Talk about the shortest work week ever! After one day of teaching, I was off the hook until Monday. The kids did have school on Thursday, but the entire morning was consumed by the “Investiture Ceremony”. I always find it interesting to see what words people use in other English-speaking countries. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve ever used or seen the word “investiture” before (if you’re in the same boat, it’s the same thing as an inauguration or swearing-in ceremony), but these kids are going to grow up knowing it.
The next question: who is getting sworn into what? As far as I know, no one does this stuff in the States, but it seems like it’s a thing in a lot of other countries (this is solely based on my observations here, in Ghana, and in Harry Potter). Each class has a Prefect, and then the whole school is split into four teams: green, yellow, red, and blue. Each team has a Captain and Vice-Captain, and then there’s a School Captain and School Vice-Captain. I couldn’t tell you what any of this means or what the responsibilities that go along with any of these positions are, but there you have it. The four teams compete throughout the year in all sorts of events, from poetry writing to football. At the end of the year, the winning team gets a trophy and, I assume, a lifetime of glory. Like I said, I really have no idea how it all works, but it sounds like fun!
So back to the investiture. Today was the day where all of the lucky (or maybe unlucky?) students took their oaths and promised to lead their classmates with integrity. I went early to help set up and start my campaign to be treated like everyone else. When I first got there, they tried to get me to sit down and watch them work. Had I done that, probably 5 minutes later someone would have come with a tray containing a mug of hot milk for me (hot milk is now apparently my thing since I don’t drink tea or coffee, and there needs to be some hot beverage for people to bring me) and nothing for anyone else, confirming my suspicions that they are not treating me like I’m one of the other teachers. I forced my way in and started helping with the decorations, and one of my co-teachers told me that I could sit with her team during the ceremony. “Perfect!” I thought. Commence blending in.
You want to know how long that lasted? Approximately 5 minutes. First thing on the agenda was the honoring of guests, and after Pastor Daniel and Ruth, I was called up and forced into sitting in the “honored guest” seating area. Seriously? No one could have given me a heads up when we were setting up those chairs that one of them was for me?
I thought that was the end of it, but that shows how little I know! I then was included with Pastor Daniel and Ruth in the honor of lighting the candles that the kids were carrying in the procession… and leading the procession! I was mortified. Here I am, trying to blend in, and I’m being given all of these tasks of honor, as if I’ve done anything to deserve them. Pastor Daniel and Ruth… they are deserving of all of that. They are amazing. Me? All I did was get on an airplane and fly here from another country. I felt like an imposter.
Okay, so I was off the hook after the candle-lighting, right? No no, I still had work to do (keep in mind that no one told me about any of this, so each time they announced my name it was like oh hey, surprise!). After everyone was sworn in, who better to offer words of encouragement than me? Cue impromptu speech #3 since being here, though for the others I at least had some clue that they were coming. I spit out something about the responsibility of leadership and leading by example and how just because you’re not given the label of being a leader doesn’t mean people aren’t looking up to you. I actually think it was okay, but I could have come up with something way better if I had more than 10 seconds’ notice.
When I sat down, I was sure that had to be the end. Again, I was mistaken. I then had the honor of handing out the gifts to the newly-installed student leaders and had to do the whole cheesy-picture-while-handing-the-gift-over thing.
By the time the ceremony was over, I was at a total loss. What. Just. Happened. I feel like I’m a princess who is trying to live a normal life, but no one will let her. The difference is, I’m not a princess. I am just a normal person trying to learn about what it’s like to be a normal person in another part of the world.
I promise I’m not ungrateful, just overwhelmed. I understand that this is the culture, and I do appreciate how kind everyone has been to me, but this ceremony caught me way off guard. I thought that once I was teaching and doing things that everyone else does, we would all be on the same level. When I ended up being SO wrong in that assumption, it was like something out of a comedy bit. Ah the joys of travel. Here’s to another day of cultural discovery!