Our students have learned a lot, but so have our professors. Their time in Sierra Leone has been rewarding, tiring, and enlightening despite all the scheduling conflicts and pouring rain. Yesterday was the end of the structured classes, and the professors are starting to run a Model United Nations Simulation today.
Workshops in open air
Joanne writes to us about her eighth day teaching at Fourah Bay College:
Another grey and gloomy day in Freetown promises more rain. No students attended my first session; only five or six attended my second session. However, those who attended were engaged and participated in our discussion about the paradox of value between diamonds and water, and why diamonds are linked to conflict in places like Sierra Leone. They easily saw the socially constructed nature of a ‘precious’ gem like diamonds and the link between conflict and the legacies of colonialism. As always, they were well-spoken and presented convincing arguments to support their views.Today is the last day of structured classes; because we do not have enough consistent students to carry out the final projects we had previously designed, we have decided to move the model UN to encompass the last two days, bringing all three classes together in this capstone activity. Students were very sweet in thanking us for our work and our contribution to their education. For me, they said I showed them how to structure their thinking about the world in a more systematic and interconnected way. That was very rewarding to hear.
I am very surprised to discover how much responsibility students take in the day-to-day administrative work. Each class has representatives that manage everything from finding out when tomorrow’s lecture is to communicating exam timetables to xeroxing readings and collecting money for various collective necessities. Students told me this morning that their 3pm lecture is confirmed but there’s only a 50% chance there will be a lecture at 1:30pm. These student committees seem to be doing the work of teams of administrative staff in UK and US universities!
After all their teachings, the team decided to explore the fun side of Freetown and went for some dinner and ice cream. We were told to keep the rest of the night to ourselves, but can assure you that they had lots of fun! This morning they were ready to head out bright and early, eager to fascilitate the MUN simulation.