During the first week of this term I received a schedule for the term. The schedule said that students would vacate on April 8th. Well, I have been in Ghana long enough to know that this is only a soft suggestion, ANYTHING could happen in the three months until then. So I didn’t start planning my trip to the Upper East yet.
Fast forward to March 22, to morning assembly where we were told that the exams that were supposed to start on Thursday were postponed. I had been wondering because we didn’t have paper nor toner to print the exams my German friends and I had typed for the past week. Students who hadn’t paid their school fees for the 2nd term were sent home to get them. I assumed so the school could have money to buy paper and toner.
Since the school was pretty much empty and those students who were there were working on the farm I decided to do something productive. I would travel to Cape Coast and visit New Life Orphanage for Peace Corps. When I told the headmaster my plan he said he thought that exams would start on Monday the 28th.
The urge to know when classes would end was because If I wanted to travel I must get a signed Volunteer Leave Request Form (VLRF) to Accra at least a week before I was to travel. I figured I could stop in Koforidua on my way back from New Life and send a form to Peace Corps then.
While traveling back I found out from Werner that we would not have exams the week of March 28 but students would work on the farm that week and then exams should start on April 4.
During the week there was no sign of toner nor paper to print the exams. They arrived around 11 pm on Friday night when Pastor Segie came to lead the all night prayer session. Most of the exams were printed over the weekend but we still wondered if exams would begin on Monday the 4 because the headmaster didn’t return to campus until late Sunday night.
Well exam did begin on Monday. Hip Hip hooray! I went to Koforidua on Tuesday planning to fill out the electronic form and send the signed one on to Accra via the Kumasi sub office. Much to my dismay when I opened the electronic form it was a PDF that could not be edited.
Knowing PC wanted notification of my travel a week ahead of time I sent an Email to my boss and to the head of security telling them of my travel plans. When I got back to BASCO, late that afternoon, PC called me. My boss, Mary, said they needed the form before I left. I explained my problem with the PDF. As I had a MOCK exam to proctor on Wednesday and my ICT exam on Thursday I told her I didn’t think I could get to Kof before Friday.
The next day, Wednesday, I went to collect my ICT exams only to discover that the printer had run out of toner and the ICT exams had not been printed. Just a little frustrating because fi anyone had told me on Wednesday morning or even Tuesday that my exams weren’t printed I would have gone to Kof and printed them myself. As it was it was too late to go.
Werner said we could try to print with a little shake, rattle and roll! So we went to the lab and turned on the batteries that can power the computers for an hour. The battery was beeping like crazy because other people had used them that day. It was very frustrating. We managed to get 7 pages printed then the batteries died. To me it was a mixed blessing. I think the beeping would have made me mad.
I managed to find an old VLRF and filled it out. The headmaster signed. Now when could I go fax this. Is there even a fax machine in Koforidua?
In the middle of this frustration the PC Security Officer called me and said I must not move (travel) until they received the form. I am afraid I snapped something like “You have been to my site. It’s not easy to get out of and I don’t have a PC car to take me to Kof and back in a jiffy.” He wondered why i didn’t have time if classes were over. I explained that although classes were over we were having end of term exams and I needed to be there to proctor and to mark my exams.
Later in the evening, when the generator was on, Werner printed the exams.
On Thursday morning I awoke ready to give my exam and had reluctantly decided to try to go to Kof after the exam. It meant paying for taxi fare (12 cedis) both ways to the junction because after 10 am it’s too hot to walk the 3km to the junction.
At 9:30 I walked to my class and saw the agriculture master writing on the board. He turned and told me my exam had been rescheduled to 12:30. No chance to go to Kof today. I just went back to my room. Took a beach book and read so I would blow my stack.
On this morning I discovered that we should have our papers marked and the grades in the assessment books by the end of the day. So now the plan is to go to Kof on Saturday.
I like to plan ahead I am happy to comply with Peace Corps rules. I certainly don’t want to be sent home because I left site without notifying my APCD. As things changed and were unconfirmed at my school my stress level has risen. I can say that I will really be ready to go the Upper East and have a vacation.
10 April 2011
Yesterday I went to Kof. I had not hope that I would be lucky enough to find a fax machine without tramping all around Kof. First, I stopped at my favorite copy center but they did not have a fax nor a scanner. He directed me to another nearby business center. Yeah! they had a scanner. They would scan my form for 30 pesewa. Yes. Then I could email it.
I am packing this morning and planning on starting my trip tomorrow. But who knows that could change. I’ll let you know.