Thursday, November 27, 2008


This morning I woke up to a text message from an old friend, Emma, asking if my family in India was alright. Emma met my family when she was staying there, and always asks after them. I wrote back immediately, but all I could say was that I had no idea what on earth she was talking about.

Fortunately my family was fine. As are Colin and Sonia, both traveling in India just now.

It is incredibly disconcerting to be far away, not from people, but from the news. I dont notice this distancing normally, it is only now, when I can feel violence touching the lives of people I care about, and I am left in the dark.

I had some information soon after getting to school, and my sister wrote to me early, to let me know that everyone was fine. Soon after this the teachers of the schoool were aware of what had happened. And for the most part they were interested and thoughtful. But of course there is the one person who is gleefully self-righteous. Condemning terrorism and muslims in general with one broad sentence. I ignored it as I always do. I wonder if I always will.

A week from Sunday Ghana will have their presidential election. There are two frontrunners... the incumbent and the person that everyone says won last time. Will there be violence? There has already been violence in the villages far from Accra, but no one is expecting more than tension in the city. Ghana has been peaceful for a while... I really hope it stays that way.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All Night Long

Ive mentioned night life at the camp once before, but I think it deserves another note. Night life here is... surreal.

When the sun goes down and the music turns on you forget where you are. You are transportedinto an outdoor festival. Last weekend (on sunday, the big night) there was an outdoor freestyling competition in the square. We sat in a bar close enough to watch, but couldnt hear a thing, so I have no idea if the liberians are any good. I do know that although we were listening to such hits as 'where is the love' and 'bombastic' the bar / club next door was blasting Carter III on repeat.

Tonight wewill take our new aussie houseguest to the XXX club. Which has cheap beer and an expesive 2nd floor pool. Just to show him the difference between the school we work at and the club kids party at.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Irritating Times

So one of the things about living on the refugee camp is taht you have to know that sometimes you wont have electricity. This is no big deal. So when we cam home last night to find no electricity, we shrugged and movedon. Went to the bar, had a drink, came home, got out the headlamps, sat on the bed... and ingrid was attacked by a tiny little bat. It was clearly afraid of our headlamps but shit, it kept flying around and creeped the hell out of me.

You get over it. You sit on the bed. And then it breaks. I mean really breaks. I hammered one section back together with my shoe. While that happened a mysterious child started speaking through the window. Asking us for food or money he began listing things we had taught. Was he in one of our classes... probably, but still, it was unnerving. Eventually I got a piece of wood for the hammering, and one piece was fixed... but after that... well, its hot enough that you have to just say, nevermind, and sleep on the floor.

In the morning our water had disappeared. sweet.

Still, by the time we got back from school, someone had fixed the bed, we had more water, and the electricity was back on. Basically, im spoiled.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Carolyn A. Miller

Is the name of the school where we are teaching. The other day we went to the teachers meeting. It was fascinating. Not least because the teachers (all liberian refugees) have english as their first language... but have accents so thick, and such a limited (in work settings) vocabulary, that you would never know this.

Sidebar: Why do they all speak engish? Liberia was colonized by a private orgnization in America that didnt think reconstruction was possible and so was sending freed slaves back to Africa.

The topics were also fascinating.

-Can we PLEASE lightly cane the children. they are getting out of hand.
-Can we please enforce the dress code more strictly, 14 year old girls wearing sleevless t-shirts are to distracting to allow us to work. (bullshit)
-Teachers are no longer allowed to have chairs in their 40 or 80 minute classes.
-The final exam will be given two weeks early but we will lie to the kids and tell them it isnt the final exam.

This last one seems silly, but it aparently necessary. People are worried about the election to be held in Ghana on the 7th. I will write more on this as it occurs.



So Colin asked me to tell him how we were getting around when we travel from the camp. The answer: we travel by tro-tro. Think athletic vans that seat around 16 people. Five rows total. The driver's row seats three including the driver. Every other row seats four people. There is one sliding door. This door is manned by a boy who announces where this van goes, gets passengers and collects the fare. The fare is incredibly cheap. To fit everyone in the middle three rows have folding seats at the end closest to the door. They fold up to let people walk by and fold down to let people sit. Colin informs me that in syria and jordan this is a very common way to travel between cities. In Ghana the tro-tros go EVERYWHERE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sex Ed

We taught our first sex ed class today. We were told about 40 minutes before that we were going to teach the class, and then thrown into it. We actually did really well, but Ingrid needs to take the credit; shes a pro.

We will be teaching the class the entire time we are here. The old health teacher is taking advantage of having Ingrid here, he really needs a girl to talk to the girls, so this and English will be our main focus.

A reading group could be fun to start, and for our first book: Charlotte's Web. Or possibly The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Well, we are at the liberian refugee camp. Its kind of amazing. Im in the internet cafe at the school, which is pretty fast, but I only have a few moments. So I'll be brief.

Our first night in the camp was surreal. After walking thropugh and seeing where people lived, we got some food, spaghetti, and then we went... to the club. A huuuge, nice, enormous, clean, gigantic, Club. This club has a disco, and on the econd floor there is a pool. not pool tables... a pool. And the drinks are CHEAP. So right now our house has no running water, but the Club is pimpin'.

Such a weird difference. But as our buddy Lance (a refugee in charge of volunteers) told us... if you arent in school and you dont work... why not party. Even if it was sunday night. Or rather, especially sunday night. I guess Sunday is the new Thursday.

I think I am going to see if the ninth graders would like a blog. They are supposed to be writing every day, to get ready for a high school entrance exam... could be good practice.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


So... I missed the election. When we got here we knew this might happen, and it sucked, but I want to thank all the people who were kind enough to text me throughout the night with updates. I didnt sleep all that well, but it was nice to know what was going on.

People here are totally into Obama. We glanced at a paper on Monday and there were full page bios of both candidates in the international section. McCain's was thorough but... bland. Obamas was hilariously pro-Obama. I loved it. When we watched the local tv station there was a thing about African Diaspora, a group of Africans and African-Americans volunteering for his campaign, and then interviews with local ghanains, followed by, of all things, a segment explainig Rock the Vote.

This morining Obama was, of course, front page news.