As a 9 year board member of Ghana Educational Collaborative, I often reflect on our journey as an organization. Here we are in the month of February, the second month of the year. It’s interesting because the number two has various meanings. It shows compansionshop, oneness/ union and also difference or division. February the second month of the year, some call it the month of love, while many others celebrate the powerful contribution of those in the Black Diaspora. All in all things it has been a reminder of why our work as Ghana Educational Collaborative is important during this time.
February the second month of the year ushers in GEC’s continued journey of becoming an anti-racist, equitable and just organization. We can't say we love our students and families in Ghana without first understanding our positionality, how we’ve been socialized and how we unconsciously perpetuate systems of oppression. Sounds intense? I know, but this work begins with us. We can’t hold a mirror to others unless we first hold a mirror to ourselves. As an organization we are doing intentional work to examine and reimagine our policies, practices, and structures that are currently in place. This will only strengthen our work with one another and the partnership we develop with our students, familines, Maties Masie’s Board in Ghana and beyond.
“The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete, they make one story become the only story– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As a team we watched A Danger of A Single Story and we asked ourselves the following questions: “How have you fed into or combatted the single story?” How have we as an organization fed into or combatted the single story? We dove into these questions and named specific times when we fed into the single story and how that impacted our students in Ghana and their families. This is not a time to feel shame, guilt or place blame, but a wonderful opportunity to lean into discomfort and grow as individuals and an organization. If you have the time and space I invite you to watch the TED Talk and ask yourself similar questions in various areas of your life, especially if you value the humanity of others.
In the spirit of love and combating a single story I would love to highlight our wonderful board in Ghana. Wait! We don’t do this by ourselves? Of course not, we partner with a team of adults who bring numerous gifts, experiences, wisdom and passion to GEC. The board in Ghana is none other than Matie Masie. The name comes from an adinkra symbol which means, “What I hear, I keep.” It’s a symbol of wisdom, knowledge and prudence. I had the pleasure to work closely with this phenomenal board and they have provided a strong foundation as GEC has developed over the years. The work with our students is not possible without the engagement of Matie Masie. Together we have worked to support the students and families in our program. As we move forward in 2021 I envision Matie Masie expanding and becoming a leader in our work.
As I conclude my thoughts about the second month of the year, I would like to leave you with a few things. “Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust.”-bell hooks. As we shift from the “month of love”, let's carry this with us. We have chosen love. We seize the responsibility to understand who we are, how that impacts others and to hold ourselves accountable. We made the commitment to acquire the knowledge needed to be in community with our entire GEC family. We are taking the steps to operate with respect even if we don’t understand, or may disagree in order to maintain trust. Now this all seems warm and sweet, but we continue to examine and reimagine when we fail to see, fail to act, fail to combat a single story, fail to reach our goal, fail to show respect, fail to build a community of trust, fail to increase our knowledge and fail on our commitments. Love is a powerful choice, but in the end I choose love.