Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ghana 2017 - Day 14. The bottom of the fifth

We have finished our second of four weeks of instruction, and many of the students are touching bottom on the typical pattern of students abroad. A bit of the stress is due to the fact that this weekend they are having midterms (I gave a take home midterm that should be pretty straightforward, but will still require my three students to block out four hours to get it done.

Our one male student, Klaeb, is handling things very well. He is the friendly sort, so by now has made quite a few friends among the Ghanaian students staying at his dorm. He started by bribing some of the students with an invitation to share a cup of coffee, and by now every time he arrives his many friends holler a welcome just at the sound of his steps.

Some of the girls, on the other hand, are getting homesick and have been sick. They are all pretty gregarious, but misery loves company so they have formed a pretty tight group with not many other connections. I realize this is a broad statement, and I must point out that there are some glorious exceptions. One of our female students had an introduction to a Ghanaian family, and from day two she was happily spending time with them, formed an attachment with the son of the family, and is having a great time visiting schools and attending community events.

Two of our very outgoing African-American students have been struck by intestinal disease, and are now afraid of trying any new food (fortunately they have not lost their good humor). The paranoia has extended to the rest of the clan, so the girls are now tired of just eating rice, and are beginning to dream about steaks, French fries, and Italian pasta. Unfortunately they have strange eating habits, and eat like birds anyway, so I can see that American foods are by now some sort of unattainable Nirvana.

After class I suggested to my students that we could go to the mall and catch a movie. Wonder Woman was showing at 4:30 pm, so we had time to go have lunch before the movie. As it turns out, the girls had already seen it (When? I thought it had just come out this summer?), but they jumped at the chance to go have a hamburger at the mall. So we got there by trotro and made a beeline for the hamburger place (I forget the name, but one of the girls said they had this same chain in New York). The hamburgers looked great, but the price was a bit steep (about US$ 20 including fries and soda). What the heck, you only live once. I had the old traditional fat patty, medium rare, with cheese, lettuce and tomato, with sweet potato fries, and had to refrain myself not to gobble it up. I needed to enjoy this meal. Kaleb had a barbecue hamburger with French fries that he also enjoyed tremendously. But our enjoyment was nothing like that of the girls, who were enraptured by their own hamburgers, fries, and lots and lots of ketchup. I think it was the right medicine for the midterm blues! (but, alas, a couple of them eat only half of their hamburgers and had their plates removed before I could ask them “Are you going to finish that?”).

After lunch we broke apart, the girls to do some shopping and take a taxi back home, and Kaleb and I to enjoy the movie and a bag of popcorn. It was a fun afternoon.

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