Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks in Nigeria

AUN gave a Thanksgiving meal Thursday at the cafeteria freely to all staff, students, and faculty. The line was tremendous. I've never seen so many people in the cafeteria at one time. It was so packed, the fellow who runs the place was trying to help people find open chairs. The special meal is seen on the right: BBQ turkey (your choice, chicken or turkey) with turkeys specially flown in, rice pilaf or spicy rice pilaf, and the usual assortment of miscellaneous sauteed veggies. Oh yes, and the Coke so cold there were ice chips in it - a pretty good trick around here. I worked Thanksgiving, getting home around 7:30pm - a bit earlier than usual because a neighbor gave me a ride.

Fri and Sat, I spent some time preparing a pumpkin pie using pumpkin I imported from the States during my trip there in October. I also cooked a chicken. Joy prepared some garlic mashed potatoes and deviled eggs. Then the Austins brought over some cookies for Joy's birthday and we had ourselves a family Thanksgiving celebration.
No pie pans, no crusts,
no evaporated milk, no whipped cream
We improvise

I am occasionally amazed at my students' papers. I have never heard any group of people defaming their own country with the vehemence I have encountered here. More than a third of my papers are about how terrible it is here. I've started correcting some of them, showing them real data of how Nigeria is getting better, that real progress is being made, and that some of their stories about why things aren't what they should be simply don't hold up to careful thought and scrutiny. I hadn't planned on coming here to defend Nigeria, but I didn't plan on becoming a defender of Utah in Ithaca either. If people don't believe good things are even possible, what hope is there except to get a degree and get out of town? They need hope, something to be proud of, and a sense of gratitude. The more I study, the more I actually think this place gets far worse press than it deserves.

Joy started off our giving thanks by saying how happy she was to all be together in Nigeria.

We are thankful to be able to talk to family on the internet.

We are thankful that I got a job this year, and that the working until midnight every night will abate in two weeks. I am thankful to have found people I care about, who I genuinely want to succeed - not only in class, but for the rest of their lives; not only financially, but as happy, well-rounded people.

We are thankful for another LDS family in Yola. We were prepared to be alone. Joy was reading in the new Relief Society manual about having the Church everywhere, no matter where you go, and thought again how thankful she was that the Austins make that a little more true for us here.

We are thankful that AUN is attentive in trying to fill our needs. I noted that even if my wildest optimism, I had never imagined we would have our stuff back by now. Among that stuff is the VeggieTales we watched tonight, reminding us that happiness does not come from stuff (Madame Blueberry)

I was thankful that even though the crust burned and I had to make a few substitutions, the pie tasted "just right."

We are thankful Princess loves to smile at her daddy and ride on my shoulders.

Prince is thankful for Mommy. Twice. He is also thankful for numbers and finds it impossible to pick a favorite. "He was thankful for you first," Joy adds.

We are thankful for improvised and new baby carriers. Princess is hitting a growth spurt and is getting to be just a bit too much for Mommy to carry.

I was thankful for cheese, which we had not expected to find much out here. Joy was thankful that Nigerian potatoes taste so good. "I am thankful for garlic and I miss sour cream."