Diasporian News of Monday, 27 February 2012

Source: Ofori, Oral

How I met a Ghanaian teacher in Woodbridge some years back

By Oral Ofori

Ruth Schrei is a very good friend that I met in Woodbridge Virginia. A couple years ago, I was visiting with her when she asked a favor of me to which I obliged. Ruth's grandchildren had a school event on the day I visited and since she had to be elsewhere, she asked me to accompany her twin grandchildren to the event as a chaperon.

Well I haven't chaperoned anyone to an event before so I jumped at the opportunity, another reason why I agreed to help out was the simple fact that Ruth is an angel who's been there for me many times than I can even imagine. She's one of the few people I know in the United States that I feel have been able to influence my life positively.

Right now I can liken Ruth to Jacqueline Osabutey of Atlanta Goergia, the Jacster of Illinois, David Oryang of the Federal Department of Agriculture in Washington DC, Sonny Young of the Voice Of America (VOA) in Washington DC, Burke Leippman of Arizona (his twin sister counts too), Januah Wilmot of Texas, Dale Heck of Dragon Knee Racing and a bunch of names I cannot mention who have been of tremendous help to me here in my journeying in the USA.

I can not forget you too, yes you reading this blog of mine. If any of the persons mentioned above (and those unmentioned) are reading this piece, then know that you have on countless number of times put smiles in my heart. Anyway, did I say I was with Ruth's grandchildren? Well sure I was and the event I accompanied them to was held at the Beville Middle School in Woodbridge, Virginia. It had an international blend which allowed students and teachers alike to talk about and display their cultures to visiting parents and guardians and yes, curious persons like myself.

Once Ruth's grandchildren and I hit the main auditorium of the school, which was the epicenter of the event, the twins and I agreed that we were all going to split and later on converge back at the main auditorium when the event ends. But what do you know, I had to go looking for them because they got caught in the excitement and probably forgot all about the deal we made to converge at a familiar place.

While at this event, my first stop--once I severed myself from the twins--was at a large hall where the teachers of the school had set up mini shops to display and talk about things highlighting their respective cultures and countries. In less than an hour, I had traveled from The Bahamas to Jamaica through Ukraine, France, Zambia, the Netherlands and a bunch of other countries including Ghana. For some reason I took particular interest in the Ghanaian display and its spokesperson.

The spokesperson and ''tour guide'' at the Ghanaian stand was Thompson Earl Acquah, affectionately called Tommy. Tommy teaches students with severe disabilities at the Beville Middle school in Woodbridge Virginia. It is a known fact that there are many people of Ghanaian origin in the Maryland, District of Colombia and Virginia areas and guess which one of them I decided to pick on at this event—Tommy.

Since I was born on a Saturday, my middle name is Kwame and this name is given to all males born on Saturday from the Ashanti speaking tribes in Ghana particularly, though there are other Kwame's who aren't Ashanti's. That said, I asked Tommy to call me Kwame. Those of you non-Ghanaians who want to know what name corresponds to your day of birth, just shoot me an email (oralofori@gmail.com) and I'll let you know what your middle name would have been if you were from Ghana.

As I said, Mr. Acquah is a teacher and has been teaching many subjects from English to Mathematics to children with special needs for almost a decade and half now. He is a typical Ghanaian with an everlasting smile, a friendly demeanor and a willingness to help out in anyway possible. I had a chat that lasted almost an hour and within that time frame, Tommy got to find out that I'm a journalist and this find was a door opener for me since it made him warm up to me and this allowed me to ask him more questions and to take photos of him.

We ended up talking about how our respective voyages to America began and where we're at today, we also agreed we are not the only ones that were thinking it was time for the many Ghanaians and Africans living outside the continent to start thinking seriously about taking the knowledge they've acquired in their traveling back to their native countries to help in the development of the entire continent. Amidst all the seemingly gloomy times the world is experiencing right now, we both felt there was going to be some bloom—a flickering light of hope at the end of the tunnel, so look out for it dear reader, I'm already seeing flashes of this LIGHT!

I guess Ghanaians all over have a high dosage of an ''it's-all-going-to-be-well-soon'' attitude. It is as though that attitude is a major requirement for people if they are going to be born Ghanaians... they must have it in their genes. That sense of positivity is a major driving force behind who Ghanaians are as a people and it is that same spirit that keeps them going when all markers point to giving up. In that short while of making Thompson's acquaintance, I saw and felt that very strong force which propels a person to defy the odds, rise above it and become a force worth reckoning with. This spirit of positive defiance is what brought me face to face with Mr. Acquah, who has taught for the past 16 years at Beville Middle school in Woodbridge Virginia.

As I stood in front of Tommy and listened to him take me on a speed-trip down the memory lane of his life, I heard and watched him recount the tough and happier moments of his life. Today I am sharing it with you too because ''if he can do it then nothing stops you from replicating this achievement and possibly improving upon it in your own way. Impossible is nothing.

Today Thompson Earl Acquah plays an all important role of imparting knowledge into the young minds of the special needs students he teaches. It's a touch job but before you start thinking your job is a very tough or laborious one too, check out what some people have to endure to earn a living and realize how blessed you are and if you don't have a job, keep pushing, your moment will come soon!

Time for me to stop the day dreaming, time to pick up from where I left off and time for all to realize that the clock has been ticking all this while. Please continue doing what you do the best way you know how because all I have been trying to say is that Ghanaians are made to succeed, we must just find what it is that makes us tick the most and develop it so Africa and the world may benefit from our growth.

Picture: Thomas explaining a point to a parent at Beville Middle school

Oral Ofori, +1202-706-9881, oralofori@gmail.com, Freelance Writer, Broadcaster, Retail Specialist, Music Promoter, Artiste. http://about.me/oralofori/