Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

mercredi, septembre 13, 2006

Le Bac (September 3, 2006)

Shrieks and howls abruptly drew my attention away from whether or not my laundry was dry. Coming around the corner was one of my host brothers supporting my host mom. She was bent over and crying. My eyes quickly scanned for blood or other signs of injury. Nothing. My brother sat her down on the patio and she was repeating his name over and over, mingled with Susu that I could not understand. What has happened? Finally he simply states, “The results are in and I passed the Bac.” A faint smile appears on his lips.
I beam, “Congratulations!”
The Guinean educational system has continued the French tradition of high stakes testing. Tests are taken at the end of 10th grade, 12th grade and Terminale (after 12th, but before university). If you don’t pass you are done though can try to take the test again the following year. It’s interesting to place the No Child Left Behind testing craze beside the system. It quickly becomes apparent that high stakes testing leaves kids behind. Lots of kids.
In Guinea, students are not given the same identity protection as in the States. Traditionally, the names of passing students throughout the country are read over the national radio. This started last night around 10:00 pm and lasted 3+ hours. If you missed your name, lists posted in regional areas provide the names of passing people. Cell phone technology is rapidly entering Guinea and results were also provided via text messages from the testing center. My brother entered his test number into a text message and within several messages received the reply that he had passed. Now, he has to wait for the announcement letting students know if they are accepted to university as there is an extremely limited amount of space.