Happy New Year!

The church was born a pioneer and – while it has come of age – so it even celebrates the New Year around a month before the rest of the world, at the First Sunday of Advent, today.

New year is a time for brave beginnings, fresh openings. It is a time to find doors and gates, seek for encounters between two spaces, places and realities, to open the door, leave what was behind, and get boldly in the novel and the unknown.

Today, in 1929, was a day of new opportunities also to my father who was then born; yes, almost a century ago. Getting out of the comfort of his mother’s womb, with his twin brother, marked the first day of his life in which he certainly not always was in his comfort zone.

The other day David, one of the students that I share my home with, arranged a farewell dinner for two of his classmates that he had known since Day 1 of his studies. The dinner marked, I guess, to all of the 15 students a door that opened the next steps of their lives.

At the time that the last guests of the group stood at the gate of our home, toxic masculinity needed to give way for sharing their emotions, tears and hugs at their entering the diverse paths that they were no more walking together.

David (left) with his friends

***

Globally, or should we say NorthSouthGlobally, this First Sunday of Advent marks not only opening, or lifting up, the gates and the doors (see Psalm 24:7-9), but rather closing them down.

The success of South African scientists in identifying a new variant of the COVID virus, named omicron, resulted in a disaster not only in economy but human relations between those in the South and those in the North.

The whole region of Southern Africa was separated from much of the rest of the world, out of the fear of death.

That’s why I am prepared to not seeing my family over the coming Christmas (and who knows how many to come), but also opening my home to those that might get stuck by the newly erected corona curtain.

So, for me, today’s revolutionary Psalm 24 got a whole new relevance and meaning.

Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.

Prophet Isaiah did not express the message any more shy (62:10):

Go through, Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, Build up the highway! — Surely your salvation is coming.

I wonder how the Church will pioneer the message in this coming Christmas time.

***

A pioneer in many fields, my friend and student Martti Havukainen, a Pentecostal Christian, posted me today a picture from his cottage, looking into a lake wearing its wintery blanket of snow and ice.

A lake shore is another encounter, between land and water. Who would not want to cross it?

Martti sent a photo from his cottage at Kutusalmi, Saarijärvi, Kaavi, Northern Savo, Finland.

Black Tax

I think I heard the term black tax from my students and comrades Lannie and Romario on our two weeks’ long trip around Namibia for almost a year ago.

My early and, thus, superficial interpretation of black tax, back then was that of restriction and limit, even a burden.

Young black people have to graduate soon and get regular income to start making money that they need to give to others, also outside their core family.   

Since then, I have learned, understood and experienced the importance of and belongingness to the extended family for these young, talented millennials, with a caring soul.

They belong to the generation that is looking forward to making Africa the next superpower, as Lannie phrases his vision.

And in their vision, as how I have learned to understand it, black tax has twin faces, almost as Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, transitions and ends, had.

Millennials, coping with the vague expectations of our era, dearly love their families, respect their roots, and would do anything they can to ensure an increasingly good life to their closest ones.

At the same time, they are anxious of the future – what will the life, outside their family, context and culture, demand from them? What should they achieve, learn and master to become real change makers?

Are we for the back tax, or is the black tax for us?

***

From this background, it was revealing to read a book on black tax, compiled by Niq Mhlongo.

The cover of the Black Tax book

The editor has managed to find a set of authors that have written their personal and touching stories of how black tax has been both burden and ubuntu of their own lives, and that of their family members.

I have to confess that the reading took a long time for me. I could not but empathize in the real life narratives of the authors.

Most seriously, I was thinking of the future of the young people I am living with, and that of their loving families.

While these millennials are building the foundations for the next steps in their lives, will they afford to have energy, courage and patience to prepare themselves with the time and care demanded?

Will they remember to love themselves as they do their nearest ones?

Will they have ears open enough to hear how their families wish them the best for their lives, and how they have set them free?

Will they take their time to research, develop and innovate their own lives – so that their dreams will come true?

***

My mother just turned ninety, and is, hence, certainly not a millennial.

At her birthday party, last July, his little – yes – brother thanked her for reaching out to him during the years of his study.

I wonder if this was an instance of the collective family responsibility (a term suggested by Mzuvukile Maqetuka for rephrasing black tax) that Finnish families were practicing during the post war years?

Or the many examples of my father’s family – he grew up in poverty at a small farm in North Karelia, born in 1929 – when they exercised the interdependence of one another, by sharing but also following up or even controlling each other.

Many stories since my early childhood resembled those told in the Black Tax book.

***

Finland recovered by mutual responsibility within families, and beyond those, within the society. So will Africa.

And that requires that we all stand by the millennials, the future of not just Africa, but our common globe.

Living with students

Being a professor living outside my home country, within a diversity of foreign cultures and backgrounds, and surrounded by students who – without hesitation – claim to be way younger than me, I wondered that maybe I should not live alone.

I did live alone for most of the COVID Year No. 1, 2020. In a lovely house in Windhoek, with six rooms, and a garden, and a pool, all to myself. My wife was, and still is, in Finland, as is most of my family and other people that I love.

Being a professor, reading and writing alone as a hermit, was not bad at all. I even managed to write, by online collaboration with my PhD student Ant Cooper, a book on Digital Theology, in this inspiring milieu, no one disturbing or intervening. What could have been, or be, a better place for an academic?

But it is not only that my students need to grow towards what their future would expect from them, but I also have to grow, not only backward, referring to what my students would call prehistory (which is the time that I was their age), or down, but straight ahead and up.

Being a professor (which should by now be clear to all my readers), I started to rethink what a university ideally is. Isn’t it a learning community, a modern mix of home, monastery, college, Bauhaus, or, yes, an African homestead for an extended family where people share life in? A 24/7 Alma mater – a place for exploring and acting together.

So I started to get young(er!) people to live with me. I managed to book one room for myself, and the rest were taken by students. At the peak we were six altogether, the current head or mind count is four. My role is to encourage my minors to grow beyond their limits, get self-confidence, courage and – to some extent – skills, knowledge and wisdom.

Converting into a life-long learner, for me this academic live life is a priority beyond any expectation. The facts that Liesa, the house manager rather than a domestic worker, is taking care of the house, and Shilongo, the gardener is staying on the same premises and solving all the technical problems, and the further fact that all of us are waiting for my wife to join for her occasional stays, gives another momentum for our tiny pop-up university to prepare all its members for transforming our everyday surroundings, not only in the years to come but right now.

Maybe the future of universities is where it all started: people living with each other, building trust, understanding each other, listening more than talking (I am only at the preschool stage in this subject).

Becoming an academic nomad, I hear an invitation to realize the dream also as a mobile academia.

“It is what it is”

I woke up yesterday at 5am.

What do I want?

Today? asked Lannie.

Not only, but in life, for the years to come.

As a professor, one learns little by little what one teaches.

I had been emphasizing, when talking with Lannie and Romario, the importance of knowing what to want.

They told to me that it is a hard one. My domestic worked Liesa agreed, on our drive to a mall.

“It is what it is.” Whatever we want, does not finally matter.

Modern life requires, increasingly, decision making. And decision making is personal, subjective, not only a mathematical optimization problem, but an emotionally loaded question.

On our way to the mall, we stopped by Emmanuel who was selling watermelons, the season has just started. Which melon does each of us want? And how to choose a good one? The one I like, so that I won’t get disappointed.

But a question of wanting can be far trickier. Even as a question of identity. To make a choice, I need to know who I am. What are my tastes, my preferences, my talents, my passion? My will?

I was reading today Alison’s & Alison’s book Rapport (Vermilion, 2020). They describe experiments where subjects stayed in rooms with no sensory stimulation. After seven days (the experiment was supposed to take six weeks) no one could continue, after starting to fail in thinking and decision making.

My layman’s interpretation was that decision making, and hence wanting, requires a stimulating environment that gives us feedback. But we need also stimuli from within.

“It is what it is.” With few stimuli, we end up indifferent and lose our motivation. Loneliness – the Alisons write – means that others do not know or understand the inner us. Loneliness leads to our getting little if any relevant, or stimulant feedback.

Aesthetic feedback which would touch us with all our senses.

I am learning Namibia by her people. I am trying to figure out my young friends’ experiences of badly wanting something, struggling for the goal, having it done, getting exhausted. And becoming happy – a balance of meaningfulness and pleasure, as Professor Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics (yes, they do explore happiness at the business school) writes in his book Happiness by Design.

But those that I talked to have few, if any, of these experiences.

Another book that I browsed today is McIntyre’s Namibia (6th edition, Bradt, 2019). The travel guide told how Western media makes Bushmen to walk in their traditional costumes across a hot salt-pan, for the film crew to get prizes by photogenic poses.

But the scene makes no sense. Why, would the Bushmen ask. Why should they want this, I would add.

How far is the artificial view from the uncontrived way of Bushmen’s lives.

The current academic milieux, whether in Namibia, Finland or wherever, are ranked by expectations that are as distant to the soul of the universal academy as the Western filmmakers are from the Bushmen.

Now wonder that many of us, whether students or teachers, don’t know what to want.

“It is what it is.”

But it does not need to be. It can change. But that requires us to want, and know what to want.

Me as well.

Angry wives

My wife is reading an introduction to diverse ways of how women can be angry.

There are two major ways for a wife, or a woman in general, to be aggressive: positively or negatively. That is what she is learning from the book.

I have to say that her readings had an emotional transfer on me: I also got angry, and I guess negatively.

It was an interesting observation. Reflections on a handbook of female aggressions make a male aggressive, even via a digital connection. Another indication of the reality of the digital world. And the North-South connectivity.

In general, I told to my still dear wife, I would not need a manual to learn about the anger of ladies. Or of the anger of gentle(?)men either. Nowadays, I just want to be, live and work with people that I like.

And I appreciate if my mates and partners, whether in work, at home or elsewhere, retain their aggressions behind.

My family members – not that many others – would know that I have not been very good at that art at all. I am trying to de-learn aggression in Africa, the location of my anger management program.

At least for me, fun, not aggression, is the key factor for creative energy, ideas and – how is it called? – flow.

Way back I read the famous story by Hans Christian Andersen What Father Does Is Always Right (or in some other translations, the Old Man – well, I am both).

The story tells how the husband traded the property of a modest household finally for a basket of rotten apples.

But the wife had not read the anger guide.  So I guess it was the wife’s overwhelming confidence in her husband’s miserable mistakes of his businesses that transformed the threating poverty into richness and happiness.

Or maybe it was love? Blind love. Positive love? (At least it must not have been negative love, although maybe the book would have clarified my thoughts here.)

I wonder what the feedback of an either positively or negatively charged wife would have resulted in.

I guess I have received so much of the undeserved and unfounded love from my wife – with my mistakes and my anger and my aggression – that she needed to do the reading of the manual.

At the time of emerging aggressions, hate and conflicts, it might be more constructive to learn from Andersen than from the Finnish therapists.

When we talk, hours and hours, day and night, with my Namibian friends, but also digitally with others, the anger horizon of the whole world opens up.

People have so many reasons to recall all the unjust that they are all the time encountering in life.

Like my grandmother who kept writing letters to her ex-husband throughout the rest of her life. Decades. And as far as I have understood, they were not traditional love letters.

Many years back I was chairing a keynote by President Benjamin Mkapa. With no other questions after his great talk, I needed to give mine:

Why do so many people in Africa look happy, even within a range of difficulties that they are living in?

Of course, most people with more judgment than me would regard the question childish and not very well informed.

Maybe it is the sun, the President was joking. But more seriously, the relations are still there, within a family, he continued.

At the time that people are talking increasingly about healthy food, maybe we could get a step further up in Maslow’s hierarchy and talk about healthy relationships.

We don’t talk about aggressive food either, even with chili (but maybe it is an example of positively aggressive food).

A call for another book?

Flipped church

Yesterday and the day before, we enjoyed the Digital Theology in the Global South symposium and hackathon (https://ftlab.utu.fi/node/151).  

Thirty people from four continents were exploring the arising horizons of the encounter of interactive technology and faith expressed as theology in the context of the Global South, in particular Africa, the emerging epicenter of Christianity.

Among several highlights that you can read later in the coming proceedings, Solomon, in his presentation Smart Technologies in Digital Theology in the Global South, brought up the idea of flipped sermon that he later generalized into flipped church.

Flipped church comes from the concept of flipped classroom where the roles teachers and learners and processes of teaching and learning are transformed to their opposites.

Earlier, the teacher prepared the lessons, delivered them at the lesson or lecture, to be later studied by the students at home.

Flipping the scenario will have learners to get familiar with the material before meeting with teachers and peer students. In the flipped classroom, at what earlier was called a lesson, the prepared students will challenge the teacher to answer questions, lead the conversation and scaffold the joint venture for shared understanding. Afterwards, hopefully both learners and teachers will be inspired to synthesize what they learned together, for novel insights and ideas.

A flipped sermon translates to a process where the congregation will explore the readings of the next Sunday beforehand, individually or together making use of all available, occasionally seemingly irrelevant information, and thus preparing themselves for a novel experience of co-sermon.

Another presenter, Walter, in his talk Digital Theology and the expression, elaboration and communication of faith, exemplified a flipped sermon with a cartoon where the Pope (apparently Francis!) was sitting in the first row, alone, listening to a sermon given by a highly diverse group of people from around the world.

But Solomon continued. He called us to ponder the idea of flipped church. And imagine how smart technologies would facilitate it.

Flipping is a highly Christian concept. Christianity means rethinking, swapping, exchanging. Getting rid of the old, the sin that binds us, and continue our walks liberated. That is also the idea of learning.

Martin Luther used the term sweet exchange: a human gives their sins to Christ, Christ justifies them by his righteousness. Jesus beatitudes in his (co-?)sermon on the mount (Mt. 5) expresses similar exchanges, transformations, swaps.

A flipped church concretized. Leaders starting to serve, the first becoming the last, the clean the dirty. Children showing the example. Blind seeing, the captured released.

Technology, when designed for, with and at the church, should always serve flipping. This is what I heard also our Namibian participants, like Isak and Dan, sketching: flipped church, with apps made in Namibia.

Thanks all participants, and the organizers Ant and Anna, for starting a flipped journey for digital theology in the Global South, and beyond.

Learning Mathematics: Another Freedom Fight?

Recently at our ftlab.utu.fi, we launched what we call a Dream Team.

The Dream Team is a group of undergraduate students that – in a self-organizing, student-led way – will carry out projects and initiatives and missions and free explorations that take them closer to their own dreams.

And maybe not only come closer to something that they are not yet aware of.

More than that: they are co-struggling to grasp what they want of their lives and future. Within all anguish and anxiety that they are going through, in these troubling and confusing times when even the present seems to be hiding itself, making us lose ourselves.

This week they started to work on designing a game, intended mostly at primary school kids, to learn mathematics in context.

As you can imagine, the Dream Team can make use of the very inspiring and enjoyable weather of Namibia.

Three of them – Kondja, Lannie and Romario – started ideating in the outdoor (but of course!) pool at my home and the next day – yes, two of them stayed overnight at my home – they continued by a whiteboard next to the pool.

Better conditions than in California?

But even so, after a few hours the two looked really sad.

“What’s the problem? You look unhappy?”

“No, not at all, we are just thinking.”

But should you look unhappy when you are thinking? I was wondering.

And it turned out that they really were, seriously, thinking.

But not of – happily – designing the game for younger students to learn maths, but of – sorrowingly – their own struggling in Pre Calculus, as the name of the course of their test last week reads.

By me intervening in their student-led leadership – which I am trying to avoid – they decided to devise a plan for their own mathematical survival at the cost of helping others by the future game.

Sometimes one needs to be selfish to be able to be unselfish later.

I also needed to refresh my own calculus after, yes, decades!

But that also offered me a bridge to the brains of my young Namibian friends.

Next day my dear colleague Laszlo continued with them for another three hours, practicing maths by hands-on exercises.

But also conversing what really is important in maths: comprehending it, applying it, bringing it into one’s own life.

Converting maths from an oppressor, alien, master or enemy towards a companion, friend, partner.

Because a former boss and master should be tamed rather enslaved.

Making a dream come true always calls for a fight for freedom. Freedom and liberty are spaces one has to have for true creativity and expression.

Namibian people have successfully fought for their political freedom. Role models are there.

But all of us have many other freedom fights to do.

One is the fight for digital freedom, another for a freedom in mathematics.

Because if one does not understand mathematics but needs it anyway for realizing their dreams, one either needs to give up the dreams or will end up in the slavery of incomprehension.

A freedom fight requires further companions and allies. I was but a modest troop for a few hours, Laszlo volunteered a longer time.

And now were are talking of setting up a co-mathematizing team as an online community to fight for maths freedom together. Anyone reading these lines and getting interested?

Somehow I feel that the Dream Team is joining the walks that many other (sic!) mathematicians wandered before them.

Like the Spaniard Miguel de Guzmán who wrote his Aventuras Matemáticas – wasn’t it when he was at hospital? – to heal the fear of mathematics.

Or the originally Dutch but later Mozambican (isn’t it fair to say this?) Paulus Gerdes who got inspired, while teaching the Frelimo freedom fighters in Tanzania, by the number systems and mathematical patterns in African languages and cultures for his later studies and books on Ethnomathematics.

Even when Mathematics strives to be universal and free from any particular cultural context or folklore – and in that way struggles its independence from any given setting – its applications are explored and enjoyed in real-life settings.

And the understanding and creation of Mathematics always takes place in the confusion, conditions and chaos that surrounds mathematicians.

The Dream Team is participating the universal struggle for freedom. And that fight requires blood, sweat and tears.

But the role models show that the struggle pays off.

Jacaranda – but you did not see it?

To my daughter Laura on your birthday today

This is the jacaranda season in Namibia.

Trees blossoming in purple all around in Windhoek celebrate the turn of the short Namibian spring into the full summer and all the glory of its first days.

A week ago I was driving with Liesa, my domestic worker, and Anna, my PhD student, to a mall a few miles away.

On the fifteen minutes’ drive, I could not but mention jacaranda quite a few times, in infatuation.

  • What are you talking about, asked Anna.

And it turned out that during her many years of studying and working in Windhoek she had never paid attention to, or even seen or observed, a jacaranda.

I got curious.             

And yes: most local people I talked to had never seen the purple miracle of Windhoek.

My colleague Prof Meurig has been working almost his lifetime with what he calls Empirical Modelling.

The idea is that you start learning from observations that he calls observables (but, again, what makes a thing observable). Little by little, when you get familiar with the observables, you start to see how they are dependent on each other: their ecosystem.

Empirical Modelling is based on a viewpoint very complementary to the deductive model of starting learning from theories (‘theory’ comes a Greek verb for seeing, btw – but how many of us can see by theories).

Meurig and his group, including my colleague Nick now busy leading a development project for remote presence, have invented a whole platform for Empirical Modelling for facilitating the process of explorative learning.

So what I learned from my dear Namibian friends who now saw the purple jacaranda (and more and more of them, day by day) the first time in their lives: they had travelled their life along a fast track, following the advice, guidelines and directions that someone else gave to them. They had followed a curriculum, a racecourse of life.

When I got out of high school, I got many gifts. But the only one I recall was a book of poems that included one:

”Kuljit elämän pitkin nopeaa ohitustietä,/ ja niin jäi elämä löytämättä.”

“You traversed your life by a fast bypass,/ and so the life remained hidden.”

In fact, jacarandas are not native to Namibia but newcomers or immigrants from Latin American and the Caribbean.

That might another reason that they blossom unobserved. As so many human immigrants around the world.

In her short story “Invisible Child”, Tove Jansson, as I recall, needed to regain her voice to be heard and observed.

But for someone or something to be heard or seen or tasted or touched or scented, their observers need to open their senses as well. Become curious, aware of the richness and diversity and surprises of the surroundings that have this far remained unknown to them.

We need a trusted outsider to help us in becoming more sensitive.

Many years back I got a card from my uncle who was visiting Paris.

Find colours, Erkki!

Thanks Laura for opening a horizon of rainbows in my life, ever since your birth on a glorious Finnish autumn day!

I guess Supreeta, the wife of my dear friend Kavi, would join in my congratulations to you, by her poem Jacaranda:

Jacaranda

On a dull Monday morn

As I stare vacantly forlorn

A sight shocks me out of stupor

The Jacaranda blooming in splendor…

Tresses of vibrant purple

Forming a magnificent spectacle

Ever so gently swaying

Celebrating life, mocking

The scene subtle yet so sharp

Whirls me into a time warp..

Long lost memories cascade

In kaleidoscopic palisade..

The warmth laden spring air

Of languorous days without care

Times filled with zest and hope

When the spirit could bounce and cope

Reminisces cloaked in hues of green

Of new born foliage sparkling clean

A meadow dotted with the magenta head

Of a mimosa sprig sprung from the dead

Of Gulmohurs flaunting their blazing red

With carpets beneath waiting to be tread

Soporific summer afternoons

Enchanting dreams under silvery moons

Flying kites, scraped knees

Fleeing from angry bees

The first delicious rainy spell

Grandma’s wafers’ heavenly smell

Of monsoon ponds with croaking frogs

And balancing on slimy logs

Over streams gushing

And brooks rushing

Jacaranda!—fill me with passion and desire

Oh Jacaranda!- keep me alive forever!

– Supreeta Arya (2011)

With Giovanni in Special Strengths Education

I visited with my PhD student Anna and her student Maggie the Integrate Sensory Centre in Windhoek.

Maggie, with two of her peers, will do a design project at the school that Carmen the principal with her whole loving learning community of learners and their teachers and other staff had opened to us.

It will be an open assignment in co-design: the three university students will work at the school with learners to come up with digital solutions – or one – that would help them to express themselves and their talents, learn and communicate.

It was the first time ever that Maggie or Anna visited what usually is called a school for special needs education.

Maggie told that she was expecting something that could be a regular- (“regular minus”) school; something that would resemble a school for regular education but lack in some of the resources, furniture, equipment, and so on.

So the surprise was huge for all of us when we came into a most modern learning milieu that lets everyone to be themselves, learn from their own starting (or why not staring) points, express themselves, explore by their own interests.

I got even a personal treat.

Giovanni, a young gentleman with autism, was generous enough to hug me at the very outset, and decided to stay in my lap throughout the two hours that we spent at the school.

When he thought that I was ready to communicate with him, he moved my fingers to touch the dinosaurs that he was playing with.

He is nonverbal, but who cares – he does.

So why on earth do we talk about special needs education when the whole idea of learning is about respecting the diversity – a small theologian in me would say “diversity of creation” – and finding the ways that everyone can express their own and unique talents?

Needs are excuses for us to fix the holes that we see in others; strengths are what we can invite others to complement us with.

So what about Special strengths education? Where a tailor-made, co-designed technology facilitates its individual user to grow and bring to others where they excel and be at their best.

For me, Giovanni’s unique strength is that of welcoming and including me in his sphere.

His open heart made me feel that I belong here in this city and country and continent – an expression of Ubuntu beyond any of its theorization.  

I am sure that the students will find a way—with Giovanni and his peers—by which technology extends their users’ personalities and special abilities, and releases them of any barriers whatsoever that might prevent them from being their true selves.  

The solutions that we are exploring with the school can be known as open arms technology, loving technology, or cozy technology.

A bit like a red wall in the kitchen of our Finnish home that my other PhD student Hesam—an industrial designer—interprets as welcoming him to our home in Finland.

The times and days are fortunately gone in which deaf people needed to simulate a language spoken and heard by the mainstream.

I am writing this on the day that marks the 21st anniversary of my own PhD defense at University of Helsinki.

I am always thankful for the encouragement that I received—during the seven years’ walk to my academic freedom—from my co-supervisor, professor Jorma who turned his own personal struggles into openness and patience that he needed to lead my first steps of the academic life that has now taken me to Namibia.

But today also marks the day of funeral of my old friend Esko who likened my work as a professor to that of a conductor of a symphony where everyone plays with their own instrument.

A hundred years back in the European continent—during the peak years of colonization—a movement called Bauhaus started to influence the ways that a design process would lead to industrial products that serve their everyday functions in a natural way.

In the middle of the global pandemic, European voices expressed by her leaders call for a new Bauhaus movement.

While waiting for that, we are starting another at the Integrate school in Windhoek.

“He is my son!”

celebrated the Mother of Tanaka Makuvaza, the student that received his award for being the best fourth year student at the UNAM Faculty of Science this year.

She had joined her son onto the podium. Tanaka was there to get his trophy from the dean of the faculty. There they were, congratulated and photographed. And when leaving back for their seats, the Mother acclaimed what I want to repeat and what each and everyone in the Gym Hall could hear:

-He is my son!

These four words captured the lifelong love, belongingness and shared road of the two. The pride. The goals, determination, and finally the achievement that the trophy stood for. The four words were a symbol for all that a mother can experience in and by her son. Simple words, content beyond expression.

I had been invited to the annual event by my colleague, Dr Kauna Mufeti, the associate dean of the Faculty and the head of the School of Computing. The formal program consisted of speeches and music. The best students of each module, of each subject, and finally of the whole faculty were recognised.

What really impressed me most was the excitement, encouragement, and mutual care of the students and their loved ones.

One student, of Statistics, could not help but run to her Mother right from the podium. Another one, a young biologist, got hugs from his girlfriend (well, I suppose so), and the girlfriend got his medal as an exchange. A student from Mathematics – well, you know, mathematicians are usually a bit reserved in showing their emotions – received an award in all the categories, and with each one, the smile of his Mother got wider and wider. Yet another student, from Physics, burst into tears, only to be consoled by her head of the department who gave her award.

That Physics professor also told the audience how all achievement starts from the love for science. In some way, the students’ love, for science but also for the extended learning community, concretised in the event.