrpersonen sieht so aus, dass sie 2-3x die Woche in einer Klassenstufe (in unserem Beispiel Klasse 9) ihr Unterrichtsfach in jeder Parallelklasse einmal unterrichten. Das heißt, sie wandern von einem in den anderen Raum und fangen wieder mit demselben Thema an. Das war für uns aber in der ersten Woche ganz praktisch, da es noch nicht so leicht für uns ist, die ghanaische Aussprache von vielen englischen Wörtern zu verstehen. So haben wir spätestens beim vierten Mal endlich alles im Unterricht verstanden.

Ansonsten ist die Schule sehr einfach gehalten, es gibt für jede Klassenstufe ein kleines Haus. Die Klassenräume haben ein Wellblechdach und Lochsteine als Fenster. Diese Räume müssen die Schülerinnen und Schüler jeden Tag vor Schulbeginn selbst reinigen. Der Schultag beginnt also um 6:30 Uhr. Nach dem Säubern des Geländes folgt das Morning Assembly mit dem Singen der Nationalhymne sowie trommeln, marschieren und beten. Erst danach beginnt um 8:00 Uhr der Unterricht und geht bis circa 14:00 Uhr, dabei entspricht eine Unterrichtsstunde einer Zeitstunde.

Das ist die Schule.
Stundenplan einer neunten Klasse

Nach der Schule treffen wir uns häufig in der Mensa der UEW. Diese ist gut von den Schulen aus erreichbar und vor allem klimatisiert. Dort gab es für die meisten entweder gebratenen Reis oder Frühlingsrollen. An traditionelle ghanaische Gerichte haben wir uns außerhalb der Gastfamilien noch nicht herangetraut. Ein kaltes Wasser oder eine Cola sind bei den Temperaturen auch ein MUSS!

Jeden Freitag treffen wir uns im Student Center mit allen TTT-Teilnehmer:innen aus Deutschland sowie Rhoda Mahama unserer Koordinatorin, um die Woche zu reflektieren. Im Anschluss haben wir in dieser Woche die German Unit der UEW am Hauptcampus besucht. Hier gibt es ca. 300 Lehramtsstudierende, die Deutsch als zweites Fach belegen. Es war spannend sich mit den Deutsch-Lernenden zu unterhalten und auszutauschen.

Auch in der Freizeit unternehmen wir als Gruppe viel gemeinsam. Häufig sind auch unsere Buddys aus Ghana dabei. Beispielsweise waren wir am Mittwoch alle gemeinsam auf einem Konzert am Campus der UEW. Dort sind Tanz- und Musikgruppen der Universität aufgetreten. Auch wir haben viel getanzt. Heute gehen wir gemeinsam an den Strand.

Wir könnten wahrscheinlich noch viel mehr schreiben. Das reicht jedoch erstmal für die erste Woche.

Franziska, Jacqueline & Svenja

First week in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The time has finally come: StudyCamp has begun for us UHH students, and here is the first blog entry about our experiences during the first week in Chapel Hill, North Carolina! 

For the entire winter semester, the 11 students of us were eagerly awaiting our big trip across the pond. We arrived in Chapel Hill last Friday (02/09/2024) with all our excitement and anticipation in our luggage. Our host families all warmly welcomed us. After a restful night, we finally got to know all our American buddies and Taylor, the coordinator of the TTT in the USA, in a „soft“ kickoff on Saturday. Getting to know each other in the famous Chapel Hill bar „He’s Not Here!“ couldn’t have been nicer with 20 degrees Celsius and sunshine (& that in February!, which is so unusual for us Hamburg people)! (A little background to the name of the bar according to our host father: „He’s Not Here“ means the answer on the phone from the husband’s friends to the wife that her husband is „not here“ in the bar (although obviously, the whole group of boys is drinking beer there at the time) / fun fact: we only met young groups of students here, so not just husbands without their wives, either way, it was a perfect start to our time together!). 

On Sunday evening, another highlight followed as an authentic American Superbowl party was organized by Taylor with the whole UNC buddy group at one of the host families – it was a fantastic experience! There was pizza galore & it felt like we had all known each other for ages!

Then, our first week started with a delicious cup of coffee at the Epilogue Cafe. Afterwards, Taylor showed us around Chapel Hill, and it was our first time to see the beautiful university campus of UNC and the big football stadium where over 50.500 people cheer for the North Carolina Tar Heels (which is a small stadium compared to other university football stadiums in the USA – but for us, it was huge and impressive). It was also great to get together at the Welcome Event.

We also had the opportunity to visit the “Carolina Friends School,” a private school in Durham. We all agreed that this was a really interesting experience for all of us, and we enjoyed getting a tour of the different school buildings. The school is surrounded by trees. Being close to nature and having no grades plays a big role, as well as the principle that the students can change the world. 

On Wednesday, Taylor brought us coffee on campus. We had the opportunity to talk to the faculty of the UNC School of Education and ask them all our questions. Afterwards, a tour guide showed us many beautiful places on the campus, and he presented many interesting facts about the UNC campus – so it’s definitely a recommendation if you want to learn more about the universities and the buildings on campus.

On Thursday most of us got to shadow our buddies and gain first insights into public schools. For me that was so exciting! Visiting a kindergarden class was different from my previous experiences in german elementary schools. The students were just around 5 years old and had a really long school day from 8 AM to 3 PM. On the picture below you can see their school pledge, which is read by a student every day in the morning announcement (go little Tar Heels!). On the next day we visited our placement schools for the first time, which was, and I think we can speak for everyone here, very exciting. These are the schools we will spend most of our time in the next couple of weeks. Personally, I am placed in a spanish-english bilingual school which definitely is a special experience. My mentor teacher showed me around and introduced me to the class that welcomed me warmly. She really seems to love teaching and I am so looking forward to join her and gain new experiences and perspectives. Also I am looking forward to all upcoming conversations, since all of us will gain different insights.

Finally, after a long week with exciting experiences and a lot to process we all started into our weekend with our Buddies-Days, where all of our buddies arranged something for us to do. I heard about everything from fascinating board-games to  pottery painting and of course loads of good food. We spent our day at a baby goat festival (just look how cute they are!) and at target (that’s for sure an experience as well). Thanks to all of our buddies, Taylor, our mentor teachers and host families (and of course everyone else involved)  for welcoming us so warmly and making sure that we’re looking forward to the upcoming weeks!

Josephine, Celina & Mila

Launch-Event for TTT 2024

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.

We are looking forward to an exciting year!

Testimonial from the Hamburg Study Camp

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.

By Emily Banks

Week Four at the Germany Study Camp

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.

Reported by:

Nora, Paulina and Vincent