Back from Africa
view on Chicago downtown

Netiva is back from Benin, Africa


Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. - R. W. Emerson.
Market at Lagoon Shore near Cotonou
I lived for 2003-2004 in Porto Novo, Benin.

It is there that I wrote my travel journal of my year at Benin University where I taught and lived.

It was a fabulous year... I have become a Beninese...but there is no place like home...and home can be many places... Now home is in Chicago, but easily it could be in Benin, Israel, or Paris.
My final report to the Fulbright office, in word format.

A day in my life.



Have travelled to Israel twice, Paris 3 times, Costa Rica twice, Amsterdam once or twice, Wisconsin once, NY twice, but sure could use staying home more often.


The Russians are here for a visit.


Mon. May 16thHave just arrived in Israel. Some walk in my neighborhood in Skokie with Sheila and Ginger.
A day in my office and hanging paintings in an exhibit.

Sun. May 1st, 2005: It has been a long semester at work: Teaching a new course of web development client-side. I learned a lot. Since Nov. we have been to Israel to visit family, and on a short cruise in the Carribeans. I also had a guest from Benin, Louis with whom I've mounted an art exhibit at Northeastern library.
I have been showing my Benin Powerpoint presentations in many occasions. They were always very well received.
In May I'm going back to Israel, then NY for a weekend. In June am going on a Freeman grant to Korea to study Asian culture and help integrate it into our curriculum. In Aug. after a workshop and a conference I'll go relax with my family in Hawaii , before starting the new school year. I'll be teaching in a learning community, a new concept in pedagogy.

Sun. Nov. 28th, 2004: It seems as if this has become a monthly report. Not a bad idea. Thanksgiving holiday was great at home with family and friends, and of course a lot of good food.
My university is on strike. We walk the picket-line. I'm not too happy about it as feel it's divisive. I hope it will end soon.

Sat. Oct. 30th: I guess I got into the stream of life here, too busy to keep this page updated. I've travelled this month to Florida and Memphis. I still have an art exhibit in Orlando, Florida. I have given several talks about my year in Benin and women in computing.

Fri. Sept 24th: Had breakfast with the president of Lithuania, Hon. Hartigan, the consule general of the Netherlands, and other dignitaries. It was interesting.

Tues. Sept 21st: Dinner with my girlfriends.

Mon. Sept 20th: Had lunch with 2 representatives to Congress and other business leaders. We talked about international involvement, and I related of my visit and life in Benin.

Thur. Sept. 16th: celebrated Rosh Hashana with friends and 2 Lithuanians guests from an NGO delegation by the State dept.

Mon. Aug. 30th: I can't believe a whole month has passed. I spent 2 weeks in Israel and last weekend in Galena, Ill. Tomorrow school is starting for me, with 2 new courses and 1 renewed. Lots of work. What a pleasure...:)

Sun. July 31st: We celebrated today Irene's birthday. It was good. I can't believe I have been a mom for a quarter century...

Mon. July 26th: Am cleaning up the house, the office. Saw the movie Farenheit 9/11. Yesterday enjoyed a couple sunny but cool hours in my garden reading while my girls went to the Renaissance Fair to re-experience medieval times:)

Thur. July 22nd: I've been walking every day this week with friends in parks, in my neighborhood or in the forest. Ginger, my dog, of course loves to accompany me. Benin is always on my mind, maybe because I'm constantly asked about it. It seems as if I'm still there although am thousands of miles away.

Sun, July 18th: Yesterday we met with our crew for the three-day walk for breast cancer prevention. These were neat ladies. I think we'll have a great time together crewing the walk in Aug.

July 14th: Joyeux jour de la Bastille!
Am in Rochester Institut of Technology, NY, where am taking a Software Engineering Curriculum course. I am learning a lot.


July 11th: We spent a nice day at the Botanic gardens yesterday. The weather was great and the flowers blooming.

July 5th, 2004: Celebrated my birthday yesterday, July 4th at Skokie parade and 2 bar-b-qs. On July 2nd Ashley's birthday, she woke me up at 5 am to announce that she got accepted to medical school in Israel. Am so proud of her and wish her good luck and a happy belated birthday.

with my girls

Summary of my stay in Benin

For a very long time I have wanted to live in Africa.  Despite all my preparation, it was very different than anything expected.  

The whole stay was one big adventure. I don't regret a thing even though the beginning was very hard. I have started by making friends with artists and musicians in Porto-Novo, and like artists all over the world, these were easy-going welcoming people.
The American Cultural Center was more than helpful in organizing an art exhibit for my work and four other artists of my choice, in honor of February, Black-history month.
The press was at opening night and we became instant celebrities.
It was a first-time exhibit for three of the artists, and they were more than grateful.
This was one gratifying event. Another event that professionally made a difference to me was the colloquium that I organized.
Despite the lack of money and weak local organization, I considered it very successful and felt gratified in accomplishing this hard task. I was told several times that my presence alone has impacted on the institute by assisting them in establishing a new computer engineering program.
Personally I enjoyed giving talks and bringing awareness on topics not well known by Beninese in computer ethics, computer security and gender issues in computing.
All in all I believe my experience in Benin will play a transformative role in my life, more personally than professionally.
I found a second home in Benin, and felt its people were my brothers and sisters.
I believe Benin has much to offer the Western world and have urged its people to be proud of their heritage and share of their wisdom and culture more readily.

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