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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

MUIT 101 Daytime, MUCG Prayer Service, Trip to the Post Office

Charlie writes...

It was a busy day today. I joined the boys and Jasper as they left this morning for school, and they dropped me at the college. Ken was greeted by his namesake and Jasper's brother, who is now watchman/guard on the campus. Kennedy had been our night watchman at the house when we first arrived, and introduced us to Jasper. I spent some time reading Romans in "The Message" before some of the IT freshmen came by to ask about where MUIT 101 was to be taught. Together, we scoped out a room on the ground floor that seemed about the right size. There are about 40 freshmen in the IT group, eight of whom are female. The evening students are older, and numbered 9, all male.

The day students are mostly fresh graduates of the SSS (senior secondary schools, comparable to a high school in the US), and seemed alert and ready, even though the class ran from 8:30 to 10:30, which would have been VERY early and long for me as an undergraduate. I outlined the differences between what freshman IT majors would learn in their math class and what the other majors would be studying. The polynomials, equations of lines, trigonometry, and exponentials/logarithms of the rest of the school are replaced with "discrete math" which includes topics like Number Theory, propositions and proofs (via induction, cases, contradiction), Trees, Networks, Graphs, Counting, and Recursion.

After class, I chatted with the master groundskeeper/landscape architect on the campus, who was supervising a crew of 6 men hacking away at the elephant grass lining the main dirt road leading to the campus. The principal had requested that bermuda grass be planted for a more finished look, but the landscaper again commented on the very tight budget he must work within. He also indicated that water for irrigation may be a problem, since the water pressure on campus is not great. Perhaps Mary Kay will have a water project in our own backyard!

The chaplain's office had put up flyers announcing the first weekly worship service on campus, and Mary Kay came over to join me. We sat in the front with the other lecturers and academic officers. A lecturer in psychology who is a Prebyterian minister gave the homily, and lead the congregation in a prayer session following. Using texts ranging from Genesis to Jeremiah, he tried to impress upon everyone that we should be confident in pursuing our goals which honor God, and not be afraid or distracted. There were several hymns sung from a book excerpted from the MHB (Methodist Hymn Book), most of which we were familiar with, even using the tunes we remembered from the US. It seems that almost half of the hymns we sing at Mt. Olivet Methodist are familiar words but sung to different tunes than we are used to.

The college receptionist gave us a notice from the Ghana Post Office that reported the arrival of a package from my sister two weeks ago. We checked at our local PO, but they directed us to the Accra Central PO for pickup. Jasper stayed with the car, while I queued at the main window. The clerk there told me I was at the wrong place, and so we ended up circling the block to park inside the main post office courtyard. We were then directed to walk around the outside again to another entrance. We saw a long line of people queued for outbound shipments, but then a number of windows for pickup. Our form had a red '7' marked on the top, which we then found out indicated the window which we were to use in claiming the Parcel Post. We had been instructed to present ID in the form of a Ghanaian passport and driver's license, so I had brought along a scan of my US passport and the International Driver's Permit and my Georgia license. The clerk joked that people from the US have too many IDs. She took the passport copy and made note of my Georgia license number on her paperwork, then went behind to fetch the parcel. Then the customs lady had us open the parcel in front of her, then announced that based on the contents, I would have to pay 47 thousand cedis duty. Being familiar with the habit here of quoting a price down to the cedi and then collecting much more without returning change, I had brought along smaller bills. I paid 47 thousand with two twenties, a five, and two fresh one thousand bills. This made quite an impresson on both of them, as they assume that an obruni (white man) will pay with big bills, and they can pocket the change. Then I was asked questions about what I was doing in Ghana, and once they found out I was teaching at Methodist University College, the customs lady said she had a relative she wanted to get into college, and the post lady said she had a ward who she wanted to get into the Wesley Grammar School on the opposite side of the property. I had to beg off, saying I didn't know the folks at Wesley Grammar. All in all, a rather complicated exercise. Upon exiting, the gate keeper asked Jasper to pop the back trunk for an inspection, which seemed a bit gratuitous. Having packages delivered is obviously much more complicated than flats, which seem to make it more easily, although still at a cost of nearly $20 each.

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