Is it wrong to have favorites?

Today, my favorite regular appointment brought a writing assignment, due next Friday, so we could outline it together.  The topic he is to write about?  The effects of globalization on Africa.  Oye, these professors and their broad topics slay me.  After talking for a couple of minutes he narrowed the topic down a bit to “The effects of globalization on West Africa”.  He was thinking about Nigeria and Ghana but mainly his home country of Nigeria.  The outline went as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Political Globalization

Positives
Negatives
The United Nations

  • Economic Globalization

Positives
Negatives
World Trade Organization

  • Cultural Globalization

Positives
Negatives
Languages

  • Technology

Positives
Negatives
He was going to think about a subtopic

  • Conclusion

Opinion-Is it more positive or negative?
Can it be changed?

All this in a 10 page paper!  That’s a lot to talk about but he felt good about his outline.  He said he was going to go home and continue mapping the subtopics for his paper.  This was the same student that at our first meeting he got excited about writing and left early (I love that!).  We briefly discussed BRICS and MINT countries, he was surprised that I knew about the Nigerian economy.  (Thank you BBC Radio Documentaries!) I also knew about Africa’s Richest Man, Aliko Dangote who is from Nigeria.  Honestly, I love the learning that takes place in and around the writing center culture.  I have been reading about Nigeria because of the students I work with and I think it pays off in dividends.

imageAs we talked about his paper and what he was interested in, he asked me my opinion about globalization and Africa.  Back at SCSU I would have totally shied away from giving my (always strong) opinion because I would not want to sway the student or I might have the feeling they were trying to get me to do some of the work on their paper for them.  However, in Mr. Samuel’s case I just felt like he was testing me a bit.  I think he wanted to see who he is working with.  Still, I was taken a back by him actually wanting my opinion and I double checked, “You want my thoughts on the effects globalization has had on the continent of Africa?” He replied that yes, he did.  I told him that it is difficult to measure the effects because globalization hit Africa 400-500 years ago.  How can we measure the impact that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade had on Africa?  We can see how normal projections of population growth has hit those countries especially hard but the people themselves being gone impacted the area.  What if Booker T. Washington’s genius was applied to problems in Africa instead of the United States?  What if Frederick Douglas’s brilliance was railing against colonial domination in Africa instead of abolishing slavery in the United States?  How might the continent have developed if the human capital had remained in place?  Then I mentioned the economic devastation that was Apartheid in South Africa.  How can people regain the economic power they once possessed before they were forcibly removed from their homes and businesses as they were relocated to townships?  All of these single events had devastating impacts on the whole continent.  Now, there are companies from the EU, America, and China who come into African countries offering short-term financial benefits, which may not be in the best long-term interests of the country but who can blame them.  They are still trying to modernize and reap some benefit for each of their countries.

When i finished, he had a big smile and he said that he agreed with me.  I felt like he trusted me more after this little exchange.

He went back to the concept of globalization’s effect on culture, this is the area he is most concerned about.  He talked about food, language, and clothes.  How those have all changed in Nigeria because of the European influence.  I mentioned that in the US accents are flattening out and everyone wants to sound like a news presenter.  Also, with the growth of chain grocery stores we are all getting the same food, which flattens out choice and regionalism.  He told me that here in Port Elizabeth he hardly ever eats out because he does not like the food here.  However, there is a Nigerian food market where he can get ingredients to make the types of dishes he likes.  I then introduced the concept of “comfort food”.  He’s never heard this term before and I explained that it is food that feeds your heart and soul.  Therefore, comfort food is different to each person because it depends on the foods you grew up with.

We are meeting next Wednesday to review his draft.  Hopefully by then he will have his other grade back.  I’m still on pins and needles waiting to see what grade he received.

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