Abby Selden
Abby Selden
Ghana 2010
Abby Selden is a recent graduate of the Honors Program at Belmont University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Journalism, with a minor in Political Science. Abby has a passion for volunteering and learning about other cultures – she feels so fortunate that she had the chance to spend three months living and working in Ghana. Read More About Abby →

October Letter from Abby

Letter Ten (October 3, 2010) – Math Lessons and a Sacred Crocodile Pond

In this week’s letter, Abby discusses how she and Ayla find themselves having to combine lessons because the Ghanaian teachers regularly let school out too early. They also try to devise new ways of giving their students the individualized attention they need in certain subjects, particularly math. Abby has an interesting weekend visiting Takoradi, Nzulezo, Busua Beach and Egyambra, where she witnesses a fetish priest feeding a live chicken to a crocodile.

Helping with classwork

An individualized math worksheet

On the way to the Nzulezo stilt village

Busua Beach

Waiting for the crocodile feeding in Egyambra (skirt made in Ghana!)

The sacred crocodile, just fed by the priest in Egyambra

Leaving Egyambra after the alligator feeding

September Letters from Abby

This week, Abby continues to teach Computer Technology, Natural Science and English. She is learning by trial and error the best ways to convey information to her students, a constant challenge considering the language barrier. Abby decides not to travel this weekend, and to instead attend the funeral of a woman who has died in her village, which turns out to be a fascinating cultural experience.

Teaching a Natural Science class

Children marching in celebration of the woman who died

Dressed for the funeral march

Ghanaians attending the formal funeral service

Abby and Ayla, a volunteer from Australia, begin teaching together and dividing their teaching duties. Abby confronts the unique challenge of teaching Computer Technology, despite the fact that the school has no electricity, let alone computers. She and Ayla also decide to establish class rules, which they hope will provide some order. This weekend, Abby takes a ferry ride on Lake Volta and sees baboons at a nature preserve.

Attempting to demonstrate how a mouse and mousepad work, using a cell phone and a book

View from the ferry ride on Lake Volta

Baboons outside the Shai Hills Resource Reserve

Guided through the Shai Hills Resource Reserve

This week, Abby begins her work as a teacher at the Mt. Zion School and finds that it is less organized than she had hoped. She also realizes that the children in her class vary greatly in their skill levels, which she fears could pose a major problem in teaching them. Nevertheless, she continues to be impressed by all of the kids she works with, with one incident involving popped balloons leaving her utterly in awe at how creative the kids can be. Abby also makes her second trip to Kokrobite Beach, where an unexpected illness leaves her wondering if she has malaria.

The Mt. Zion School

Teaching a Natural Science class

As the summer holiday draws to a close, Abby prepares for her upcoming role as a teacher at the Mt. Zion School. She is also enjoying getting closer to the kids and visiting with them while they eat lunch. Abby also takes a trip to Keta Beach, where she visits another historic slave fort and has a journey through Keta Lagoon on an unsettlingly leaky boat.

Hanging out at the orphanage

The slave fort in Keta Beach

Boat trip in Keta Lagoon

Boat trip in Keta Lagoon

August Letters from Abby

Abby tries to keep lessons at the orphanage fun, while dealing with challenges presented by a sometimes apathetic orphanage staff. As she learns more about the kids at the orphanage, she is continually impressed by how inventive and resourceful they are. She also takes a trip to Cape Coast, a city home to a national park and two historic slave forts.

Reading practice at the orphanange

A section of the canopy walk at Kakum National Park

The slave fort in Elmina

A Ghanaian guide leads a group through the slave fort.

Abby continues teaching lessons at the orphanage while also getting to know the kids better – she is quickly adjusting to the realization that kids half her age are much better than her at soccer. She also discusses the importance of price negotiation when purchasing everything from wooden crafts to taxi rides, as well as her trip to an amazing waterfall in the Volta Region.

Flag drawings from a lesson at the orphanage (some of the kids may have taken some liberty with the colors...)

View from the tro on the way to Wli Waterfalls

Making the climb to the upper Wli Falls

Wli Falls

Abby and a few other volunteers take the kids at the orphanage on a day trip to the Boti Waterfalls, as she continues to confront the challenges of teaching geography and other subjects to the seventeen kids of Mt. Zion Orphanage. She also discusses her weekend trip to Accra, the capital of and largest city in Ghana.

The kids head to Boti Falls.

Boti Falls

Abby in front of Independence Arch in Accra

Abby talks about the challenges of organizing lessons for the seventeen children of the Mt. Zion Orphanage while they are on holiday from school, as well as her trip to Kokrobite Beach.

Teaching geography in the orphanage dining hall

Kokrobite Beach

Beads for sale in Kokrobite

Abby in Africa

Abby Selden, a May 2010 graduate of Belmont University’s Journalism program, is the first recipient of the Lumos Student Travel Award.   Working through an organization called Projects Abroad, Abby is volunteering in Ghana for three months at the Mount Zion Foster Home, located in the Akuapem Hills. While volunteering at the foster home, she is assisting in whatever capacity she is needed, with the ultimate goal of helping the children achieve a good education and live in a positive environment.

While in Ghana, together with other volunteers from around the world, she is living with a Reverend and his family in Kwamoso, which is near Akropong, about a thirty minute Tro Tro ride from the orphanage itself.  In a recent cell phone conversation, about the only form of contact she has with folks back home, and even that is only possible very occasionally, Abby said she was having a wonderful experience, with her host family, with the children, and seeing parts of Ghana most casual travelers never get to see.  As soon as she can get to a post office, another task whose ease we often take for granted, she will be sending letters that will be posted to this site.  In the meantime, a recent posting on the Projects Abroad website gives a taste of how (and what) she is doing.