Name: Ashley Hall
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Nationality: United States
University: University of Kentucky
Degree: Civil Engineering
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (intermediate)
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Elementary School teaching in Accra, Ghana
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: May 2017
Claim to fame: Ashley loves to listen to people’s stories and she thinks in other countries going in with a listening attitude instead of a know it all attitude helps to really learn and appreciate the culture around you. Welcome to the UBELONG Family, Ashley!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I joined a club at my university called Alternative Service Breaks. They give people the opportunity to go on service trips over school breaks. I applied to go to the summer Ghana trip and was accepted. It was through them that we applied to work through UBELONG.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I ended up volunteering as a 3rd grade teacher at a school in Nyanyano, Ghana. It’s a small coastal village that works to keep kids in school and prevent child labor. I don’t know if I had that much of an impact, but I discussed some hard topics with the teacher I was shadowing. He and I discussed caning, the main form of punishment. Although I wasn’t able to completely change his mind, we discussed other methods of discipline such as time-outs or taking away break time. We also talked about when punishment is necessary. Sometimes students would be caned for not understanding content or not having a textbook. These to me didn’t seem like the child’s fault. Sometimes it takes people longer to understand. Instead of getting caned, I took students who were struggling aside and we learned at a slower pace. We started sharing textbooks across desks and tried multiple modes of learning to keep students engaged.
What were your major challenges?
Being a small white girl, the heat and humidity were hard on me. I got sunburned after being outside for 10 minutes and I would get dehydrated very quickly. I am also allergic to seafood and fish, so my food options were mostly rice. It was also hard some days to keep the kids’ attentions and stay calm and patient with them. Teaching is so exhausting!
In a sentence or less, how would you describe the locals you met?
The locals I met were just like me. They weren’t exotic or strange or something with pity. They were just people capable of helping themselves.