Happy birthday Jovana!

Ghana Summer 2012 Blog

Written by: Alessondra Springmann

June 22, 2012

Lunch here is not like it is in the US: it's so hot outside that a lot of students simply eat breakfast and dinner, skipping lunch because it costs more money or because you don't want to be in a kitchen.  Several of the students cook a bunch of food at the beginning of the week, but that's not so much an option for us because the power goes out occasionally at our apartment for hours on end.

Having taught at MEET in summer 2010, I found that the various snack breaks and lunch breaks were the best times to get to know the students outside of labs.  With the equatorial sun and intense heat and not many places to sit outside, it's harder to break outside of the lab setting.  We'll let you know how that progresses.  I know AITI isn't about creating games, but maybe I can score a flying disc and we can teach them Ultimate.  May be hard to play in business casual, however...

The few students who do eat in the local cafeterias on campus have been good about showing us the various options, explaining the different systems in each dining hall of how to order food, and telling us what's good.  The food here is very different from anything I've tried in terms of texture and taste, especially this fish sauce substance called "pepe".  The students talk about their film preferences and argue over the raw input reading methods in Python.  I let slip to a couple yesterday that Jovana's (technical lead instructor) birthday was on Thursday (today), and the ringleader of Team 6 who demolished the chocolate challenge said he'd do something.

Today he came up to me and said, "it's Jovana's birthday today, yes?"  I confirmed, and he sent a deputy up to the front of the classroom to make an announcement, which turned into everyone's standing up and singing "Happy Birthday!" to Jovana, who was then presented with a gift of a bag made out of kente cloth and jewelery made out of Ghanaian beads.  Pretty awesome.  I guess I should friend them on Facebook so they can figure out when mine is...

On the note of birthdays, the day of the week on which you were born is a big deal, and sometimes the weekday of your birth is incorporated into your name.  LiAn didn't know what day of the week she was born on, and just like the guidebook said, the students were incredulous!  Fortunately, the morning's lab involved writing a program to look up the weekday you were born on given your birthdate, so we were able to rectify the situation quite rapidly.

The students seem to be taking to git quite well (though they can't pronounce the difference between "git" and "get", which is amusing), as well as the tougher challenge problems we're presenting them today.  LiAn and I are drafting presentations on problem solving and teamwork, which we'll use to segway into future talks on team formation, leadership, and the process of evaluating ideas.