Mar 1, 2012

ISEP VOLUNTEER PROFILE: ELIYA LAVINE

ELIYA LAVINE... ISEP VOLUNTEER AT THE MAWUVIO"S SCHOOL in KISSEMAH

I am originally from Los Angeles, CA, but have been in Bay Area for the past couple of years studying as a Conservation and Resource Studies major with a minor in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley.  I've known that I wanted to study abroad since I heard that it was a possibility, and selecting Ghana as the country to go to was a relatively intuitive decision.  In studying abroad, I wanted to immerse myself in a place where I would be initially uncomfortable, a place that would challenge my sense of self and purpose.  I also sought to find a place where a high value is placed on human connection and experience.  Ghana met these baseline criteria, and I have been extremely grateful for the extent to which the people of this country have welcomed me.

I learned about Mawuvio's before coming to Ghana from a friend who'd studied abroad here previously.  She'd volunteered at Mawuvio's for a month over the summer and only had the most wonderful things to say about the work of the teachers and the flying spirits of the children despite very difficult living situations. The combination of my friend's good words and my hopes to work with children led me to visit and then volunteer at Mawuvio's. 

My schedule allows me to go to Mawuvio's once a week on Wednesdays for a few hours, during which time I am partnered with a student who needs help with fundamental reading skills.  We focus on phonics and pronunciation, with a lot of reviewing throughout.  I teach with the help of some few books and resources that the school has acquired, but the student I'm paired with teaches me the resilience and eagerness of a child determined to learn. It has only been a few short weeks thus far, but I already feel connected to the children as they warmly greet me whenever I visit with big smiles and "good morning, madame!"s; I am so incredibly humbled by the work of Renee and Kwame and am looking forward to learning with the Mawuvio's community.