The fingers of the hand are not equal in length” – Ghanaian Proverb
This proverb means while each person contributes to the common good, their individual contributions will be different, but each contributes to the common good. Suzanne and I feel there have been many hands laid on us, helping us, driving us, packing us, or moving us, and waving good-bye. Each hand a cluster of friends, family, and loved ones who have helped us reach this new place that is to become our home.
“Many hands make light work” – something all mothers say.
Meaning that when many help, no one person carries the burden. We arrived mid day, and our friends at Ashesi were there to meet us, and deliver us and our luggages (as they say) to our new home, a bungalow on the Ashesi Campus. It feels so strange and wonderful to be back. Thanks to everyone who has made this move possible.
Where Are Your Men?
It’s Sunday, and the good news is we have a ride to church. The bad news is that ride starts about 20 kilometers away and a long walk down a tall mountain. Living on the Ashesi campus is wonderful because, on the mountain, there is almost always a breeze. However, going anywhere begins with a five cedi ride down the mountain, or 30 minute walk. So when we came upon a trotro about five minutes into the walk, sitting by the side of the road and mostly filled with students, I had to ask, “Where are you going?”
“Kwabenya Junction,” the driver said, which was most of the way where our ride would pick us.
“May we join you?” I ask. The driver asks a woman in the second row of seats, who says, “you may come.” She motions to students sitting in the first row to move, they scatter to the back seats and she motions us to sit there. Harriett, tells us this trotro has been sent by ICGC, or International Centre Gospel Church, a large evangelical, non-denominational church in Ghana that has “circuits,” as they are called, in most villages. Each Sunday, church leaders call Harriett asking how many will come, and then either send a trotro, that seats 20-30, or a car, which seats 5-6. Trotros are run down, cattery minibuses that seat 20-30 people, and are the backbone of local transport in Ghana.
This trotro has about 20 Ashesi students, all women. Talking with several about where they are from, what their year is, their majors… Suzanne abruptly asks, “Where are your men?” For the last few months I had been feeling that my ministry here should begin by focusing on the men, so I’m really interested in Herriot’s answer. “Ah actually, they are around,” she says, and the trotro erupts in animated conversation. Seeing the lack of men in this trotro, felt like God saying to me, “See, this is why I brought you here!” The trotro arrives at ICGC in Kwabenya, drops us, and we walk 10 minutes road side to where our friend will meet us, feeling blessed with a since of purpose confirmed.
Now it is Thursday, and I am teaching Leadership One to sixty of the “freshers” or freshman class. For some reason, students come and go during class. I combat this by keeping the lecture rivetingly interesting, but during the small group discussion, two young men come and go, leaving the classroom to return five minutes later. So, when they are back, I lean over their desk, catch their eyes and say, ”Please see me after class.” It is not a question. At the time, I remember thinking I would make an example of them, but as they approached after class saying, “You wanted to see us?” I felt the LORD lead me in another way.
“Are you OK?”, I asked the leader of the two. I saw relief in his face. “I saw you had to leave class several times, and wanted to make sure you were OK.” It was his eye, I noticed, it was swollen. The next day he is wearing glasses and looks much better and he tells me it was an infected contact, and that had caused his eye to swell. I was glad I had not made him an example, because now there is some connection.
It has been a good beginning, and I look forward to what is next.
Ashesi is an Amazing Place
Ashesi University College is an amazing place, with faculty and staff as impressive and dedicated as I have ever seen. Among the faculty, there are degrees from Swarthmore (owing to Founder and President Patrick Awuah’s influence, I expect), Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Connecticut College and UT Austin (that’s me!), plus schools in India and the U.K., and many more I will find out later.
This week I had meetings set with key members of the administrative staff. This is my first experience with having the opportunity, from week one, to get to know the people I’ll be working with in such a systematic and also personal way. I am certainly not the only person who is giving up things (larger salaries, creature comforts) to be here, and several people were interested in sharing their faith and journey with me; I discovered that God didn’t just call me to this place, but others too, which is an amazing thing to ponder. I can’t say that I know what all this means, but at the least, it means that God has plans for Ashesi, and that those of us being obedient to our own callings to be here are just one cog in the wheel of the bigger plans—and I am thrilled to be part of this bigger plan!
I also met with the ASC (Ashesi Student Council) this week, my first group interactions with students, and how delightful! The Provost and I came with a small agenda item, letting the students know that the College of Wooster President would be visiting in a few weeks, and asking them how we might schedule time with Ashesi students into his schedule. They took it and ran—discussed, debated, etc., and in 30 minutes came up with a plan (an hour long panel including Ashesi students and Dr. Cornwell), a topic (the pros and cons of a liberal arts education in Ghana), and even picked four students from the four years to be on the panel! They are an impressive bunch.