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April 8, 1999

I woke up this morning with a nice comfortable roof over my head. I drifted in and out of conciousness for a few hours, listening to scattered reports from the Balkans. Clouds moved in fast on the city of Portland, lubricating the accustomed streets with periodic showers. I was going, to wait for the showers to pass, but I here they never really do here in the northwest, one passes while another moves to take its place. So it goes.

Later that morning I slipped into my raingear and headed out into the day. I had an appointment to speak with a global studies class at Roosevelt H.S. 15 miles across town. I north along the Willamette river, thick heavy clouds looming ahead. Soon it began to hail softly, small pellets of ice, pinging of my helmet and shoulders. Then the hail picked up stinging like stones thrown from high above. I pulled under a tree as the hail stung and whited out the block. Imagine a hailstorm in April!? What are the mountains going to be like I thought?

I arrived at Roosevelt just in time to change and find Ms. Humble and her class. I was nervous, this would be my first High School visit, a bit more serious and harder to entertain than 4th and 5th graders! The bell rang, the kids sat in there chairs trying to figure out just what they were in store for. I began with the classic question, "how many of you have heard of the Peace Corps?" I was startled to see only three hands go up out of 25 or so students one of which was the teaching aid! It was hard to imagine after going through 3 years in the Peace Corps that everybody in America had not at least heard of this special program. I was lucky to have had an former Peace Corps Volunteer from the Phillipenes as a Biology teacher in High School. I was more than happy to inform the class about Peace Corps, its heavenly father J.F.K. and its three founding goals.1. To facilitate the Transfer of skills and appropriate technology.

2. To promote a better understanding of Americans on the peoples of other cultures.

3. To promote a better understanding of cultures different from our own on the part of Americans.

I made sure to mention that we were all taking part in the third goal, right there in Portland OR.

I also talked about Ghana and its history in the development of present day West Africa. Ghana is quite a special country. It was a central area in the slave trade of the 16th and 17th centuries. Recently, in a U.S. Ghana press conference held in D.C., J.J. Rawlings, president of the republic of Ghana offered dual citizenship to any African Americans that could trace there roots back to Ghana.

Ghana was also the first country to gain independance in sub-saharran Africa. Thier leadership gave rise to one of the most powerful chain reactions to spread over the continent, the transition to post colonial rule.

I explained what it was like for a typical student in northern Ghana on a day to day basis. I think many of the students realized the opportunity they had as Americans, surrounded by adequate educational resources, dedicated and commited teachers like Ms. Humble and a standard of living which fostered learning.

I got some interesting and thoughtful questions about greetings and the social systems that dominate life in the village. Questions about the treatment of elders and about the different types of foods that sustained me. I even got a request to post my recipe for Ghana groundnut stew so here it is:

ingredients:

5 large potatoes

1 large onion

3-4 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 tbl fresh ginger (minced)

1 4 ounce can of tomatoe paste

1 1/2 cups of smooth natural peanut butter

greens of your choice for color (broccoli or green beans)

salt and hot red pepper to your liking

Boil the peeled, cubed potatoes along with the ginger,garlic and onions in a large pot filled halfway with water. Boil until the potatoes are soft and mushy (30 min)

Mash the potatoes in the water/soup base until there are only little chunks left

Add tomatoe paste, peanut butter and greens. Stir until peanut butter is completely disolved. Then heat on low for another 15-20 min or until you can see the oil from the peanut butter seperate on top

The longer it cooks the better it tastes

Serves 4 hungry bikers!

Tomorrow I leave for Walla Walla WA, where the next classroom visit and web site update will be. Until then...