Archive for the 'Personal Reflections' Category

Carnegie Mellon in the fall!

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

I’ll be going to Carnegie Mellon University in the fall to start a PhD program in Engineering and Public Policy.  I really like school and am looking forward to being a full time student again!  I’m also thrilled to be doing a research program, in which we learn to solve “big messy” problems that are interdisciplinary.

The program should take about 4.5 years.  Yes, this means several more of the northern winters I keep trying to flee.  I guess I’ve had 6 years of reprieve in CA and in Africa, so I shouldn’t complain.  but I will.

in America for a few weeks

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I’m back in CA, trying to stock up on all the things I will want when I go back.  It is a bit overwhelming to shop for 6 months in a few weeks.  The main items I’m looking for are dried berries, spices, skin care, etc.  I like food that can last and will remind me of home.  It’s funny how a couple dried cranberries on my oatmeal in the morning really feels luxurious in Accra.
I will start the visa process for Eric soon; we are trying to get the “bona fides of marital relationship”.  That is, we need proof that we are in a real marriage.  This means letters from people who know us, or a lease together (we don’t have that), or proof of sharing finances (don’t have that either, since Ghana is so cash-based).  But we are working on it, and we do not know how long it will take.

quick update from Mrs Balebako!

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Yes, I’m married and it is wonderful.

Here are pictures of the ceremony, which was beautiful and so much fun.  I even told Eric again that I would love to do it again. 

We had our honeymoon for 3 days in the Volta region.  We walked from through the mountains, going between villages and staying the nights at guesthouses with beautiful views.   We saw a waterfall, lots of butterflies, beautiful birds, and even a python that thought he was hiding from us.  (We only looked from a distance).  And Eric shook some avocados from a wild avocado tree.  It was a fantastic time.

Now we are back to regular life, which seems like kind of a let down after the wedding and the honeymoon!  Ahh… if all of life could be the honeymoon stage.

Good bye 2009

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

2009 was an incredibly moving year, personally.  One year ago, I never would have guessed where I am now.  So much has happened; there has been the expected events such as finishing up Peace Corps and adjusting to office work life again. I’ve been sick and healthy.  And then there has been other news.  I’ve stayed in Africa, adapted to a new country, gotten engaged to my best friend, and missed both my brother’s wedding and my grandmother’s funeral.

How does one take stock of a year like that?  How can I  thank all the people who have brought joy to my life in the past year? How can I possibly express all my hopes and prayers for the next year?  In particular, I am praying for my aunt Sharon, and sending all the love and good vibes possible to her family.

Fave Books on Africa

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Here are some of the better books I have read that have helped me understand West Africa.  Most are by African authors, and most are worth the read whether you are particularly interested in Africa or not.

Une si longue letter (A Very Long Letter) is an incredible story about a Muslim woman faced with her husband’s decision to take a second wife after 30 years of marriage.

The Joys of Motherhood tackles the troubles of an illiterate woman who tries to live up to her culture’s expectation that she have many children.  It describes the poverty of her life with sympathy.
I consider Ake: The Years of Childhood the least accessible.  It is a beautifully written memoir of the author’s childhood, but it doesn’t have much of a plot.

  • Chinua Achebe         Things Fall Apart      (Nigeria)
  • Mariama Bâ       Une si longue lettre      (Senegal)
  • Buchi Emecheta       The Joys of Motherhood    (Nigeria)
  • Wole Soyinka           Ake: The Years of Childhood      (Nigeria)
  • Robert Sapolsky         A Primate’s Memoir  (Kenya )
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  Half a Yellow Sun  (Nigeria)
  • Adam Roberts       The Wonga Coup (Equatorial Guinea )
  • Ama Ata Aidoo       Changes (Ghana)
  • Christiane AKOUA EKUE le Crime de la rue des notables   (Togo)