Thursday, January 22, 2009
he has a fall back plan. I bought a snack there the other day.
The African youth soccer championship is going on right now. I saw
Ghana defeat Mali yesterday 2-0. Cornellians, you'll be pleased to
know that there were a handful of diehard fans who had the
equivalent of a cowbell and rang it the entire game.
Ghana is in white. One thing was surprising. Of the maybe 5000
people in the stands I saw one woman. So I expect more men
than women to go to a soccer game, but only one? And as far as
I could tell I was the only foreigner there. Nonetheless it was fun.
This was the first game of a doubleheader with the big match
afterwards. That one involved Rwanda. There was a huge
contingent of Rwanda fans who wore team colors,
had painted their faces and were dancing and cheering their team
on during the whole first game between Mali and Ghana.
It's hard to find cultural events here. The soccer game is the only
such thing I've done in 3+ weeks. There isn't much in the way of
performance in the city, and as far as I know there's only one
small museum in Kigali. Butare (2 hours away) is supposed to
have a very nice museum and there are famous dancers based there,
but that's about it for the whole country. It makes being a tourist
here different. The museums and shows you might
do in London simply don't exist here.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
new institution, about 12 years old. The math department is
only 3, it's first class graduates this fall. (They're on a different
schedule than back home).
Things are very different here. The students don't have internet
at home (some don't have electricity). They take about 8 classes
for 30 hours or more per week. This means I can't assign very
much homework, let alone the the outlandish amounts I usually
do. The curriculum is not what I would design. For the
mathematicians out there, measure theory and functional
analysis are part of the (required) undergrad curriculum. I don't
see how students can learn this material at a level we would
consider acceptable at home. I haven't talked to too many
students yet, but my small amount of anecdotal information backs
Other differences: Well, KIST is still being built and expanded.
There's a lot of land on the campus overgrown with weeds.
You could bring in some heavy equipment (which does exist in
Rwanda) to clear it away in a week. Instead a team of about
6 or 8 women work with hoes and are clearing it by hand. It
will take months. The lawn here is mowed by men with scythes.
Ok, they aren't the kind of things you picture the Grim
Reaper using, more like short swords. I haven't seen a
lawnmower in the 3 weeks I've been here.
I teach the entire second year class of math majors - they don't get to pick their major, they are placed in it. I have one small chalkboard which makes it a bit difficult, Sometimes I start to erase while students are still copying stuff down! The class representative is working on findinganother board. (Yeah, it's her job, not the custodian's or department head's)
Administration is different too. Profs carry their own chalk and erasers. I asked how to get an eraser. I was told the chair would give me a form that would allow me to get one at a central office where all supplies are housed. I rummaged through my office and found one in a box marked `stapler' instead. It seemed easier.
The location is kind of interesting. It's maybe a mile from the fancy
downtown area, Kiyovu, with all the shops, bars, restaurants etc. It
also abuts Nyamirambo, a *much* less affluent area that extends
for miles. Much less affluent meand that parts are lower middle class
and parts are slums. On of my students told me she lives in a
Nyamirambo ghetto. It's certainly worth walking around there,
and you can get lots of stuff cheaper there - that's where I got my haircut.
Finally there is one cultural difference that I don't think I will get used to. You have to close your office door because it's too noisy otherwise. The standard here is that people knock and enter without waiting for an answer. By American standards, people just barge into your office. Of course noone here takes offense.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
SEMESTER!! My one year of French back in the mid 80s