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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Daring to be Different

I remember the night I received an email to join the Grinnell Science Project (GSP) like yesterday. It was penned by Joyce Stern. I read it excitedly and then rushed into my parents’ bedroom – I had been accepted to join another pre-orientation program!

By virtue of birth I am an American, born in New York, but that was how far my relationship with America went. I had no ties to America whatsoever, it was just my birthplace. I had lived in Ghana all my life and went to school there as well. It was where I called home. Although, my passport may say otherwise, I will always be a Ghanaian first. The wonderful staff of Grinnell College recognized this and invited me to the International Student Pre-Orientation Program (IPOP). I was excited to come to school early have a sense of what it meant to be a part of the diverse community Grinnell boasts of and to meet with people from all over the world. However, after I got the invite from GSP, I was confused.

In the first week, while everyone else was stating their hometown state, I was busy explaining the part of the world which I had flown in from just days ago. In a nutshell, GSP helped me break my inferiority complex and the insecurities I had about having a different educational background. GSP helped me not get lost in Noyce during the first week of classes – something I will always appreciate. I also had a smooth transition to studying sciences, and generally every discipline, because of this program. The rigorous schedule also closely modeled my life now as a Grinnell student.

However, there were times when I could tell that people could just not relate to how I felt. Having to repeat myself many times was strange (although I should take some of the blame because I speak so fast). Also, certain things were so new to me, like addressing a professor by their first name or preparing and actually delivering a presentation (that was only done by my teachers in school). Certainly, GSP prepared me for academics here at the College and gave me the opportunity to make really good friends. However, I cannot overlook the weirdness I felt in my first few days.

When I started working at Spencer Grill, it was a disaster. I could not wrap my head around how the nickel was much larger than the dime and I gave people the wrong change all the time. Apparently students who attended IPOP were taught the US monetary system and when I found out I felt really embarrassed.

GSP, PCPOP, and IPOP are all ways the College shows its commitment to diversifying its student population and equipping freshmen for life in Grinnell. However, for students like me, who are on both ends of the spectrum, attending a pre-orientation program which was very specific in its goals and targets did not adequately prepare me for life in the US. In the future, I hope that these programs will have a more intersectional approach in addressing their individual goals, so people like me will fit seamlessly and be truly prepared for life as a student here in Grinnell.

In retrospect, if I could speak to that girl jumping in her parents’ bedroom, I would tell her to stop jumping and get ready for how her life is going to change. Being a Ghanaian student living away from Home can be very confusing. But like every Grinnellian I know, I am aspiring to be different and I hope the college can help us create opportunities so that we Grinnellians can explore the entirety of these differences.

-Angela Frimpong ’20

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