GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

L-SWE SUCCESS 2016: Stories from the Field

As our first week draws to a close, we are busy writing up the exciting things we did to share with all of you. In the meantime until we get that done, we wanted to share a few other blog posts.

We started a secondary blog to capture a few of the fine details of the L-SWE SUCCESS camp. Here are our first two posts:

We hope you enjoy them and will update more soon.

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GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

L-SWE SUCCESS 2016: Early Team Report

Greetings from Liberia!

The U-M early team arrived in Liberia late on Wednesday, 10 August 2016. GarnersvilleWe are staying near Barnersville junction with one of the L-SWE students. Her family has been super nice these past few days.

Our first full day in Liberia was spent signing people up for the 2016 L-SWE SUCCESS camp. We visited the University of Liberia – Fendall Campus and watched the Engineering Concept Design Competition organized by GEMCESA (Geology, Electrical, Mining, and Civil Engineering Student Association at the University of Liberia) and sponsored by ExxonMobil and E-HELD (Excellence through Higher Education for Liberian Development). It was quite interesting to see the innovative ideas that the four Liberian project teams imagined. Everything from a car made entirely of Liberian-sourced parts to a set of waterways to improve transit to the Liberian interior.

We also visited the site of the 2016 camp, Rick’s Institute. It is a nice facility and we will share more photos during the camp.

The second day in Liberia was a purchasing day. We bought all sorts of supplies for camp. We spent American and Liberian money. Liberian dollars are called Liberty. One USD is anywhere from 80 to 100 LD depending on the exchange rate.

You can buy lots of things in Liberia in the capital that you would find in the States. They have everything from small roadside markets to bigger indoor grocery stores. We even visited a small store that was like a Liberian Costco – they only sold things by the case/carton/box.

On the third day (Saturday, 13 August 2016), hosted a pre-departure meeting at the E-HELD office on Old Road across from the Nigerian Embassy. We discussed expectations for the camp and answered questions.

Today (Sunday, 14 August 2016), the rest of the U-M team arrives. You will hear from them during the next two weeks. We cannot wait to share all of the great things that will be happening at the camp. The women engineers in Liberia are truly incredible. I, for one, cannot wait to meet more of them!

GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

LSWE SUCCESS – Day 3: Working Together

TGIF!!

Day 3: Communication and Culture

Today, we had engaging activities and discussions focusing on strategies and challenges of collaboration, focusing on working together as individuals and in teams.

L-Swe students standing in a circle forname game

First, we re-introduced ourselves by playing another name game. So many new students had arrived in the past 2 days, so we played a game where everyone had to say the name of everyone else in the circle, along with a little dance. In addition to the new students, we had two Peace Corps volunteers, Kris and Brian, who joined us for a few days of professional development. Both of them studied engineering in college in the U.S. and were now serving as math teachers in rural schools in Liberia. 

BARNGA

To start off the workshops, Sahithya led us off with an engaging game of “Barnga.” Barnga is a way to teach about cultural differences and to facilitate discussion about working with people from different cultures. All the students sat in different groups to play a card game. They could not talk, they could only play the game. Every five minutes, the winners of each group would get up and go to a different table. But unbeknownst to the players, the rules of the game were different at every table. Let the confusion begin!


In our debrief, we talked about culture as being a set of rules that most people who are part of that culture know. We came up with 5 tips for cross-cultural communication and cross-cultural relationships based on everyone’s experience in the Bangra game:

1. Be tolerant
2. Concentrate on the end results
3. Be aware of different mindsets
4. Do what you can to learn the “rules” of each culture. Ask and try to understand why those rules are important to the culture.
5. Have a common goal

How can we accept people of a different background into our culture?
1. Make the person feel comfortable
2. Make them feel “not wrong”
3. Communicate your own culture and clarify any “rules”
4. Know why they are there
5. Talk to them and get to know them as an individual
6. Don’t pass judgement quickly

Cultural Differences

After the game, Sara led off an interactive workshop on cultural differences. All the students got into small groups to put on skits based on scenarios of everyday life, work and skill. In each scenario, a group had to portray the situation as it might happen in a different culture. For instance, students acted out how people in a masculine culture might interview a prospective applicant for a job, while another group modeled how a feminine culture might conduct an interview for the same job.

Campers act out scenarios
Students act out “high power distance” classroom situation

After each scenario, the group discussed how the scenario might play out in Liberian and American cultures. It was quite interesting to learn about all the different cultural differences, and also to see the similarities. It was important also to see how these cultural difference might influence how camp participants interacted. For instance, although the UM grad students are “in charge,” because American university culture is “low-power distance” we don’t adopt the same authoritative attitude that the students are used to with a professor or teacher in Liberia, which is a “high-power distance” culture.

 

Identity and Privilege

Following the scenarios, we dropped down from the group level discussions about culture to talking about individual identity. We started off by having students describe themselves in 5 words. Everyone put their words on a post-it note, pasted it on a wall, and then as a group we created categories that describe what the students thought defined them as a person.

students sorting post-it notes on a wall

We talked about these categories – appearance, relationships, career– along with standard internationally recognized identity categories, like gender, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. In addition to learning more about each other, it was also an opportunity to talk about the concept of privilege. Privilege, in short, is an advantage that an individual has as a result of being a member of a particular group. It is not earned, and usually it is taken for granted.  In our discussion, students identified categories in which they were all the same, but also that they did not think about much. These were ability status and sexual orientation. In Liberia, sexual orientation is a contentious issue, especially given the Christian and Muslim majority, but all the students voiced similar thoughts and opinions. The students also pointed out that although many of them knew a person, sometimes close friends and family, that had a disability, none of them had any physical challenges that made it difficult to participate in everyday activities. The Peace Corps volunteers also pointed out that our students seemed to be much more economically stable and highly education than young people in the communities that they were teaching in, which pointed to different class statuses. To conclude, we thought about how each of our identities enabled us to be successful female engineers, and if there might still be people who are excluded from the opportunities these women had.

picture of bottle

To wrap up the day, Sahithya introduced our first engineering competition! On Day 3, which was a Saturday the students would work in teams to build and test bottle rockets! The students found out their team members, and were instructed to come back to the classroom at 9am the next morning to get their materials and start working.

 

 

This was a full day and at the end, we were all absolutely exhausted. BUT, it wasn’t over! In the evening, we celebrated two of the girl’s birthdays. Both were turning 21, and although Liberians usually don’t do much for their birthdays, we threw a big party. Our amazing catering staff (led by Yamah of Monrovia’s Yamah’s Kitchen) made two big cakes, one chocolate and one pineapple upside down cake, and then we danced danced danced all night long to the everyone favorite African jams! Somehow, Gangnam Style ended up in there, and there was a a congo line, and also a runway-style dance-off. Cultural exchange indeed! Check out our Instagram for photos!

 

 

women holding index cards
GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

LSWE SUCCESS – Day 2: Your Story

After meeting all of the students on Wednesday, we started off the camp workshops on Thursday. The format for each day is to have a morning session from 9 AM to 1 PM and an afternoon session from 2 PM to 5:30 PM. Don’t worry, we make sure to take plenty of breaks.

Know Yourself
The first few days of the camp is broadly classified under the theme “Know Yourself.” The idea is that it is hard to be an effective leader when you do not know your own potential. Each and every person has a distinct personality and leadership style. We explored the idea of preferences using three tools – Myers-Briggs Type Index, True Colors, and an adapted version of the Competing Values Framework.

women holding index cards
L-SWE students exchange cards describing their working styles

MBTI
We played a game to understand our preferences for the four MBTI categories. For each category we read the description of each type and had the students move into groups that were of the type. Then, each group was asked a question. Since similar thoughts reinforce each other it made it easy to tell where one generally belonged. We asked these questions:
1. You just won a cash prize from school of a sizable amount. How do you celebrate?
– Extraversion Goup: They wanted to spend the money on their community, save it or establish scholarships for other students.
– Intraversion Group: They wanted to help their families, church, or charity.
2. We have this strange yellow object. What is it? What do you do with it?
– Sensing Group: “It’s yellow silly putty.”
– Intuition Group: “Is it modeling clay? Can we make something with it?”
3. You are coaching a kickball team and they just made it into the Liberian championship. But, you can only take 11 of your 15 players to compete. Who gets to go?
– Feeling Group: “Let’s take the best players. The ones who are the most dedicated to the team! We can raise money for the others to come spectate.”
– Thinking Group: “Let’s take the best players. The ones who are thr most skilled and will ensure our victory.”
4. Plan a trip to Robertsport (a popular vacation area). What do you do?
– Judging Group: “Let’s organize a committee and divide up tasks.”
– Perceiving Group: “We’ll figure it out when we get there.”

The group had a great discussion about the different preferences. We explored how your preferences change over time and by which situation you are in.

We followed up with True Colors and CVF and showed how the three models relate. CVF looked into how organizations can have personalities/preferences too.

two women look at cards
Allisandra and Urelyn compare and exchange Working Styles cards to create their complete deck

Personal Statements
We followed up with an afternoon session about personal stories of leadership and engineering. Using the generative interview technique, students told stories about times they had success on an engineering team or other group project. Their partner took notes on the discussion and remarked on what stood out to them. The advantage of generative interviewing is that you can work through a story easily with lots of detail.

The stories in the generative interviews form the basis for writing personal statements. These statements will be used to apply for grad school, scholarships, or jobs.

The Future of Liberia
The last activity of the day was a TED talk from Leymah Gbowee about how to “unlock the intelligence, passion, greatness of girls“. In her TED talk video she explains her experience trying to help young girls succeed. She challenges her audience to think about the potential available in girls around the world just waiting to be unlocked.

“Will you journey with me to help that girl, be it an African girl or an American girl or a Japanese girl, fulfill her wish, fulfill her dream, achieve that dream? All they’re asking us to do is create that space to unlock the intelligence, unlock the passion, unlock all of the great things that they hold within themselves. Let’s journey together.”

This camp is part of that journey to create space where women can succeed. These women are the future of Liberia.

GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

Do NOT fly into Detroit from Liberia

“Each day, about 125 air travelers who have been to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone arrive in the United States. These travelers should enter the United States through one of five airports and go through a process called entry screening. The five U.S. airports are

  • New York JFK international Airport (JFK)
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Chicago-O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)

When arriving travelers who have been to these West African countries enter the United States, they are escorted to a special screening area. Because the outbreak of Ebola in Liberia is over, screening is different for travelers arriving from Liberia than screening for travelers arriving from Guinea or Sierra Leone.” SOURCE

Did you know that there are only 5 airports where travelers from West Africa should enter into the United States? And that Detroit Metro Airport is not one of them? We did not. Oops! Here is our story on traveling from Liberia to the US and getting screened for Ebola.

Ebola screening in West Africa: Liberia & Ghana

There is no Ebola in Liberia. I repeat, Liberia has been declared free of the Ebola virus. It has been over 80 days (almost 4 incubation cycles) since the last confirmed case. Life in Liberia has returned to normal for the most part, but people are still being vigilant.

Entering into Liberia – When you land at at the Robertsfield International Airport (ROB) in Monrovia, Liberia you immediately notice large hand washing stations on either side of the entrance to immigration. Everyone lines up and rinses their hands and forearms in chlorinated water. Then, a women wielding two no-touch thermometers stands guard at the door and takes everyone’s temperature one by one. She takes the temperature of one person and lets anyone with a normal temperature pass. As the one thermometer cools, she immediately takes another temperature with the other. They read the temperature at your temples and ask you to remove your glasses if you ware wearing any.

Life in Liberia – In Liberia, everyone is still washing their hands in chlorinated water. Almost every business has a bucket with a spigot filled with chlorinated water. If the business has a security guard, they will not let you enter until they visibly see you wash your hands. We encountered this at the apartment complex, the grocery store, the University of Liberia, and even the place where we bought phone credit. They are everywhere and people are happy to comply. At the apartment where we stayed, we had giant bottles of hand sanitizer that we used regularly and had our visitors use. We also brought no-touch thermometers but never needed to use them.

Leaving Liberia – Personnel at the airport perform exit screenings of every single person trying to leave the country. When you arrive at the airport, they have you wash your hands in chlorinated water and fill out a health survey. It asks for your personal information, how you are feeling, and if you have been in contact with any sick people. After you complete the form, a nurse who wears gloves looks over your forms, confirms your identity with your passport, and takes your temperature using a no-touch thermometer. She writes your temperature in Celsius on a sticker and places it on your passport. You are required to wash your hands again and can then finally enter into the airport.

Entry into and Departure from Ghana – Entry and Departure from Ghana followed the same simple procedure. Upon arrival, everyone has to pass through an infrared temperature screening station. There is a person sitting at a computer in the middle of the hallway with two processing lanes – one on either side. Each lane has a computer monitor with an infrared camera image. You stop at a line on the floor and look at the camera. If you are wearing glasses, you must take them off. The infrared camera looks at your heat signature and a button on the screen turns green when it decides that you are normal. The person waives you along and then examines the next person. The procedure is the same for trying to leave the country but the station is located after the check-in counters and before immigration and security.

Entry into the United States

Entry into the United States is much more complicated than leaving Liberia and Ghana. We flew on Kenya Airways from Liberia to Ghana and then on KLM/Delta from Ghana to Amsterdam to Detroit. According to the Customs agents at DTW, KLM should never have allowed us on the flight in Ghana since our final destination was Detroit.

We landed in Detroit around 3 PM on Friday, 26 June. We departed the plane with our things and went to the area where they have the customs / immigration agents and kiosks. American citizens can fill out information on the Kiosks and foreign visitors must do everything in person. Since Liz had declared cheese from Amsterdam, all three of us were in different immigration lines. Sahithya was the person to reach the customs agent. There were video screens posted around that asked for travelers who had been to Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone to tell the agent. Sahithya had not noticed these signs and the customs agent never asked. She was approved for entry and headed to baggage claim.

The next person was Sara. She had seen the signs and immediately told the customs agent that she had been in Liberia two days ago. The customs agent freaked out and immediately put on gloves and a mask. She went and told another agent who commented: “Well, my day has gotten significantly worse.” The customs agents then pulled Liz out of line and sent someone to find Sahithya. They gave us masks to wear and herded us to a back room where the worker from the Department of Public Health sits. Everyone working with us put on gloves and masks. We filled out forms about our travel and waited while someone called EMS to come and take our temperatures. The masks made it hot like in the winter when you have a scarf wrapped around your face. EMS arrived and took our temperatures with a TOUCH thermometer. He put it on one of our temples and dragged it across the forehead. We were all normal and even below temperature. The EMS worker was skeptical about the thermometer reading and repeated all of our temperatures, again using the TOUCH thermometer. We were then cleared to take off the masks, given Check and Report Ebola (CARE) kits, and continued into the United States.

We were surprised at how people in the US reacted to Ebola. While we were in Liberia, we learned that face masks don’t have an effect on containing Ebola. The disease is spread by direct contact of bodily fluids (such as sweat, vomit, or blood) of a visibly ill person. We heard about examples of this when we talked to one person in Liberia, who said, “Every single person I know who had Ebola knows exactly how they got it. I know of no cases of anyone who got it by riding in a taxi or using public facilities. It was by direct contact with a visibly ill person.” For this same reason, touch thermometers should be avoided when checking for Ebola. Fortunately, Ebola is cleared in Liberia, and we are all healthy and safe in the United States.

Final Thoughts

Ebola is a real and a serious disease. It has ravaged Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Thousands of people have died and those three countries will never forget this crisis. Just like the US remembers the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918, it is forever in their history. We hope that the rest of the world does not forget this crisis either and spends more time researching vaccines for diseases that are not “profitable” and affect the disadvantaged. Diseases like Ebola need to be better understood and health systems in the poorer areas of the world need to be significantly expanded.

GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

Profesional Interactive Dinner: Networking for Students and Professionals

One of the main purposes of our trip to Liberia was to encourage the Liberian female engineering students and help connect them (and ourselves) to local engineering professionals and instructors. We thought the best way to do this was to host a “Professional Interactive Dinner” and invite as many female engineering students and professionals as we could. When we landed in Monrovia on Wednesday, 17 June, we had no venue, about 15 students, and less than 5 professional guests lined up. With the great help of our Liberian collaborators, we were able to get all the preparations done for the dinner in less than 5 days.

On Wednesday, we and L-SWE started inviting Liberian students to both a networking workshop on Sunday, 21 June and the dinner on Monday, 22 June. On Thursday we met with E-HELD and invited their team. We also had a short list of professional engineers and other supportive professionals and began to call them. On Friday, we visted University of Liberia and invited Dean Ophelia Weeks from UL and numerous faculty. On Saturday, we met the Society of Women Engineers of Liberia (SWEL) women and invited them and the Engineering Society of Liberia. We even invited people from iLab Liberia on Monday morning. All of our meetings went better than expected. Liberia is a truly marvelous place with genuine and warm people. Even on such short notice, we were able to meet with every person we wanted to and each one promised to try and attend. This would not have been possible in the States where everyone keeps such a strict schedule.

Networking Workshop

On Sunday, 21 June, we hosted a workshop for the female Liberian students who were planning on attending the dinner. E-HELD graciously let us use their conference room, printers, and WiFi. The workshop covered two major parts:
1. What is Networking, why it matters, and how to do it
2. Society of Women Engineers and “Friends of SWE”

Networking
According the the Oxford Dictionary, Networking is “Interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career”. In Liberia, one student described it as being like your body where each part is one piece of a greater whole and is connected through the internal systems. And in order for your body to function, you must have good connections to each piece which serves a different function. Just as your body has a network of nerves and a different network of blood vessels, you must have personal and professional networks. The Liberian students know personal networks very well since Liberia is such a socially connected country. For professional networks, we brainstormed as a group what each engineering students needed as part of their network:

  • Someone who can provide career guidance or job shadowing
  • Someone who can provide internships or practical experience
  • Someone who can provide social and academic support in school
  • Someone who can be a role model.

After a good discussion on the value of networks, we passed out the list of professional attendees and discussed how to network. In small groups, we thought up questions to ask the professionals in order to learn about their careers and journeys. We also talked about how although networking can be hard and socially straining, with lots of practice it is extremely helpful in your career and life. When networking, focus jot on the immediate return but on building a long-term relationship.

All in all, the students left with much more confidence on how to network with both professionals and students. We had 25 students from University of Liberia and 10 from Stella Maris Polytechnic attend our workshop. By discipline, there were 8 Electrical Engineers, 9 Civil Engineers, 4 Mining Engineers, 12 Geologists, and 3 Architecture / Construction students.

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Society of Women Engineers
Our second component was to introduce the students to the larger Society of Women Engineers (SWE) organization. The students were amazed to learn that SWE has over 30,000 members who are mainly women engineers. SWE is now going international with the creation of two new structures: SWE Affiliates and “Friends of SWE“.

SWE Affiliates are groups of international dues-paying SWE members. It only takes 4 SWE members to start an affiliate! These affiliates have similar structure to professional and collegiate sections in the States. Individual members are eligible for SWE awards but affiliates are not eligible for section awards. Students and professionals can join affiliates.

“Friends of SWE” is a new FREE program for university students studying all disciplines of engineering and technology outside the United States. As a “friend” of SWE, students get access to member pricing, SWE publications, outreach materials, and carer center. We signed up 8 new “friends” of SWE.

Lastly, SWE has created a new international online community located at international.swe.org. It contains places for forums, questions & answers, blog posts, and other good international resources.

Overall, many seemed excited about connecting with the international community.

Professional Interactive Dinner

The highlight of the entire trip was the Professional Interactive Dinner on Monday, 22 June. We hosted it at the restaurant FuZion D’Afrique, which is an African fusion restaurant located at 14th street and Tubman avenue across from the Lutheran church in Sinkor, Monrovia. The owners were extremely helpful and were able to accommodate our group of 65 with a buffet and specially arranged tables. Coincidentally, the owner’s wife grew up in Dearborn, MI and attended University of Michigan and Wayne State University. Small world!

The dinner was arranged to have the students arrive at 5 pm and the professionals at 6 pm and conclude by 8 pm. But, this is Liberia where meeting times are a suggestion and traffic is a mess. Most students showed up about 6 pm and most professionals arrived by 6:30 pm. We were on Liberian time for sure.

The women who attended the dinner were remarkable. The students were actively engaging the professionals and asking for advice. Students from different universities were getting to know one another. The male professionals were kind and supportive. Everyone was genuinely thankful and happy to be there. There was not a disinterested person in the place. We had a fantastic turn-out. Every single student who signed in at the networking workshop attended the dinner for a total of 45 students! Our 20 professional guests included representatives from E-HELD/RTI, faculty from University of Liberia, members of the Society of Women Engineers of Liberia and the Engineering Society of Liberia, professional engineers, a high school educator, and other organizations such as iLab Liberia, Liberians Encouraging Students in Science and Technology (LESSAT) and the Ministry of Education.

It was overwhelming for us to watch the students be full of such joy and confidence. To see 50+ women engineers in one place in Liberia is a very special thing. The best comment of the night was from one student who said that she “had never been in an environment like this before” and that this was the happiest she had been in a very long time. It reminds me of how I feel every time I attend a SWE conference and am surrounded by hundreds or thousands of women engineers. The positive energy is overwhelming and creates a lasting joy.

The dinner was a smashing success. It was so remarkable to see these young women network with professionals and see the professionals provide such good conversation and advice. We hope that this event was a catalyst for these students and we cannot wait to see where this positive energy will carry them.

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GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

The Society of Women Engineers of Liberia

One of biggest revelations this week was that there exists a Society of Women Engineers of Liberia (SWEL). They are a registered Liberian non-profit organization and operate as a subset of the Engineering Society of Liberia. Established in 2013, they are dedicated to supporting women in engineering in Liberia and have collegiate members from vocational schools and universities, and professionals.

We learned about their organization from both a Stella Maris Polytechnic student and a University of Liberia faculty member. To our suprise and excitement, they arranged a cook-out for us and the L-SWE women to meet them on Satuday. This was their first major event since the Ebola Crisis. We were thrilled to meet them. It turns out that although SWEL and L-SWE both started in 2013, neither knew about the existence of the other.

So, on Saturday, we loaded up our van with us and 10 L-SWE women and drove to the cook-out. It was held at Tabitha’s Renaissance, Enginering & Design off of Roberts International Airport Highway. The SWEL women welcomed us with open arms. The food was great too. We had Liberian rice, pepper sauce, fried chicken, fried beef, grilled fish, fish sandwiches, and fried plantains. Super delicious! They even served South African cider, Savanna, and other beverages. Not knowing that there would be so much food, we brought juice and cookies to share.

The women of SWEL are incredible. They are passionate about helping Liberia move forward. Many of these women were from Liberia, left to pursue higher education abroad (China, Ghana, Australia, etc.), but came back to improve Liberia. They are superb role models for the women of L-SWE and Liberia.

The SWEL organization is growing and is looking to become a voice on the international stage. We look forward to helping them get connected with the larger Society of Women Engineers organization. We invited the women of SWEL to our networking dinner tonight and cannot wait to get know them more.

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GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

Reflections on my first overseas flight

By Liz Dreyer, EE PhD student

After 18+ hours of travel, we have finally made it to Ghana. Tomorrow we will depart for Liberia. Since this is my first trip overseas, I want to take a moment and reflect on it and give a quick update before we leave. The internet in our hotel is great right now.

Airplanes
This was my first time flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Although I slept most of the way, it was an awesome view. Early in the morning we caught the sun rising over the ocean. It was incredible! I also really enjoyed the in-plane food and beverage service. Did you know that you actually get complementary dinner and beer/wine when you travel overseas on Delta? Even in Economy! I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicous too. They even served complementary beverages like tea, wine, beer, coffee, and juice.

The next leg was from Amsterdam to Ghana. The Amsterdam airport was complicated but we made it to our gate with plenty of time. KLM provided excellent service and even better food than Delta. It was my first plan ride where English was not the default announcement language. It was third after Dutch and French. The views of the Sahara desert were awesome too. Also, did you know that Diet Coke is called Coke Light in Holland?

Ghana
After our long flight, we finally made it to Ghana. The Ghana airport is nice enough but customs took over 2 hours. It turns out that Ghanaian visas are a bit complicated. The hotel shuttle left without us because we took so long, but we just caught a taxi instead. We all feel bad about having the shuttle driver wait 2 hours for us and never seeing us. The hotel is clean and we get breakfast in the morning. We leave for Liberia at 12:30 pm on Wednesday. Hopefully the airport is easier this time through.

Overall, it has been a great day of firsts! First time flying over the ocean, first time in Europe, first time in Africa, first time hearing Dutch in person. I cannot wait to see what other firsts we encounter on this trip.

We will post about our activities in Liberia soon. Thanks for reading!

~ Liz