Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sixth night in Kigali

It is the 19th of August and we are tired, so taking the evening off from meetings and dinners.
Eva taught a small class of 24 students this morning and tonight she is teaching an even smaller group of parttime students on Global Organization.

Andrew came and picked Paul up this morning at 7.30am(!) to meet the minister of science and technology (on Paul's left in the picture, David is the taller man on Paul's right). The minister was a professor in mathematics and physics at the university of Atlanta. He came back some years ago to help lead the country, as so many Rwandans in the diaspora did. He believe in the importance of knowledge in development and is an admirer of Paul Romer's work.

Paul and Andrew continued a discussion begun yesterday about theories of development, contrasting the view of Yang and the "infra-marginal" school, which emphasize the role of specialization and the development of skills in increasing productivity, with views centering on the role of investment and institutions to support that.

The minister joined us at lunch to talk about what we can do for Rwanda. The reply came quickly, anything you want. We would be delighted if we could establish a partnership of sort. We went on discussing all sorts of possibilities. A satelite Stanford campus maybe? Or should be continue working with the SFB? Not clear what is possible and we shall look into the possibilities.

I am sure of the possibility to recurit good teachers. Not only becuase there are people who want to do good, the Rwandans are an interesting group of people, but also because there are so many exciting things to do. Gorillas, safaris, Zanzibar the romantic paradise island, and Kilimanjaro nearby.

After lunch, Paul and Eva went separate ways. Paul visited the Policy Research Institute, which is eager to network with SIEPR.

On the way out from lunch Eva was introduced to Kaia Miller, the director the Aslan global institute, that Michael Porter started. The institute focuses on leadership in emerging markets. They would love for Carol Dweck for instance to come to lecture about her theories of intelligence and in particular about her book Mindset.

It is clear that one of the problems Rwanda is struggling with is a very particular kind of mindset, I (Eva) think. Today I asked the students how one shows comittment to an organization. One of them answered by orgnizing meetings. The others nodded. I realized that this is what has been going on for the last 9 months in setting up our program. It has been a frustrating process where people have been "organizing meetings" to generate a schedule for teaching and generating a program for the visiting speakers. But nothing happens! When I ask my students where they want to work after graduations a majority says, government agency, that is a secure and prestigious job. Some said that I want to make money, and this was clearly a very peculiar thing to say. It is also a mindset thing.

I also had a very interesting discussion in class about diversity in particular about religion.
Who decides in the family, who has the control? The women, the men or do they decide jointly? There were different opinions, but all the men said it was the man. One of the students exclaimed, the man is the head of the family: it is decided by God. (He was a pentacostal).

When we had gone through the different denominations represented in class, from the reborn Christians, Anglicans, Muslims, and Pentacostals, I told them I was Jewish. The Pentacostal asked about something he had been thinking about for a long time: Since Jesus was Jewish, why were the Jews in Israel not Christians? A good question. I said something about Jesus not being a Christian at all, but that Paulus had made him into one because he decided to create a new church and that Jesus may not have liked this idea at all. I am sure this answer was not a satisfactory one but still. I very much enjoy the discussion we have in class. I know that they are not used to speak in class and they are very reserved and soft spoken. I tell them I have a hearing problem and then they raise their voices a bit.

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