Talk about totally missing a possible cultural sensitivity thing: me explaining the innards of a computer today. A hard drive can be set as primary or secondary, also referred to as master or slave. Of course, I choose the latter terminology and don’t even realize that it might be inappropriate until somebody mentions it to make fun of my speech later. Whatever: the audience didn’t look offended and it got the point across. What’s really stupid is telling them to send in broken hard drives still under warranty to have them repaired: one can’t exactly throw down a few bucks to overnight a package to California from Ghana. Then again, this may be a moot point: I was probably talking too fast for most to understand what I was saying anyways:)
Tearing old computers apart is all we do at the first sight of the day: the power’s out across the whole campus. Everyone’s casual reaction is pretty much the polar opposite of what’d happen if Penn’s electricity died; people, including myself, get deeply distraught if the net’s down for a few minutes.
Fortunately, we have some repairs and training to do at a different, powered campus. At the administration offices, secretaries are so eager to learn that one actually forbids us from leaving Tamale until we’ve taught her. As she’s in the middle of getting her wish and I’m halfway through installing an operating system (translation: a very inopportune time), boom: power goes down here, too! Any possible hopes of waiting it out are promptly blown away by a large thunderstorm quickly engulfing the area.
We leave for the village of Kwawu Dah (sp) tomorrow morning, so tonight is a goodbye dinner. I receive what are probably 2 of the coolest and definitely 2 of the most unique gifts I’ve ever seen: a drum and a kente cloth smock. Both scream “handmade in Africa with care” so loudly that I’m tempted to sport them on a regular basis back home. We’ve spent a lot of time over the past days teaching the group of teachers we’re now leaving, and I really feel like we’re leaving behind more than just a bunch of computers and Penn Engineering t-shirts. And I’m definitely leaving Tamale with memories much more meaningful than any souvenirs.