Yes, yes, I finally made it to Ghana, but not without a little more drama. I’ll spare you those details, though, because friends have kept pointing out that I still haven’t said what the heck Devon and I are even doing in Ghana. Yeah, I do tend to drop the ball on that sort of thing. Sorry. But the Ghana thing is actually pretty simple: we’re visiting Ashesi University.
Ashesi is a brand-new tiny university, and still the only one in all of Africa providing a liberal arts curriculum. They’ve graduated just a dozen classes, and they’ve already changed the face of education on the entire continent. The president of Ghana spoke at their commencement this past year and he urged all the other universities in the country to follow the school’s example. And if you spend any time with Ashesi’s students, faculty or staff, you won’t waste a minute wondering why.
For a quick intro to the school’s philosophy, just watch the TED talk by Patrick Awuah, Ashesi’s founder. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading now, really, and watch the talk. Devon and I met Patrick Awuah a year or so after that talk, when Ashesi was still operating out of a rented house in the Accra suburbs. We kinda fell in love with him and his vision immediately: his students had astounding critical thinking skills and were deeply committed and well equipped to actually change the world.
Case in point: we met Kpetermeni Siakor when he was Ashesi’s first Liberian student. Two years later – still as an undergraduate – he devised and led the deployment of the cell phone-based data exchange system that helped bring his home country’s raging Ebola epidemic under control. Yeah, Ashesi students make things happen.
Pretty much since that first visit, we’ve been kind of fanatical about the school, making donations where and when we can, trying to introduce others to Patrick’s vision. I’ve given a couple of talks there and been asked incisive difficult questions that never came up anywhere else.
But it’s been a few years, and when the opportunity came to tag along on a trip of trustees and donors, Devon and I jumped at the chance. We’re spending a couple of days meeting with students, meeting with faculty, brainstorming and hearing about the next couple of stages in the strategic vision.
Feel free to ask me more when we get back. But be forewarned: I’ve already accidentally convinced two people to leave their Silicon Valley jobs, pull up stakes and move to Ghana to teach at Ashesi. Just sayin…