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April 5, 2013

Ruby Turok-Squire ’16

Here are some fun things that will be happening thanks to Oberlin this semester:


  • Every year the Composition department chooses a piece to be performed by the Contemporary Music Ensemble here, and this year, my piece will be played in May! It's for 12 players, so thank god I didn't have to organise it all myself! I am excited, but also terrified at the thought of actually having other people hear something I've written for this many instruments. I'm hoping that as the musicians playing it are so good, they'll make something of it sound half decent!

  • The Creativity and Leadership program here offers grants to students with entrepreneurial projects that they want to pursue. I was awarded a grant of $2000 to help set up clean water facilities in a village that I lived and worked as a teacher in: Dodome Awuiasu, in the Volta region of Ghana. The locals call it the best village in Africa and I would have to agree!


    A student with a group of students waving at the camera

    I taught all day non stop, ignoring the goats and chickens that wandered through the classroom, and fell in love with my students. They are the most intelligent and dedicated young people I have ever met. It did not matter that we had no resources: they went from absolutely no mathematics knowledge to quadratic equations in less than a month. Every afternoon we went outside to make art, which had never been encouraged at the school. It was everyone's favourite time of day:

    A group of four students holding papers and flowers
    A group of four students coloring flowers

    I even taught a bit about evolution. Kept that one quiet with the local Evangelical church, where we spent 7 hours every Sunday, mostly dancing.

    Of course, they all supported Chelsea cos of Essien. I swallowed my Gunner pride.

    A group of students playing soccer
    In front of the school.

    A group of students posing for the photo and touching a soccer ball
    A leaving present.

    The village currently has no clean water. There's just a muddy river. So in June, I'll be heading back to see all of the kids I taught there two years ago and to distribute 80 large clay water filters, made by a charity called Pure Home Water in the Northern region that was set up by an MIT professor. It's all very high tech sustainability stuff. The clay acts as a natural filter and seems to be very effective, good value, and it lasts for ages. I'm really happy to be able to go back and help in a small way.

    While I was living in the village, I became very attached to a lot of the families there. I even got a new name: Nana Efua Akoto the First. Yep, they made me a queen of the village! Honestly, it's the most welcoming community I've ever been part of and if anyone out there is looking for an amazing volunteering experience, just let me know and I'll set you up! I'm sure it will be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster seeing everyone again, especially the children who were in my class. I'm incredibly proud of them and always miss them loads. I must say, I considered not coming to university myself and staying in the village for a few years to get them all to university! The current standard of teaching in rural schools like this one is very low, which made it even harder for me to leave, knowing that I was not able to help as much as I really wanted to. But I did fundraise for scholarships for two of the children that I met to go to a great school in conjunction with a charity called the Smartkids Foundation, so I'll get to see them graduate from Junior High this summer! Go Samuel (guy with cheeky smile in the last photo) and Patricia (really tall girl in the middle)!

    Many more photos to follow in June. I can't wait.

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