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Liberian Ministry of Education and Genius in Kakata

July 14, 2021
AUTHOR: COLIN TAUFER

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Today’s goals were simple. First, visit with the Liberian Minister of Education and develop a partnership agreement and second, deliver a Genius workshop in the up-country city of Kakata.

As readers of this blog know, last Tuesday we delivered a workshop to members of the Liberian Ministry of Education. The minister who helped make that happen was Marwolo Bongolee, the Deputy Minister for Student Services, who was part of Tim and Jay’s human rights program as a ninth-grader some sixteen years ago.

This morning we drove to the education building (above) and were escorted to Marwolo’s office. There we waited until we were directed to a large meeting room. Here we waited and took photos.

Team selfie…

Genius characteristic #4 “KNOWLEDGE. Geniuses continually accumulate information. Never go to sleep at night without having learned at least one new thing that day. Read. And question people who know.” Even in the Liberian Ministry of Education.

Soon we were joined not by the Minister, but the Assistant Minister for Teacher Education who was there in the Minister’s absence. Tim led the way with a thorough summary of who we were, why we were there, and what we were looking for in a potential partnership. He did a masterful job of packing a lot into a short time.  

By the time our conversation was complete, an agreeable understanding was reached to be followed up by a letter of concept. The letter is being drafted as I type this. We will meet with the Minister of Education on Friday!

Upon leaving we took a photo with the team flanked by the two Assistant Ministers. 

It’s about a forty-mile drive from the education building to the city of Kakata. However, this route passes through the most congested part of Monrovia which is ironically called Red Light. It’s not a “red light district” in the commonly known sense. It’s just Red Light. To think of this district having a traffic light, or ANYTHING that controls traffic is absurd. 

It is a swarming mass of humanity converging into many acres of muddy, noisy, mostly roadless, tightly packed confusion. It took us 90 minutes to travel about 2 miles through this quagmire. Cars and people and trucks and taxis and children and peddlers and animals and buses and clothing and housewares and food all slide past one another, surging this way and that. People rubbed against the car as they passed. Everyone eyeball to eyeball.

Here is an aerial view of Red Light. However, this photo shows a somewhat clear arrangement of vehicles heading in a similar direction. Not so today. For some reason, (the rain? the mud? broken down cars?) disorder reigned on our journey through this.

Here is a shot I took from the car in the middle of this. Out of context, it’s a pretty uninspiring shot. What I tried to capture was this massive truck pressed right up against my window, just inches away. Had it lurched to the left in a muddy rut, it would’ve scratched into the side of our car.  

After Jay competently and courageously navigated us through the worst of the jam, we raced over wide-open rural roads. He made up a lot of lost time by passing every vehicle that dared to slow us down. Here you can see a rural, roadside gas station. If you look closely, you’ll see jars of gas on the shelves. For only $6.20 a gallon, you can get your gas here! Same rate as the city, by the way.

We arrived to the YMCA in Kakata a few minutes after 1:00 and jumped right into a presentation on Genius. As you’ll see, presenting here was very different than the hotel. Public speaking takes on a very different meaning when the room has no lights, no fans, no AC, no glass on the windows, and every car and motorcycle outside competes for the ears of everyone within 100 yards. That said, the presentation went well. 

Here Jay preaches USING Genius not just being a Genius.

Everyone ended up with their very own Genius booklet, poster, bookmarks, and stickers. Including Precious, who sang a beautiful prayer in song to open the event. 

And Emmanuel who followed me to the car and exchanged WhatsApp contact info with me.

The successes from this event will be delivered to us tomorrow. (We left as soon as we could so we would not spend another two hours in Red Light.)

~~~~~

One photo from yesterday’s shopping. If you’re interested in some Cheerios for $12.75, drop me a line.

 Author: Colin Taufer

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