Come Explore With Me http://comeexplorewithme.com Travel the world, do the unexpected Sun, 26 Aug 2012 21:20:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Fighting fires in Harper City, Maryland County, Liberia http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/08/26/fighting-fires-in-harper-city-maryland-county-liberia/ Sun, 26 Aug 2012 21:20:52 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1747 We have a fire department here in Harper City.  I’ve never seen a fire truck, nor have I seen designated fire fighters. In fact I have not seen any fire extinguishers anywhere on campus.  Having lived in an apartment complex and experienced a devastating fire, I think about fire safety very often.

Fire station, Harper City, Maryland County.

Fire station, Harper City, Maryland County.

Walking across campus the other day I noticed smoke on the horizon. Not knowing about any three digit emergency numbers here in Liberia, I called the university security command center to report what I saw.

There's a fire in the fields behind Tubman Hall, the faculty residences. Luckily it is the rainy season so  the ground and the shrubbery are wet, retarding its growth.

There's a fire in the fields behind Tubman Hall, the faculty residences. Luckily it is the rainy season so the ground and the shrubbery are wet, retarding its growth.

They reassured me the matter would be handled promptly. What I saw next first shocked me, then evoked hysterical laughter, then set me wondering what would happen if the fire was in one of the buildings rather than in the fields, or if this fire in the fields was happening during the dry rather than the rainy season!

Our trusted security guard goes out alone, armed with his night stick, to beat the flames until they are extinguished.  It was a long, long fight as the flames easily danced away.

Our trusted security guard goes out alone, armed with his night stick, to beat the flames until they are extinguished. It was a long, long fight as the flames easily danced away.

Crazy, crazy, crazy! What do you suggest I do? What would you do?

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July 26, 2012 – Liberia’s165th anniversary of independence http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/26/july-26-2012-liberias165th-anniversary-of-independence/ Thu, 26 Jul 2012 21:48:45 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1737 July 26, 2012! One hundred sixty-five years of independence! The oldest republic in Africa, and along with Ethiopia, one of only two continental African countries, never colonized. In fact, again with Ethiopia, and with Haiti, Liberia was one of only three black ruled republics in the mid-19th century! Fascinating!

So here I am hanging out with my neighbors listening to Gamble & Huff tunes, enjoying ice-cold coconut water, crispy fried plantain chips and engaged in leisurely conversation. As the stories spill I am even more fascinated by the connections existing between Liberia and Jamaica – celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence within two weeks – far-reaching historical connections.

Eli Budu Tubman, nephew of William V. S. Tubman celebrates his birthday, that is also Liberia's independence day, rocking to the sounds of Gamble & Huff.

Eli Budu Tubman, nephew of William V. S. Tubman celebrates his birthday, that is also Liberia's independence day, rocking to the sounds of Gamble & Huff.

Eli Alexander Budu Tubman, son of Alexander Glenn Tubman, and nephew of William V. S. Tubman, the 19th and longest serving president (1944-1971), has joined the College of Arts & Sciences as professor of history. From him I learned that Charles Dunbar Burgess King, 17th President of Liberia (1920-30) dealt a severe blow to Garvey’s Liberia Project when he reneged on the country’s offer of land, giving that parcel of land instead to the Firestone Corporation for the production of rubber.

Helen Roberts-Evans shares the personal story of her great-grandmother coming to Liberia from Jamaica with the Garveyites, and although she has lived in several other countries always claims those ancestral lines, even now living on a section of Monrovia known as Kingston Beach.

Alex Bloteh Scere shares stories of independence day celebrations in prior years.

Alex Bloteh Scere shares stories of independence day celebrations in prior years.

Alexander Blotey Scere, nephew of Eli is also here with us. He makes public the open secret that today is also Eli’s 68th birthday. And, in true Liberian style Alex says Eli’s brother, Toe, is his mother’s youngest brother. I then ask why not simply say Eli and Alex’s mother are siblings. The clarification – one ma, not same pa – is offered. Things that make you go Hmmm!

Happy July 26th! No, we didn’t participate in the parades, opting for lessons from history instead.

 

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Abidjan and Accra still elude me! http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/13/abidjan-and-accra-still-elude-me/ http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/13/abidjan-and-accra-still-elude-me/#comments Fri, 13 Jul 2012 21:22:31 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1717 I was at the Ghanaian Embassy when it opened on the morning after arriving in Monrovia. Checking my passport the representative said I was only eligible for an in-transit visa because I had neither a resident permit nor a re-entry permit for Liberia.

The realization hit hard, I was an undocumented “alien” in Liberia! I covered the two blocks between the Ghanaian Embassy and Tubman University’s Monrovia office as if Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake were chasing me. Immediately the necessary paperwork was filed and for USD$50.00 each I now have the permits. Whew!

Iona Thomas, Patricia Jones and I went sight seeing around Monrovia. In Congo Town we asked for a tour of the Palm Springs Resort. The view from the fourth floor balcony was worth the  USD$200.00 per night room rate.

Iona Thomas, Patricia Jones and I went sight seeing around Monrovia. In Congo Town we asked for a tour of the Palm Springs Resort. The view from the fourth floor balcony was worth the USD$200.00 per night room rate.

Exhausted from all that emotional roller-coaster, I kept nodding off when going from place to place with colleagues Massa, Iona, and Patricia. Finally Iona, the nurse, who had been asking all day if I was okay insisted that I go to the nearest clinic for a checkup.

It was a cool rainy day, but the sweat was oozing out of my pores. I took the blood test for malaria. The result said 3+. I didn’t know what it meant, because I also saw negative on the same line. Massa exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! You have to get a prescription for the medicine right now.”

Before succumbing to the malaria I went shopping for traditional African clothing. In the Randall & Benson Streets section of town the streets are lined with dress shops staffed by tailors - men, each with his own sewing machine ready to make any alterations needed.

Before succumbing to the malaria I went shopping for traditional African clothing. In the Randall & Benson Streets section of town the streets are lined with dress shops staffed by tailors - men, each with his own sewing machine ready to make any alterations needed.

Mine was a severe case – most people test at 1+. Twenty four yellow tablets to be taken four at a time morning and evening for three days and twenty blue and white tablets to be taken one at a time morning and evening for ten days. Sleep claimed my body for twenty of every twenty-four hours for the next three days. So much for visiting Accra, Ghana!

Compound of the Chinese Embassy seen from the fourth floor balcony of the Palm Springs Resort.

Compound of the Chinese Embassy seen from the fourth floor balcony of the Palm Springs Resort.

Flying from Monrovia to Accra was Plan B after Plan A, the road trip from Harper to Cote d’Ivoire and then to Ghana had to be quickly scrapped. Tragically, nine members of an UN Peacekeeping troop were murdered in one of the towns on the Liberian-Ivorian border. The entire border was closed. The first stop on the road trip would have been San Pedro, formerly part of Maryland County, known then as Maryland-in-Africa, before being incorporated into Liberia.

In the rainy season unpaved road become muddy and crater like pot holes are formed. Here a schoolbus is tuck in the slush. After unloading all the passengers it is pulled out by the truck. No AAA here.

In the rainy season unpaved road become muddy and crater like pot holes are formed. Here, on the road to Monrovia, a schoolbus is stuck in the slush. After unloading all the passengers it is pulled out by the truck. No auto clubs or roadside service here.

Other stops would be Abidjan and Yamoussoukro, home to Our Lady of Peace, the world’s largest Basilica, said to be built with US$300 million of then President Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s personal funds. Finally, in Accra I would visit with my friend Ameliah and her son Kofi.

Plan B required taking the 14 hour road trip to Monrovia, getting that visa to Ghana and purchasing the $350.00 round trip ticket. We are now in the rainy season that makes Liberia the country with 163 inches of rainfall per year, so what would be considered passable roads are now muddy. Vehicles get stuck and/or spin into skids as if traveling on slushy, snowy roads.

Mask in the lobby of the Palm Springs Resort.

Mask in the lobby of the Palm Springs Resort.

I had visions of flitting from one country to the next among the sixteen countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) while living in Liberia. I knew I needed visas since I would be traveling on a USA, not an ECOWAS passport. I did not reckon on being an undocumented “alien”. I definitely didn’t plan on having malaria – my 90 day supply ran out and foolishly, I neglected to do anything about it.

I was so happy to see this cosmos. It survived in the soil and resisted the deathsteps of all the security guards who walked over and through my garden. None of the sunflower or other cosmos seeds survived.

I was so happy to see this cosmos when I returned home. It survived in the sandy soil and resisted the crushing steps of all the security guards who walked over and through my garden. None of the sunflower or other cosmos seeds survived.

Well, I’m back in Harper – malaria free and a documented resident who can now leave and return to Liberia. All is well that ends well.

 

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Goodbye, Sydney O. Beaumont, Ph.D. http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/10/goodbye-sydney-o-beaumont-ph-d/ http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/10/goodbye-sydney-o-beaumont-ph-d/#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2012 21:21:00 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1704 I was playing around with my new Flip video camera so decided to interview him, my Uncle Sydney, the only uncle on my father’s side of the family. He was born on March 9, 1918. Leslie, my Dad, born July 14, 1920 preceded him in death on November 1, 2006.

Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Sydney (Ezra Fider in background) at the funeral of his younger brother, Leslie R. Beaumont, Snr.

Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Sydney, with cousin Ezra Fider in the background, at the funeral of his younger brother, Leslie R. Beaumont, Snr.

Of course I’ve known him all my life, knew that he and the love of his life Dorothy Elaine West Beaumont were married December 27th, 1950, and that he so desperately wanted to outlive her, so he would always be there when she called. She was in the advanced stages of dementia; he was having problems with his sight.

Uncle Sydney with fresh picked lychee from his farm. Each bunch would be shared among the relatives and family friends. Everybody enjoyed the harvest.

Uncle Sydney with fresh picked lychee from his farm. Each bunch would be shared among the relatives and family friends. Everybody enjoyed the harvest.

That summer afternoon, two years ago, we chatted for hours on his verandah. The verandah cradled in fruit trees, many of which they planted over the almost fifty years of living in the same home. The enclosed verandah with tables covered with books, newspapers, and pamphlets. As an academician and author he was an avid reader. The verandah on which I played with my cousins, his five sons, while waiting for my Dad to pick me up after a day at Beaumont’s Comprehensive College, the school he founded after giving up the presidency of then West Indies Training College, now Northern Caribbean University.

Uncle Sydney with the three books completed in retirement in competition with his Rotarian volunteerism..

Uncle Sydney with the three books completed in retirement competing with his Rotarian volunteerism.

I did not know that at 25 years of age he left sunny Jamaica to pursue higher education in Lincoln, Nebraska on a scholarship to the Seventh-Day Adventist Union College. I didn’t know that while he was there in Nebraska that his winter coat was among the first purchases my Dad made from his pay for picking fruit on a farm in New Jersey. I didn’t know that he earned his doctoral degree from New York University in 1950.

Sydney O. Beaumont, Ph.D.

Sydney O. Beaumont, Ph.D. March 9, 1918 - July 9, 2012

We reminisced about the time he, Aunt Dorothy, and Daddy came to pick me up from the airport in Montego Bay, the other side of the island from Mandeville, Manchester where he lived. Daddy was driving, but he was the navigator weaving us through the maze of one-way streets back to the highway. We laughed and laughed as we remembered how I insisted on getting fried fish, bammy, and festival at the Westmoreland-St. Elizabeth border and how the car was swarmed with what seemed to be hundreds of vendors enticing us to buy with promises of a “brawta” of one extra fish and festival.

 

Sports complex at Northern Caribbean University. Uncle Sydney served as president 1962-1964 when it was known as West Indies Training College.

Sports complex at Northern Caribbean University. Uncle Sydney served as president 1962-1964 when it was known as West Indies Training College.

My sister Marcia’s text showed up on my phone at 2:17 a.m. Liberian time; sent at 10:17 p.m. from Tampa, Fl. Five hours later I read the two sentences. “Hi Jennie, have some bad news. Uncle Sydney passed away today.” July 9, 2012. Disbelief!

Lychee tree

Lychee tree

I’m too far away to come home to see him go home. I’ll look at that amateur video taken with shaky hands and listen again and again to the story about him winning that political seat for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) that the People’s National Party (PNP) had “locked up” for 27 years, and then becoming Speaker of the House. Yes, my Uncle Sydney taught me to do the unexpected at every opportunity. I love him so much!

What tugs at your heart today?

 

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A canoe trip across the Hoffman River, Maryland County, Liberia http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/08/a-canoe-trip-across-the-hoffman-river-maryland-county-liberia/ Sun, 08 Jul 2012 22:17:33 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1688 “Yes!” was my immediate answer to Rev. Rita Townsend’s question – “Do you want to come out to play?” Today it was a canoe trip across the Hoffman River. Affectionately called Rev. Rita, she serves Tubman University as the Vice-President for Institutional Affairs, but most importantly makes sure we enjoy what Harper City offers.

Rev.  Rita Townsend, Vice President, Institutional Advancement, and chief fun organizer for the TU staff.

Rev. Rita Townsend, Vice President, Institutional Advancement, and chief fun organizer for the TU staff.

After preaching the morning service to her newly formed Episcopalian congregation she comes by the Tubman Hall residence where colleagues Marie Simmons and Melville Harding join us on this adventure. We drive along Maryland Avenue into downtown Harper, going past the ruins of homes screaming the war-interrupted stateliness of the city.

Ruins of the stately homes owned by the Anderson family, one of Harper City's famously wealthy families.

Ruins of the stately homes owned by the Anderson family. Along with the Tubmans, Coopers, and Yancys, the Andersons are among Harper City's famously wealthy families.

Turning right on “the 18”, the city’s main drag, we head toward the market that sits on the Hoffman River. On most days we get freshly caught fish directly from the canoes. Looking through the back window we can see the Atlantic Ocean. A few feet to our left is the Upper Cape forming the point of confluence for the river and the ocean.

Mount Scott United Methodist Church, seen from across the Hoffman River.

Mount Scott United Methodist Church, seen from across the Hoffman River.

The first order of business as we get out of the car is to find a canoe owner/operator who will take us on this ride for an affordable price. We are talking with the fishermen who are mostly of the Fanti group originating in Ghana. The owner says gas will cost about 1,000.00 Liberian dollars so we agree to pay 250 Liberian dollars each (less than USD $4.00) and then an additionally 400 Liberian dollars for his time.

Melville Harding, faculty in the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, relaxes while we wait on the canoe to be ready for the trip across the Hoffman River.

Melville Harding, faculty in the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, relaxes while we wait on the canoe to be ready for the trip across the Hoffman River.

With this verbal agreement we wait for him to get the gas and install the portable motor before scrambling onto the vessel the best we could. It is important to note here that the waterfront is not a pretty sight. Public toilets from the market abut with a shoreline that is used by humans and animals. Luckily the tide is in and the canoe can be pulled very far onto the shore for us to get in without making contact with the water.

Marie Simmons, faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences with me on the beach after our canoe ride across the Hoffman River.

Marie Simmons, faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences with me on the beach after our canoe ride across the Hoffman River.

Ten minutes later we are on the other side of the Hoffman River that separates Harper City from Big Town and takes us to a much cleaner beach. The large defunct post office on the edge of the river reminds us of the days when postal mail came by boat from Monrovia. We walked the beach collecting shells and sand dollars.

Harper's former post office was at the confluence of the Hoffman River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Harper's former post office was at the confluence of the Hoffman River and the Atlantic Ocean.

By the time we made the return trip to Harper the tide was out. The dilemma was how to get off the canoe without making contact with all the refuse along the shore. Our canoe owner/operator had the solution – he would lift each of us off the vessel and carry us to the dry land. Can you imagine our hysterical laughter watching each person being lifted off? I’m so glad I was the one with the camera because I’m sure it would not have been a glamorous snapshot seeing him with my pocketbook slung around his neck and me being carried like a child on his back.

Rev. Rita being carried off the canoe onto the shore.

Rev. Rita being carried off the canoe onto the shore.

What a funny and unexpected end to an adventure! How about your day? What was the unexpected experience?

 

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Improving teacher preparation in Liberia http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/04/improving-teacher-preparation-in-liberia/ http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/04/improving-teacher-preparation-in-liberia/#comments Wed, 04 Jul 2012 21:58:11 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1669 Education is a high priority area for the Government of Liberia. According to the Ministry of Education there is no accurate count of the number of teachers currently working in the country, nor a clear assessment of how many more are needed to meet the needs. Like most countries there is an intricate mix of public, denominational, and private schools. In Harper City,  Cape Palmas is the only public school among the six high schools.

The Weebo Rural Teacher Training Institute is nestled in one of the villages of River Gee County that borders Maryland County, Liberia.

The Weebo Rural Teacher Training Institute is nestled in one of the villages of River Gee County that borders Maryland County, Liberia.

At the primary level very few teachers have much more than a high school diploma. In an effort to improve teacher preparation there are partnerships between Rural Teacher Training Institutes (RTTI) and four-year colleges like Tubman University (TU).

All 90+ students live on the campus of the Weebo Teacher Training Institute. Daily meals are prepared in this kitchen. Fresh bread is baked in the large oven on the round palate.

All 90+ students live on the campus of the Weebo Teacher Training Institute. Daily meals are prepared in this kitchen. Fresh bread is baked in the large oven on the round palate.

TU’s partner is the Weebo RTTI at Konowbroken, in the neighboring county of River Gee. Students from TU’s College of Education serve as mentors to students at the WRTTI.

The mural being created, on the Administration Building, by the College of Education students enrolled in the Teaching through the Arts course this summer.

The mural being created, on the Administration Building, by the College of Education students enrolled in the Teaching through the Arts course this summer.

 

WRTTI, like TU, targets students in the southeastern region of Liberia. The one year program ends with a graduation on July 21st, 2012. As a vacation project several TU students, in the College of Education, are creating a mural on the Administration Building as partial fulfillment of requirements for the course Teaching through the Arts.

Victoria Gebur works in the president's office and is a Dean's List student in the College of Education

Victoria Gebur works in the president's office and is a Dean's List student in the College of Education.

I am anxiously awaiting the removal of the scaffolding to see the finished product. What keeps you waiting to exhale?

 

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Alive and Kicking in Harper City, Maryland County, Republic of Liberia http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/01/alive-and-kicking-in-harper-city-maryland-county-republic-of-liberia/ http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/07/01/alive-and-kicking-in-harper-city-maryland-county-republic-of-liberia/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 03:19:45 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1655 Whew! I am so excited to be connected to you again. Five months of wishing and hoping for today. It has taken me five months to learn:

1. Electrical systems need transformers – step-up and step-down – to regulate the flow. There are no power grids here. Each institution and/or home that has electriciy self-provides using generators of varying capacities. The university’s system feeds the current directly into our homes. It is up to us, the residents to get the equipment to protect our computers and appliances from the surges. I got this “power station” after my printer cord and cable converter box sizzled one Sunday morning.

Jennifer's power station

Jennifer's in-home power station. I have a transformer/regulator (the black and white box) to protect my appliances from power surges. It allows me to plug in appliances using 110V as well as those using 220 V. So I added two extension cords one for the 110 V appliances and one for the other appliances. The other black box is a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) that gives me about 30 additional minutes of power when the electricity goes off.

2. A cash only society means more than just not being able to use a credit or debit card to make purchases in Liberia. To my chagrin it also means that I am unable to make credit card purchases online for delivery to my sister’s address in the USA. The compressor on my computer gave up the ghost at the end of April. There seemed to be no replacement parts easily accessible in Harper. Calls to computer stores in Monrovia didn’t just want the part number, they wanted to see the computer as much of the spare parts are actually used parts. The decision was made to get a new computer. Bestbuy to the rescue I thought.

Can you imagine the frustration and sense of hopelessness when 10 minutes after placing the order and getting an approval code, there was an email message cancelling the order? That experience continues to be repeated at sites from which I had been ordering since I arrived here in January. No, the card has not been maxed out. Amazon seems to be the only online site accepting orders from Liberia. Apparently orders cannot be placed from IP addresses originating in Liberia. Talk about isolation!

3. Our local hospital – J. J. Dossen – functions without a surgical team. Every two months a medical team from the Tappita Hospital takes the eight hour drive, one way, to Harper for three days of surgery.

Dr. Sodey Lake, Nursing Director, Jackson F. Doe Memorial Regional Referral Hospital, Tappita, Nimba County, Liberia

Dr. Sodey Lake, Nursing Director, Jackson F. Doe Memorial Regional Referral Hospital, Tappita, Nimba County, Liberia. Dr. Lake along with Dr. Francis Kateh, the Medical Director, bring a team of doctors and nurses to perform surgeries, at no cost to the patients, at Harper's J.J. Dossen Hospital.

4. We will still have fun even when all the things we consider necessary for living, communication and health care seem to go awry. Patricia Jones and I took a trip to Prollo, Cote d’Ivoire in March. Getting from Liberia to Cote d’Ivoire near Harper means crossing the Cavalla River. We took the canoe, sans life jackets.

Jennifer and Patricia crossing the Cavalla River from Liberia to Cote d'Ivoire by canoe

Jennifer and Patricia crossing the Cavalla River from Liberia to Cote d'Ivoire by canoe.

5. Reverend Rita Townsend introduced a group of us to “The Rock”. A splendid way to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean without gambling with the riptides and undertows.

Rev. Rita Townsed, Tubman University's VP for Institutional Advancement introduces newcomers to "The Rock" - a special lookout point for enjoying the Atlantic Ocean. My first visit here was shared with Rev. Rita (foreground) and Iona Thomas-Connor, Chair, Nursing Department in the College of Health Sciences.

Rev. Rita Townsed, Tubman University's VP for Institutional Advancement introduces newcomers to "The Rock" - a special lookout point for enjoying the Atlantic Ocean. My first visit here was shared with Rev. Rita (foreground) and Iona Thomas-Connor, Chair, Nursing Department in the College of Health Sciences.

What has been happening in your life these past months? Birthdays, graduations, christenings, retirement parties . . . I’ve missed them all!

 

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Harper City welcomes the National Association of University Women http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/02/25/harper-city-welcomes-the-national-association-of-university-women/ http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/02/25/harper-city-welcomes-the-national-association-of-university-women/#comments Sat, 25 Feb 2012 22:44:18 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1638 Saturday, February 18, 2012. The National Association of University Women (NAUW) chartered its first international branch at Tubman University. The ten-member delegation from the USA representing the 102 year old organization founded by Mary Church Terrell in Washington, DC, inducted 19 charter members in the conference room of the Administration Building.

Some charter members of the National Association of University Women's first international branch at Tubman University. Jeanette Jacobson, Jennifer Dioh, Iona Thomas-Connor, Sister Philomena, Myth Carbajosa, Annie Macalaland, Massa Clemens and Patricia Jones.

Eight of the nineteen charter members of the National Association of University Women's first international branch at Tubman University. Jeanette Jacobson, Jennifer Dioh, Iona Thomas-Connor, Sister Philomena, Myth Carbajosa, Annie Macalaland, Sola Dawodu, and Patricia Jones.

We started out in all white for the ceremony, leaving with green rosettes pinned on our left shoulders by members of the delegation. Tailors in Harper must have been extremely busy in the weeks leading up to the event. The fashion show was on. Beautiful dresses, traffic stopping shoes,

Cinderella?

Cinderella?

and multicolored nails declared unique personal statements.

Mary Kay is in the house.

Mary Kay is in the house.

The reception immediately following the ceremony featured Harper City’s Mayor Regina Sampson offering the traditional Grebo (the indigenous people of Maryland County) welcome of koala nuts, coconut squares, and raw cassava cubes served with ground hot, hot red pepper;

Mayor Regina Sampson offers the traditional Grebo welcome of koala nuts, coconut squares, and raw cassava cubes with ground red hot pepper.

Mayor Regina Sampson offers the traditional Grebo welcome of koala nuts, coconut squares, and raw cassava cubes with ground red hot pepper.

a rendition of Liberia’s national anthem in the Grebo language by Mr. Wurth, teacher of Grebo at Tubman University (the only institution in Liberia where Grebo is taught);

Mr. Wurth sings the Liberian national anthem in his native tongue, Grebo. Tubman University is the only institution in Liberia that teaches Grebo.

Mr. Wurth sings the Liberian national anthem in his native tongue, Grebo. Tubman University is the only institution in Liberia that teaches Grebo.

and the exchanging of proclamations.

Mayor Regina Sampson receives a proclamation from the Mayor of Pine Bluffs.

Mayor Regina Sampson receives a proclamation from the Mayor of Pine Bluffs.

The day ended with a gospel concert headlined by Minister Kanvee Gaines Adams, one of the top gospel recording artists in Liberia.

Kanvee Gaines Adams uses song to minister to the packed auditorium in Harper's City Hall.

Kanvee Gaines Adams shares the trials and triumphs of her life through song, with the packed auditorium in Harper's City Hall.

Supporting performers included the Ebenezer Baptist Church’s youth choir. It was a rocking praise worship session.

 

Members of the Ebenezer Baptist Church youth choir dance their way off the stage.

Members of the Ebenezer Baptist Church youth choir dance their way off the stage.

Sunday, February 19, 2012. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord was the unmistakable theme at Mount Scott United Methodist Church. With a continued celebration of the NAUW delegation, choir master Andrew Forbie began the spiritual journey guided by the Rev. Dr. Anthony Dioh, Senior Pastor, and Tubman University’s Vice President of Student Affairs.

Rev. Dioh, Senior Pastor of Mount Scott United Methodist Church and his wife Jennifer (in peach) stand on church steps as the NAUW delegates and new inductees gather for pictures.

Rev. Dioh, Senior Pastor of Mount Scott United Methodist Church and his wife Jennifer (in peach) stand on church steps as the NAUW delegates and new inductees gather for pictures.

A potluck luncheon punctuated by the clicking of camera shutters and exchanging of email addresses brought the day to an early closure. These women needed to be well rested for that 4a.m. departure to Monrovia. The trip down was not an easy one and NAUW President Delores Owens became so ill, she had to be taken to the clinic in Fishtown.

Delores Owens, President, NAUW, Melody Dawodu future inductee I'm sure, with her Mom Sola Dawodu and Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, President, Tubman University.

Delores Owens, President, NAUW, Melody Dawodu future inductee I'm sure, with her Mom Sola Dawodu and Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, President, Tubman University.

Any historic events in your world recently?

 

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Sky balloons all over Harper, Maryland County http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/02/15/sky-balloons-all-over-harper-maryland-county/ http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/02/15/sky-balloons-all-over-harper-maryland-county/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2012 19:39:55 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1629 When the lights go out we play. We had so much fun getting the sky balloons airborne, squealing with delight as they soared above and away from Tubman Hall, over the Academic Complex higher and higher, past the Administration Building, becoming a vanishing speck of light in the sky.We were having so much fun that the longer than usual electrical outage left us unperturbed. If Maryland County’s Harper-Pleebo-Fish Town area had a newspaper I’m sure there’d be an article about the sighting of two UFOs.

Our sky balloon has taken flight. We keep watching, wondering who else is enjoying our version of fireworks.

Jeanette, Patricia, Corrine, Lillian, Iona, Marie and Dr. Carbajosa watch as our sky balloon takes flight. We keep watching, wondering who else is enjoying our light show..

 

It was Brigitte’s birthday, the second Aquarian celebration in as many weeks. A native of Austria, and a psychologist, she is in the final year of her 3-year contract with the Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas conducting trauma healing workshops. She has a company car, the rest of us don’t, so it was decided that the party would be on campus. If we had gone into town to her place she would have had to play taxi shuttling us back home.

Our new big generator requires new wiring to work properly, so we are without electricity in the midst of Brigitte's birthday party. Local cell phones are all equipped with a flashlight. So our cellphone flashlights and candles illuminate the room.

Our new big generator requires new wiring to work properly, so we are without electricity in the midst of Brigitte's birthday party. Local cell phones are all equipped with a flashlight. So our cellphone flashlights and candles illuminate the room.

The vegetable rice, coleslaw, fried chicken, coconut tarts, and fresh pineapple were delicious, but the sky balloons were the highlight of the evening. Gifted to her by housemate Corrine, a UN employee from Germany, in her first year in Harper, the sky balloons are made of something like crepe paper, said to be biodegradable, and comes with a one-inch cube of candle wax without a wick.

Brigitte, Patricia, Corrine, and Dr. Carbajosa are launching the first sky balloon.

Brigitte, Patricia, Corrine, and Dr. Carbajosa are launching the first sky balloon.

Packaged as flat circles, the goal is to open up the balloon without damaging any of the seams. Think of opening a Hefty trash bag – when you start out all sides are stuck together, eventually however, with careful coaxing, a huge cavity is created when fully opened. The wax cube is then attached by the wire loop at the open end of the balloon. As we light the candle wax, which in itself is a challenge to do while attempting to shield the flame of the candle, stuck in the bottle candleholder, from the wind. The intake of air to keep the candle burning forces the sides to open up.

Indeed it is serious work, requiring deep concentration, to get the candle wax lit, especially when you are using a candle and the wind is blowing - just ask Brigitte, Lillian , Patricia, or Jeanette.

Indeed it is serious work, requiring deep concentration, to get the candle wax lit, especially when you are using a candle and the wind is blowing - just ask Brigitte, Lillian , Patricia, or Jeanette.

When the balloon is filled to capacity with air, it literally pulls away from our hands and heads for the open skies – hence the name sky balloons. We successfully launched two. As each went up we clapped, took pictures, called families we knew who had children telling them to watch, and just giggled like kids who had accomplished the impossible.

Up, up, and away our beautiful, beautiful sky balloon goes!

Up, up, and away our beautiful, beautiful sky balloon goes!

A memorable night filled with excitement and amazement. A memorable night that kept each of us present in the moment. A memorable night and an incredible gift to each of us.

UFO? No UFO? Just a sky balloon.

UFO? No UFO? Just a sky balloon.

Have you had one of those moments lately? What was the catalyst?

 

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Working in a live environment http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/02/12/working-in-a-live-environment/ http://comeexplorewithme.com/2012/02/12/working-in-a-live-environment/#comments Sun, 12 Feb 2012 20:54:52 +0000 http://comeexplorewithme.com/?p=1620 Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, TU’s president, called a meeting of all faculty and staff. We met in the gallery of the Academic Complex. If you are standing at the double doors, looking out of the building you can see Tubman Hall, the residences, across the field.

Several families of chickens roam the open areas near Tubman hall residences. I hear a few of these free-range chickens are going to be dinner very soon.

Several families of chickens roam the open areas near Tubman hall residences. I hear a few of these free-range chickens are going to be dinner very soon.

Still looking outward there is a huge plum (mango) tree to your right. The broad branches create a ready-made garage, shading the many motor bikes parked around its trunk, from the sun. The bus stops right in front of the building. To your left is the engineering building, its construction stalled until the government of Liberia releases more funds, or a partner is identified.

Dr. Elizabeth Carbajosa, VP,Academic Affairs with Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, President, Tubman University at the meeting for all staff and faculty.

Dr. Elizabeth Carbajosa, VP,Academic Affairs with Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, President, Tubman University at the meeting for all staff and faculty.

The university benefits from many partnerships. For example the Academic Complex as well as the co-ed dorm in progress are gifts from the Government of Morocco. The Visions in Action NGO supports the teacher education program simultaneously with the training of members of the Ivorian refugee camps to work with their young children.

The Tubman University bus brings employees and students onto the campus in the mornings, then to and from town at lunch time, and back into town in the evenings after work. Its a motorbike taxi is you miss the bus. Here Lillian is the first passenger on the bus heading back to campus after lunch. Yes, everybody takes lunch at the same time each day as the electricity goes off between 12 noon and 2p.

The Tubman University bus brings employees and students onto the campus in the mornings, then to and from town at lunch time, and back into town in the evenings after work. Its a motorbike taxi is you miss the bus. Here Lillian is the first passenger on the bus heading back to campus after lunch. Yes, everybody takes lunch at the same time each day as the electricity goes off between 12 noon and 2p.

As we are sitting in the gallery listening to her presentation the coming and going of motorbikes are distracting. Doc, as she is affectionately called, asks that the doors be closed. The whirring of ceiling fans, the shifting of bodies in white plastic patio chairs, an occasional cough, and Doc’s voice are all you hear for a while.

These goats, TU 1 and TU 2, were gifted to the university when it was opened.

These goats, TU 1 and TU 2, were gifted to the university when it was opened.

Then, from outside the walls, on the other side of the room across from the double doors, comes the bleating of goats. Laughter erupts as we all, including Doc, acknowledge the presence of TU1 and TU2 – goats gifted to the university when it opened, now belonging to the College of Agriculture and about to be transported to the farm. There is no denying it; we are in a live environment. That’s our accepted reality.

Ant hills are all over the campus. They represent over 10 years of work by the ants and house several thousand along with one queen who lives in the center.

Ant hills are all over the campus. They represent over 10 years of work by the ants and house several thousand along with one queen who lives in the center.

What’s your reality today? Have you accepted it?

 

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