Princess Allotey, a Centre College junior with a declared major in Mathematics & Data Science and a minor in Education, is studying abroad at the University of Reading this semester. Her activities on campus include serving as a Centre Ambassador, a member of the International Students Association (ISA), the Poverty and Homelessness Committee and the Student Judiciary. Allotey is also a Lincoln Scholar at Centre, a program for students who have the capacity and a deep desire to change the world. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue postgraduate studies in the mathematical sciences. Born and raised in the Greater Accra region of Ghana (West Africa), Allotey came to the United States in 2017 to pursue one of her goals: obtaining a liberal arts education. She says she is excited to study abroad at the University of Reading, as this is an opportunity for her to meet more people from different places and to learn more about British culture.
After flying for a total of 10 hours, I arrived in the U.K. on September 22 at 7:05 a.m. British Summer Time (BST). This is my third opportunity to study abroad this year through Centre, as I was in Ghana (yes, I went back to my country!) in January for a CentreTerm program with Professor Sarah Murray, and in Singapore in July to conduct research on its mathematics education system. I am learning so much about myself and the people around me since arriving in the U.K. In this blog, I will talk about my experience meeting people from all over the world (including Ghanaians), and my experiences exploring the language of the universe (mathematics!).
Before the end of my first week at the University of Reading, I had already made friends with new students and study abroad students from France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, the U.S. and the U.K., including getting to know more about Centre students from Japan and China. I met most of my friends in Wantage Hall, my residence hall here at the University of Reading (really, it is a great pleasure to stay at Wantage Hall, as it is the first residence hall at the University, built in 1906). While interacting with them, I have learned more about how, despite our different cultural backgrounds, we have various beliefs and characteristics that intersect. For example, even though we speak different languages back in our home countries, all of us are fundamentally bilingual or trilingual, and we also have aspirations after completing our undergraduate studies. My experiences with these amazing people remind me of Maya Angelou’s poem “Human Family,” and most essentially the line, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
I was also excited to find out about the Ghanaian Society at the University of Reading. I have had physical meet-ups with them each week, including opportunities to play some Ghanaian childhood games (for example, Ampe), to speak some local Ghanaian languages and slang with them, and to eat some Ghanaian food the traditional way using our hands. I consider our way of eating “an art,” as there are innovative ways that we can grab a section of the main dish with our fingers and dip the food in a soup or hot sauce enriched with some meat, fish or protein source. I was happy to find out that there are a lot of African restaurants in Reading, including three Ghanaian restaurants where I can get some authentic and very delicious Ghanaian Kenkey, Jollof, Fufu, Waakye, Ampesi, Banku and Kelewele. The chance to meet more native Ghanaians and to also have dialogue on opportunities we have to learn more and to give back to our country felt very refreshing.
Growing up and attending school in Ghana, I had learned, read of and was inspired by British mathematicians and scientists who made significant contributions to the scientific community and to current technological advances in the world. These include George Boole (Boolean Logic), John Venn (Venn Diagrams), Isaac Newton (Law of gravitation) and Augustus De Morgan (De Morgan’s laws). I consider it a great opportunity to study mathematical concepts in a country with a rich history of mathematicians and scientists. Last week, I got the opportunity to go visit the city of Oxford with a number of my friends. One of the places we visited was the History of Science Museum. Among many other things, I had the opportunity to see The Einstein Blackboard, used by Einstein (for a lecture series) during his visit to Oxford in 1931.
As my time here continues, I know there is more to discover about the U.K. Specifically, experiences that will further prepare me to be a global citizen and for a life of “learning, leadership and service.” I still do miss my family at Centre, including the students, staff and faculty who have directly or indirectly guided me on campus and with preparing for this study abroad program.
by Princess Allotey ’21
November 11, 2019