Thursday, April 28, 2016

Today's Accomplishment

Today I found a journal to send a revised copy of the paper I gave in Jerusalem. I finally found one that did require extensive stylistic and reference revisions. So that was my big accomplishment for today. Every step closer I come to getting another publication is another tiny movement towards further promotion. I should probably be seeing about getting revised versions of all the rejected manuscripts I still have sitting around so I can move this process along a little faster.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Middle Day

I never get as much done as I hope to in any given day. But, I do make sure to do a little bit each day. Today, I got the process to get my rent subsidy underway. I also wrote another reference letter. Finally, I finished writing a draft of a proposal for an MA sandwich program and sent it to the person who will take over as HOD in August. So I got three things accomplished. I also got to the bank to get money which always seems to take forever. However, I failed to definitively find a journal for my last conference paper. All of them are going to require significant stylistic revisions particularly regarding the citations. I hate having to redo citations. Moving from footnotes to in text citation takes forever and I don't know why so very few journals use either footnotes or end notes anymore. We have to teach our students here that the international standard for historical writing is footnotes in Chicago Style. Yet, a huge number of journals in Russian and Soviet history require in text citations in Harvard Style. The only one that uses end notes instead of in text citations is The Russian Review. So I am probably going to have to go and redo the citations on the paper before submitting it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ruby Tuesday

Today the first productive thing I did was drop of laundry at the laundromat. Then I made it to the office to fill out more endless letters of recommendation. I still have students who graduated in 2011 and took the first class I ever taught here coming to ask for reference letters. It seems most of my former students want to become lawyers although given the complete lack of enforcement of law here I am not sure how that will work.

Most of the day I spent working on a book chapter on the Soviet mass campaigns of arrest and expulsion of ethnic Chinese from the Soviet Far East during 1936-1938. I didn't get lunch until after three in the afternoon as a result. I had a chicken shawarma. Like all other food here it was Africanized meaning made spicy.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Munchy Monday

Today I got up and had a hearty breakfast of three bananas, a bowl of ramen noodles flavored with ketchup, soy sauce, and hot sauce, and a couple slices of bread with ketchup washed down with tea. I then took the tro tro to Madina and transferred to one going to Legon. I walked the rest of the way from Bush Canteen to my office. Once at my office I had a number of students show asking for one of two things. Either they still hadn't gotten their mid-term exam back or in two cases they wanted me to write them letters of reference for a history department scholarship that is due next week. I got both of the letters done today, but one I didn't get printed off until late because by the time the former student got to my office it was lunch time.

At lunch I first attempted to go to the housing office in the hopes I could catch them before they went to lunch. This attempt failed. I arrived at an empty office. I then ate some jollof rice and sausage and called my wife before making a second attempt. This attempt was much more successful and I found out what I need to do at least as a first step to renew my housing subsidy for next academic year. Then I walked over to the All Needs Market and purchased some beverages and an ice cream. It is both good and bad that the campus is so huge. It is good in that all the walking got me off the high blood pressure medicine and is probably lowering my cholesterol. It is bad in that it takes an incredible amount of time. Some days I walk upward of five kilometers at work.

After arriving back at the office I wrote out by hand the final exam questions for my European History class. The exam will be on May 9th. Then I did the same for half of the questions for my Aspects of World History, 1945 to Present. That exam is May 18th. I may finish them tonight. But, I got interrupted by the food lady bringing ground nut soup, tilapia, and rice. In retrospect given the size of breakfast and the fact I had both a mid-afternoon and early evening meal it is probably good that I had to walk down to housing and back twice today. Otherwise I might start looking like a moving fufu.

Friday, April 22, 2016

End of Classes for the Semester

Today and yesterday I finished teaching my last classes of the semester. Today I had a class at city campus in Accra and yesterday I had a class at the main campus in Legon or as we call it "the village." So now there are a couple of weeks until my final exams. I have one on May 9th and one on May 18th.

Some Good News

Yesterday, I know I am again behind, I got some good news. I have only ever had one PhD student in any of my classes. An African-American woman took my graduate course on race and ethnicity before leaving UG due to a number of factors. She is extremely talented academically and an excellent writer. After leaving UG to return to the US she spent some time looking for a new PhD program. I wrote six recommendation letters for programs for her plus one for a scholarship. It turns out she got into her first choice school and got the scholarship which covers three years of tuition and living expenses. So even if nobody in the US ever takes me seriously as an academic I hold out the hope that some of my students will be accorded that respect.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Yesterday I couldn't post this because the power went out again. So I am posting it today. But, the events all refer to Wednesday. At 9:30 am I oversaw our last departmental seminar of the semester. We had a guest lecturer from Winneba talk about pedagogy today. This provoked a lively discussion among the National Service Personnel in the audience, most of whom had been students just a year ago. This was followed by another emergency meeting in which I got stuck being seminar coordinator for next year. In fact they named me seminar coordinator for life. But, I did get rid of my seat on academic board after two years finally.

I then finished up grading my mid-terms for European history, ate some waakye provided free by the head of department, and took a walk. After that I called my wife and spoke to my five year old daughter. Her Russian has gotten really good. It is her second language. Her first language is Kyrgyz which I don't speak very much of at all. She even threw in some English phrases for my benefit. She asked about her grandparents a lot.

The rest of the afternoon I spent doing minor tasks that took way too long. One was writing a reference letter for a former student applying for funding for graduate studies. The letter itself did not take long to write. However, getting the printer to work took a long time. I had to reinstall the HP printer program because I updated to Windows 10 a while ago.

The second task I still have not finished. I am searching for a suitable journal to send a revised version of the paper I presented in Jerusalem. I originally sent it to The Russian Review but they rejected it on the basis that they had just published an article by me on ethnic Germans in the USSR during World War II which is fair enough. So far I haven't decided on where to resend the manuscript. Any suggestions are greatly welcomed and should be included in the comments.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday again

Today I had my last 7:30 am class of the semester. It had three parts. In the first part I went over the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the second part I went over what would be covered on the final exam. Finally, in the third part we discussed what the students liked about the class and their suggestions for improving the class in the future. They evidently really liked hearing about the 20th century from a living fossil that grew up during the Cold War. Their suggestions included more visual aids and slower speaking due to my thick American accent. Overall the class went well this semester. African students seem a lot more capable of learning than American ones from everything I can see on the Internet.