The #TTtravels series (Teacher Training travels) documents my journey with Martin Momoda, PoP Laos Teacher Training Coordinator, to discover ways of establishing a similar program in Ghana.
Language is such an essential part of being – of existing in a community. I am fortunate in Ghana to read and speak English fluently, as it is the official language of the country. In Volta Region, I am equally if not more likely to hear the local Ewe language spoken and I’m picking up on that as well.
But inability to communicate is a fear I carry whenever I travel. Perhaps that explains why I love to learn languages so much.
Cue: Volta School for the Deaf, the only one of its kind in the Volta Region.
In Laos, Martin has created a channel of communication between Hmong and Lao students both inside and outside the classroom. When English is taught in PoP schools, Lao Sign Language is now used alongside the appropriate vocabulary terms. Students are essentially learning two languages at once, and one reinforces the other. Brilliant, really.
To hear Martin gush over the Lao deaf communities he loves and the pride he feels when a classroom can chant back terms to the teacher with the corresponding signs for each is heartwarming. It was an approach I likely would not have come up with myself. PoP is lucky to have found such a devoted employee with an impressive creative streak.
I jumped on Martin’s expressed desire to visit the Deaf School in Volta and planned a day of it. We got so much more than we bargained for. In the best way.
On a Saturday right at the start of term, I didn’t hold out much hope for anyone to be around VSD. Yet within moments on the campus, Martin was signing with some of the students and then the two people we most wanted to meet came striding up.
Scott Anderson and his fiancée Promise (pictured above) have together built solid foundations for greater acceptance of the deaf among the hearing in the town of Hohoe [Ho-HWAY]. The city is north of Ho Municipal and home to the Volta School for the Deaf and Promise’s shop called Our Talking Hands, where she employs VSD graduates to sell crafts produced by the students. Scott, a Peace Corps Volunteer, has taken his printmaking background to a whole new level and begun a full enterprise, providing the students a means of education and gainful employment beyond graduation. He dreams of integrating them fully into the community.
Martin gained a lot of insight from Scott and Promise, and I gained a new name. With luck, PoP will be able to incorporate Ghana Sign Language into our teacher training programs. This partnership with VSD and the other deaf schools of Ghana will be incredibly beneficial if so.
All in the name of inclusive education and improved literacy. I’ll drink to that.