Friday, 1 October 2010

Phillips Exeter Academy vs. ALA vs. Ukraine

I went to a rich New England prep school called Phillips Exeter Academy for four years. We had a nine-storey library, over 450 courses, and around 4000 polo shirts (at a conservative average of four per student). Preppy since 1781!

Contrastingly, ALA is very new, and has some catching up to do in the ostentation department. Its crest has yet to be printed onto a hardwood floor, a donor hasn’t been found for a piano, and none of the classes take place above ground level (although the entire campus is at an oxygen-deprived 2200 ft). Worst of all, it hasn’t been able to afford strings for its teabags or corners for its “quad”, which is circular. One day, we hope that the funding will come through to make it a true quadrangle, with right angles and everything.

On the other hand, ALA crushes Exeter at diversity. Although all of its students are African, (with three glaring exceptions), very few of them are even vaguely local. Each student is very different from the next one, and all of us speak at least two or three languages fluently. And there isn’t much overlap; at ALA, every one is a minority. Phillips Exeter Academy, eat your heart out.

Switching topics, I learned today that in July 2009, only 4% of Ukrainians approved of their country’s leadership. Predictably, it was the lowest recorded rating in any nation, ever. That having been said, most of Ukraine’s main contenders for civilian dissatisfaction, such as Cambodia under Pol Pot, England during the 2010 World Cup and France on Bastille Day, did not waste their time holding polls.

I love ALA, but there have been two moments when my contentment definitely dipped below 4%:

First, Louis Pasteur went to a lot of effort to develop pasteurization in the early 1860’s, and ALA is ignoring all of his sterling work. Yesterday, I was just about to tuck into an almost perfect snack of milk and donuts when I was unpleasantly surprised. It’s only happened once, but donuts and sour milk do not complement well. And once again, Gaciru was told that in Africa people just deal with inadequate beverages. She was not amused.

Second, the school’s internet frequently redirects me from Facebook to the Cambridge International Examinations homepage. I would rather be Rick Rolled (sorry if you don’t get the reference) than look at site reminding me that the A-levels are approaching. In fact, as a matter of principle, I would rather be swarmed by rabid bats and then beaten with a broomstick than lose any more of my internet privileges.

Finally, I owe an apology to Senegal, who do have cinemas, despite what I said. Malick informed me that they have “thrrrrrrrrree!!” Roll the ‘r for authenticity. If you ask me, they do have an over-simplified calendar system though. I was helping Linda with her CV yesterday, and this is the conversation we had (click on the picture to enlarge):

1 comment:

  1. your daily life is so funny, i wish mine was as exciting! yesterday, i walked for an hour and a half to a meeting, and when i got there, someone asked me, 'y didn't u take the bus?' i felt super smart...