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Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 23, 2011 Rock the Vote

Today is a “holiday” because there is a referendum vote. The ballot will feature four issues:

1. The option to change the maximum age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 75

2. The option to change the minimum time for someone to live in Liberia before he/she can run for president from 10 years to 5 years

3. The option to change the presidential elections from October to November

4. The option to change the voting process to reflect the majority (right now the government spends lots of money hosting run-off elections even when someone has already emerged with the majority of the votes)

Even though school starts in two days, the majority of the staff is not here. For some, I think it’s one of those excuses not to come to work. For others, who take their voting privileges seriously, it’s a civic duty to travel to the polls.

James, who has been at school even on Saturdays and Sundays, is not here. When his daughter was sick with malaria, he still came in to work and brought her too because there was no one at home to care for her. He drives two hours to work and two hours back home. I’m assuming he’s voting and not just taking a free day. I admire James’ work ethic.

My assistant, Theresa, spent the whole day working with me and helping the first grade teacher, who’s just now able to get into her classroom to work. Theresa has opened up to me and told me how the previous teacher treated her. The woman referred to her as “thing” instead of calling her by name! I can’t imagine that level of disrespect being tolerated in a school. Theresa has 25 years of teaching experience. She’s taught her own kindergarten classes and has her teaching degree. The only reason she does not head a classroom here is that AISM requires its teachers to have a valid US teaching license. Theresa has told me that she’d like to open her own small school, but that it’s very difficult for Liberians to get business loans.

Tonight, I baked some sweet potatoes. They’re not at all like the yams at home. First, they are white inside like a regular potato. Second, though they are sweet, they are not as moist inside.

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