Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ghana 2017 - Day 20. Yet another normal class day

Oh boy, it is hot. The morning was cool enough, but when I finally came back home at 5 pm my shirt was soaked. I am very glad to be sitting by the side of my AC.

My morning was interesting. In the third floor of the International House is the Institute for Natural Resources of Africa, which belongs to the United Nations University (UNU). I had never heard of this university, so with the help of our Administrative Assistant, Claudia, I set a meeting with the Director, to find out what UNU is all about. Dr. Elias Ayuk received me like a long-lost brother, and told me that UNU had been established in the 1970’s, as a think tank to advice the United Nations on different development challenges. UNU was endowed by the Japanese government with an initial 100 million dollars, and by now their endowment is closer to 300 million dollars. All their monies come from the interest on the endowment or from grants, and they don’t receive a penny from the United Nations (the idea is that they can be a truly independent consultative body that cannot be financially pressured by UN representatives). They have different working groups in Tokyo, Helsinki, Ghana, and 14 other countries, each with their own specialty. They are not a university in the sense that they don’t have students, although some of the working groups have shared doctoral programs with their host universities. In the Ghana group, the Institute for Natural Resources of Africa, they have four senior researchers, a few post-docs, and in the next three years would like to offer doctorate degrees in Policy for Development of Renewable Resources, Policy for a Green Economy, and Policy for Development of Non-Renewable Resources. I told Dr. Ayuk about my interest in Water Resources in Ethiopia, but I don’t think Ethiopia is really in their radar.

The students got back their midterms, which were OK but a bit disorganized regarding the one essay question. Here is the scenario: “You have been hired as Water Resources Manager for the small Western Colorado municipal service area of Nowhere, USA. The municipality includes a town of 40,000 people (which swells to 100,000 in the winter with sky enthusiasts) and sits amidst a valley that is 50 by 30 miles. The town occupies 3 square miles, but the municipality has set aside and additional 3 square miles to accommodate for future growth (population increases at a rate of 2% every year).”

“The municipality wants to develop the valley with apple orchards, to take advantage of the spring and summer rains, which on average deliver 12 inches of precipitation over those two seasons. Precipitation is larger in the fall and winter, but most of it falls as snow in the surrounding mountains.”

The valley has three tributary rivers, which come together to form the Anywhere River, which flows through the town.”

To try to get across the method I would use to write such an essay I started with writing an outline, then concentrated all the math in an attached spreadsheet, an finally fleshed the essay by developing each of my outline subjects into a full paragraph. I hope they appreciated the effort, which took the first of the four hours of lecture we had today.

In one of the breaks someone mentioned The Hub Restaurant, in campus, as a good but pricey place. It took me a while to find it, but what a find! It is an American style restaurant, where you would pay US$ 8 for a good hamburger with fries, and US$ 6 for a tasty Greek salad. Totally worth the price!

Tomorrow I need to write down my midterm evaluation, so I am going to suggest that USAC adds to the campus map both the Bush Canteen (cheap Ghanaian food) and The Hub Restaurant (a bit pricey but good American-style restaurant). I think this would go a long way to helping the homesick students feel at home.

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