Week 4: Surf Competition

Week 4

We had quite the Ghana Group join us for our beach adventure to Kokrobite last weekend. The Ghana Guys, thanks to the invitation of our German friends from the Sleepy Hippo, headed down to Mr. Brights’ Surf Competition. However, we felt that we needed to share the love and extended the invitation to this exhibition of surfing prowess to our new Swedish friends and our old friend Nathan from Burro, who then invited two of the other interns. All told it was the two Ghana Guys, Ylva, Ema, Pia, Leah, Mira, Nathan, Ang, and Grace.


Tropical Chicken Pizza from “Pizza Hut”

Our journey began Friday on the way more crowded than last time 5 PM bus from Ashesi with Ema and Ylva. After a couple minute delay figuring out how to fit all of us in one bus, we took the bus to Accra Mall and we were able to get some pizza for the first time in Africa. It was this cool new African pizza joint called Pizza Hut, so we knew it was going to be pretty good. After some delicious pizza, we were able to get an Uber to our hostels in Kokrobite, after two hours of bumper to bumper traffic in Accra and a couple wrong turns we were at our hostels. From there we headed over to Big Milly’s Backyard which was the hostel/resort hosting the surf competition for the weekend. After meeting up with our friends we were fortunate enough to enjoy a nice show of people dancing, doing tricks with fire and juggling as well as get some dancing lessons surprisingly similar to the Cupid Shuffle.


Tom + coconut = ❤

Saturday morning we were able to go out on the beach to do some community service cleaning up a bit of the beach before the day of surfing. It felt good to get some work in before kicking back and enjoying the beach. The surfing competition for us involved: watching surfing, relaxing on the beach, swimming in the Atlantic for the first time since Daytona, and eating some coconuts and Indomie (which is similar to ramen noodles). All in all it was a very relaxing day of competition even though the surfing started about four hours late because of the weak waves and the typical relaxed Ghanaian schedule.


Ghana Guys dancing at Dizzy Lizzies

Running short on cash and no ATM in sight, we opted to get dinner at Big Milly’s where Nathan could use his credit card. After ordering, we decided joined a group gathering around a projector screen where we got to watch a surfing documentary made about Kokrobite. The movie turned out to be a bigger blessing than we thought since the food took a couple hours to bring out. But without much better to do besides socializing with our friends, in the end, it was worth the wait. After dinner at Big Milly’s, we went to a bar down the street called Dizzie Lizzie’s to appreciate some Reggae music and some fine Ghanaian beers such as Club and Guinness’s 60-year celebration of Ghanaian independence stout.



Relaxation Sunday

Sunday morning, after a full day of relaxing, we decided to double down and do some yoga that was being offered at the hostel. I don’t know what the requirements for hot yoga are, but I think an hour long in the Ghanaian sun definitely qualifies. After rehydrating, we went back to the beach for the finale of the surfing competition. The waves on Sunday were much better than Saturday and the surfing went to a new level. Satisfied with our surf, sun, and coconut for the weekend we took the three taxi, two tro-tro journey back to Ashesi to begin the real work on our project.

Thanks again for following the bloog, we are getting busier and busier so we appreciate you following along,

-Marky Mark



Week 4: First Day of School

Week 4

After our enjoyable summer vacation touring Ghana, we finally went back to school this week. While we’ve been working on projects at Ashesi since we arrived, this week was the start of Ashesi’s summer semester. Now, in addition to our project work, Mark and I would be teaching assistants for the 6-week Intro to Engineering course. The course is set up to give students an overview in the world of engineering, including topics such as ethics, applications, and different engineering disciplines. The course will also give students hands-on experience with an end of semester project, this year focused on solar powered irrigation systems.

Excited for our first day of school, Mark and I woke up bright and early and headed into the Engineering Office to meet up with Fred and figure out what we’d be doing for class. As we step into the office, I’m eager to fill up my newly acquired Ashesi mug with coffee and get ready for the day. Coffee in hand, Mark and I sit down with Fred and meet Bengt, the Solidworks guru from Sweden. The four of us, joined shortly by Kofi and Thomas, two other people helping teach the course, start talking over the syllabus and our roles for the summer term. As the meeting goes on, Kofi comments that it’s getting close to class time and we should probably head to the classroom soon. Baffled, Fred remarks that he thought class started tomorrow and grumbles, “Nothing good starts on a Monday.”


A “Mondays” Sized Coffee Mug

With only moments to prepare himself, Fred delivers a great intro to Intro to Engineering lecture. Throughout the lecture Fred made sure to convey the importance of each part of the syllabus, using stories from his time working in industry to bring the points home. The big take away from this lecture was Fred’s Four Tips. The first tip was that good grades, does not make one a good engineer. He said that while you still need good grades to pass classes and remain an engineering student, there is nothing that can substitute passion and work ethic for an engineer. Secondly, he noted the importance of “the other 8 hours”, the time when you are not in class or asleep. He said it is in this extra time that success is found or lost. Next, he employed the classic “look to your left, look to your right” bit. But instead of following it with the usual, “one of you won’t be here next year” that engineers can often hear, he followed it by saying, “These are the most important people in your career.” To Fred, networking is the way that real change can be made and that working together betters ourselves and the projects we work on. Lastly, continuing on the third point, he told us to help each other. Engineering isn’t about being the best but is about making a change in the world and to do that we need one another. All in all, it was a great lecture that talked about the important intangibles of engineering and it was all the more impressive given the little time Fred had to prepare. I am constantly impressed by Fred, his drive, and his wisdom.


Dr. Fred dropping wisdom

Always leaving us wanting more, Fred had to leave after Monday for Germany for some conference or another. So for the rest of the week, we were helping Bengt on the Intro to Solidworks part of the course. I say we, but Mark is the only one with Solidworks experience, so I’m serving sort of as a barometer for Bengt to know if he’s teaching it well enough for an electrical engineer to understand. Luckily, Bengt brought along two of his students, Ylva and Ema, so Mark isn’t the only helpful TA in the room. It has been fun this week showing Ylva and Ema around and realizing how big of a difference 3 weeks can make. The two of them would comment on this or that as we took them on a quick tour of campus and it was weird to see how used to everything Mark and I had become. It was also a joy to watch the two girls struggle to eat fufu with their hands after our own struggles with banku only a couple weeks earlier. The personal highlight of having the Swedes around this week was being able to play some ultimate frisbee on the court Wednesday night. Ylva and I lost, but it was still amazing to play again even if it means Mark will get gloating rights possibly forever.


Ghana Guys with some Ghana Gals

It was great to get a schedule for the rest of the summer and we also got more direction on our solar land-security project for the summer. We have a new groove to get into after this week, but we’re excited to be working with and meeting new students in the class and look forward to getting our project for the summer.

This weekend we’re heading to Kokrobite for a surf competition, as of now only as spectators, but stay tuned for our next weekend adventure blog post.

Peace and love,

The Ghana Guys