Once upon a time I went to a school in Togo

Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
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Trip End Dec 16, 2012


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Flag of Togo  , Maritime,
Monday, January 23, 2012

Once upon a time, before we started our epic two year journey, I was a school teacher. Each year in January I would be busy preparing my classroom for a new year, a new class to tame and a new challenge. Once upon a time on this day I would have started the first day of school in Australia, dreading the heat of the summer, but excited about meeting my new class. But now, after today, I can say, once upon a time I went to school in Togo!
While visiting Lake Togo, we stumbled along a school on an afternoon walk. School was out for the weekend and we knew it as excited children ran in all different directions as they were released from school for another week. Curious tourists that we were, we approached the teachers of the local school, and before we knew it, we had organised a school visit on the Monday.
Monday morning comes along and accompanied by fellow travellers from our tour, I jump in a taxi and head out of Lome back to the village school. Myself a primary school teacher, Amy, a Canadian-French primary school teacher from Canada, Julia, an Austrian teaching German in England and Lee, a English teacher, teaching English around the world, we all were excited about our excursion.
As we drove down the dusty lane towards the village school, I watched as local children walked to school, picking up palm prongs along the way. Why, to play with? Well no, as we soon found out. When we arrived at the school, we were surprised to see all the students busy sweeping up leaves and rubbish with palm prongs. Awesome hey. Once upon a time when I was a teacher in Australia, we had cleaner to do that job and it was a struggle to get students to volunteer to pick up rubbish. But after today, once upon a time I went to school in Togo.
Soon the bell had rung, not electronically, but manually by a school boy. Unlike Australia, the students did not stroll to class, but quickly lined up in their class lines and proceeded to sing the school song, salute the flag and march in a military like action to the beat of a drum played by some school boys. Once upon a time in Australia, I struggled to get my class to walk quiet in 2 straight lines for more than 5 minutes, but today, I witnessed classes in lines with no reinforcement required. Once upon a time, I admired the discipline of the students at a school in Togo.
Once all the students made it into their classrooms, we were taken on a tour to meet all the classes. First stop was a class full of 132 smiling five and six year olds. Yes, 132, can you believe it? They were all squashed into one classroom with one teacher, but came to attention with no hassle. They greeted us in chant. It was amazing to see that many eyes paying us attention. Once upon a time I was a teacher of six year olds, and I had 27 students in my class, thinking that was hard. But after today, once upon a time I went to a school in Togo, and nearly had a heartattack when thinking of the challenges of teaching a class of 132 students.
Our class visit continued, greeting more smiling, attentive faces and when we greeted the real little ones it took me back to the time when I was a prep teacher. The little ones are always so cute, whether it be in Australia or Togo, but after today, once upon a time I got to see the little ones at a school in Togo, and they were also doing their obstacle course. Just like my kids in Australia!
As we headed to the upper primary classes we were able to chat with the students more. We used a world map to explain where we were from in the world compared to Togo. Once upon a time when I was preparing for our world trip, I used a world map to show my class in Australia, where I would be travelling to. But today, I got to show a class in Togo where I had come from.
Last class, and our last chance to embrace this awesome opportunity. We once again showed the students where we had come from in the world. The teacher also got us to spell our names, and the students were asked to write them on their little personal chalk boards. Once upon a time I watched my young students writing my name in playbased learning situations. But today, I witnessed students at a school in Togo writing my name on a chalk board, even though they spelt it with a C.
As we left the classroom we chatted with the principal, and informed him of how impressed we were with the discpline of the students. He admitted that sometimes they could be naughty and that in Togo, the cane is still used on rare occassions. Once upon a time in Australia, I had a conversation with my principal about the lack of discipline of some students. But today, I praised a principal in Togo about the discipline of his students.
As we drove away from the dusty village school, we were all smiling. I was so over the moon about our visit, and couldn't believe how lovely the school and its students and teachers were. Once upon a time I was looking forward to not having to teach for two years, but after our visit today, I had a slight feeling that I missed teaching. Once upon a time I went to a school in Togo and it blew me away!
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