by Mark Wilcox
Michigan Tech and the honors college that bears his family name are mourning the passing of Frank Pavlis. The alumnus, benefactor and friend of the University died Friday, Aug. 24 at Legacy Place Cottages in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He was 101.
Pavlis was raised on a farm in northern Lower Michigan and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He finished at the top of his class with a degree in chemical engineering from what was then the Michigan College of Mining and Technology. Pavlis’ success in Houghton led to a fellowship from the University of Michigan where he earned a master’s degree.
Following college, Pavlis turned down a job offer from Shell Oil to become the first employee of a small new Detroit Company called Air Products. Pavlis was tasked with the design and construction of a prototype processing plant to separate oxygen from atmospheric air. The project was completed a year later with Pavlis as the chief engineer. Air Products was credited with making a significant contribution to Allied success in World War II. Today, Air Products and Chemicals Inc., now headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has more than 19,000 employees in 55 countries with annual revenues of about $10 billion.
Pavlis rose through the ranks, joining the company’s Board of Directors in 1952 and serving as vice president for engineering and finance before retiring in 1980 as vice president for international/world trade. He is said to have traveled around the world five times in his lifetime.
Throughout his professional success, he never forgot Michigan Tech. The University responded by presenting him with an honorary doctorate of philosophy. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009 and is a member of the University’s McNair and Hubbell Societies. He was the principal benefactor of the Pavlis Honors College which began in 2014.
Lorelle Meadows, dean of the Pavlis Honors College, reflected on what Frank Pavlis means to Michigan Tech.
“Frank was a visionary, foreseeing the value of a global education for the college graduate of the 21st century,” Meadows says.
“He so generously gave of his time and resources to encourage our students to reach outside of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to attain their full potential as professionals and citizens of the world.”
Pavlis was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Ethel, in 2002. The couple had no children.
Funeral services for Frank Pavlis will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Macungie, Pennsylvania. Contributions in his memory can be made to Jah Jireh Homes of America – Allentown, 2051 Bevin Dr., Allentown, PA 18103. Donations received will be used to fund charitable care at Legacy Place Cottages.
Pavlis will be laid to rest in the small Michigan cemetery where his wife, parents, grandparents, brother and sister are buried.
“We will all miss Frank greatly,” Meadows says. “But his legacy will live on as we continue to put his vision to work to graduate students who will go out—ready and empowered—to make their unique contributions to society with understanding, vision and a commitment that honors his life.”
For more information about Frank Pavlis or to watch a digital history of the Honors College benefactor visit mtu.edu/honors/about/frank-pavlis.
By: Lianne Novak
Thank you for being patient this week while I wrote the week 5 post for our team blog! We left Accra on Sunday (August 5), and while the rest of the group spends a few weeks vacationing in Europe, I’ve been home unpacking, and fighting a “bug” that I picked up somewhere along the way. Anyway, on Monday we headed back to the dressmaker to pick up the dresses that we left with Nana. They all had longer zippers now, and fit really well when we got them home and tried them on.
Emmanuel came by that evening to say his farewells, and to tell us that his driver would pick us up the next morning at 5am to bring us to Cape Coast. There is no direct bus to Cape Coast, and transferring buses can be a pain since they do not all have a set schedule (some of them leave as they fill). We got a group photo with him (below), along with some individual photos. We chatted for about ten minutes, and loaded the items that he stores for Pavlis groups into his car, too, before he drove off. An inventory of these items was taken so that we can give accurate information to next year’s Ghana group about what’s left for them. We left some cooking supplies including silverware, a hot plate, rice cooker, pan(s) and some dishes, along with 4 standing fans. These were left for us by last year’s group, and Nana and Emmanuel are nice enough to store them in their house for the groups each year.
We finished up our packing that night and went to bed for a relatively long nap before our alarms started going off at 4am. We finished stuffing stuff into our suitcases (ie toothbrushes and PJs), picked up our bags, said our goodbyes to the hostel room, and headed out to meet the driver. The drive to Cape Coast wasn’t very long (about 5 hours), but it was quite bumpy. We made it to Cape Coast and finished checking in at the first hotel by 10:30am (Orange Beach Resort). We still had most of the day to explore the area and see what was around Cape Coast. We headed out going towards the Cape Coast Castle (though from my understanding, it’s being renamed the Cape Coast Dungeon, which might be a more accurate name). Being a tourist town, and the Dungeon a tourist attraction, there are plenty of people trying to get you to either buy their paintings and artwork, as well as children who want you to sponsor them in school. Our understanding from Nana is that school in free in Ghana, and the children all carried around copies of the same letter with their name filled in, so we were suspected that this money was not really for school.
We weren’t warned about this, so we stopped and looked around at the paintings at the various stands, and had to resist purchasing all the paintings. I know that I spent more than I meant to at one of the shops, and had to be very conscious after that outing that this was a tourist destination, and just like any other major tourist area, there would be more than enough souvenirs around, and to resist the temptation to buy every single souvenir you see and like! And, like any other tourist area in the world, there are lots of people trying to make money from the tourists. This was also where a lot of Ghanaians want to be your friend. They want to know your name, and then want to know your number, or address. If you don’t want to give out your information, you have to stand your ground, make up a story if you have to (can’t get/make international calls), and eventually they will go away. You can also be more direct, and flat out say “no,” but I personally felt that they were harmless and 10-15 minutes later they’d go away if your “polite lie” was convincing enough.
We spent a lot of time on the beach relaxing each day, though sitting on the beach and reading wasn’t an option if you were looking for a nice peaceful experience. Kids would come along asking you to sponsor them, or native Ghanaians would come asking you to be their friends. It was a bit easier to relax on the beach at our second hotel (Oasis Beach Resort). The group went out with Evans (staff at Orange Beach, not the same Evans from Babianeha), and another visitor from Norway the first night to the Dungeon. There was a lot of drumming that we could hear from the lounge area and even our room, and so we headed to the Dungeon (almost next door). It was the 20th anniversary of the emancipation of the Door of Return event.
The Dungeon has a Door of No Return, which is the door that the slaves walked out of on their way to the ships that they were shipped out on. In 1998 the Door of No Return got a sign on the other side that reads “Door of Return.” At this ceremony, in ‘98 the bodies of two of the former slaves who had walked through the Door of No Return, returned home through the Door of Return. We stayed for most of the documentary (I think) before we headed home around 10pm. We headed back the next day for the official tour and to see the museum.
The museum was really interesting; they had diagrams and illustrations of the ships and what the slaves had to endure during their time at the Dungeon. There were also photos of some famous African-Americans who are Heroes of Diaspora including Duke Ellington, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, and Stevie Wonder, and Martin Luther King Jr. The tour itself was very eye opening. We were shown the various rooms where slaves were kept for months at a time. These rooms had no windows, usually 1-3 small holes (maybe the size of a window) at the top of one wall that had to be at least two stories high to let light and air in (for 250 men), and there were no bathrooms or latrines. We were also shown the rooms for the women and children over age 13, as well as the Door of No Return. It was hard to think about how those people had suffered.
The next day (Thursday), we moved to the hotel next door (Oasis Beach). We took a trip to the ATM, and also gave Josh and Charles an opportunity to look at some of the shops for souvenirs. We spent a lot of the day relaxing on the beach, writing in journals and reading. We took a trip to Kakum National Park on Friday to go on a canopy walk, which had been highly recommended by the previous group. The canopy walk itself was really fun, and the incline of the hill wasn’t bad, but the stones were not evenly laid, and you had to pay very close attention to your footing to make sure you didn’t slip and trip! Charles took a group selfie (below), and Sonja captured a photo of Lianne and herself on the 2nd or 3rd suspension bridge. We enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing and packing up to head to Accra on Saturday morning.
We didn’t realize that you had to pre-purchase tickets for the bus to Accra from Cape Coast, so we ended up taking a mini-bus (12 passenger van) to the outskirts of Accra where we picked up a taxi to take us to the Airport View Hotel. We spent most of Saturday relaxing at the hotel before our travel, and reshuffling some luggage. Sunday we checked out, and spent time in a lounge area working on our final project report before departing for the airport and our journeys to Europe and the States.
It’s hard to believe how fast our time in Tanzania has gone! In some ways it feels like we just got here (our bartering skills have at least improved a little since our arrival, especially for Ian, who could only get better after that first day in Arusha), yet we are also all looking forward to what comes next (home for some, Europe for others). Our last week has definitely been bitter sweet. We hope you enjoy our last blog post and we thank you for following along on our journey!
We spent the majority of our last week working at Amani’s Children’s Home. On Monday, we all went to Amani’s in the morning. When we arrived, there was a large staff meeting going, which meant we got to spend the morning getting to know the children at the home more. The kids at the home are all so extremely sweet that would never guess some of the challenges they have encountered in their lives. We met many of the kids in the yard, where they were practicing their acrobatics skills. Although all of us tried our acrobatic skills, some had more success than others (aka Andrew, with his gymnastics background). While Andrew continued to show the kids new moves, Lauren and Ian joined in on another soccer game (and got out-played and out-ran), and Jennifer had fun talking with some of the girls.
After the staff meeting was over, we got to work on our project. As explained in our last post, the project we were working on was to create a data metrics display board, with the capability of displaying real time statistics of the organization (number of children rescued in a month or year, number of children reunified with their family, etc.). On Friday last week, we had come up with two potential methods of accomplishing this task. The first was to use Microsoft exclusively, however the problem with this was that Amani is currently transferring their database from Microsoft Excel to another software. Our intent with this plan was to bring the project back to Michigan Tech to get some help from some computer science students, but this would have taken more time and would have possibly led to more work required for the Amani staff. The second option was to use a software that has the compatibility to work with both excel and the database software they are working with. On Monday, we proposed both of these options to the Executive Director of Amani’s, Meindert Schapp. We also showed him a prototype PowerPoint in order to make sure that we were on the right track. After showing him the options, he decided that it would be best to use the more advanced software. Now that we knew how they wanted us to proceed, we were able to get to work on actually implementing the project. As Lauren and Ian got to work on that in the afternoon, Andrew and Jennifer went to the technical college (yes, we still had to be at two places at once again). Last week, we agreed with the principal that we would be assisting in a computer class. However, when we got to the college, we were informed that the computer teacher was not at the college that day, so the computer class was cancelled. Luckily, we were prepared for this outcome (after being in the schools in Boma for three weeks, we had picked up on a few things). We asked the principal which other class we could assist with, and he pointed us to the math class. However, when we got to that class, it turned out that the math teacher wasn’t there either (unfortunately, we were not as prepared for this second setback). We ended up just spending 15 minutes just asking the students questions on what math topics they knew so that we could better prepare for the physics lecture on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, we all headed to Amani’s and continued to work on the PowerPoint. We spent the morning getting more familiar with the software we would be using and working on a project proposal to keep Amani’s informed on the work we were doing. At this point, the main challenge was that we hadn’t yet received the statistics or data we needed to display on the PowerPoint (Amani’s was working on compiling this information for us). This meant that we had some extra downtime in the afternoon, so we got to spend some more time playing with the kids. Andrew continued to make new friends by impressing all the kids (and everyone else) with his backflip skills. He was also able to assist in the kids’ acrobatics class with a coach that comes in weekly. Lauren and Ian spent some time losing to the kids in arm and thumb wrestling (while also being laughed at for having small muscles). Ian also learned how to play tag (and was again outran). While everyone else was playing with the kids, Jennifer had the opportunity to talk with one of the counselors about cultural phycological differences between the US and Tanzania.
Wednesday was a busy for everyone. In the morning, Andrew and Lauren headed off to the technical college for the last time to lecture in an Engineering Science class. That day they taught physics, specifically the topic of work and energy. Physics proved to be a much easier subject to teach than technical drawing (if you ever find yourself teaching a college level class in Tanzania, stick to subjects that are math based). The kids even asked for homework at the end of class (we could learn something from their enthusiasm about receiving homework). While Andrew and Lauren were teaching, Jennifer and Ian went to Amani’s and continued to work on the project. Andrew and Lauren then joined them at Amani’s in the afternoon. That afternoon, Ian and Lauren went with an Amani IT employee to local shops to look at monitors for the project. They looked at two different types of monitors, one with a computer integrated into the monitor and one that was just basically a TV screen. They decided that the monitor with the computer would be the most cost-effective option while also best serving the needs of the project. Once back at Amani’s, they shared what they had found and made a plan to buy the monitor in the upcoming days.
On Thursday and Friday, we continued working on the PowerPoint while also testing our graphic design skills. Thursday morning, we received some of the statistics and we were able to start finalizing some of the slides. We quickly learned that designing PowerPoint slides that are visually appealing is a lot easier said than done (keep in mind 3 of the 4 of us are engineering students so we really have no idea what shapes and colors look good together). On Friday after tea, Ian and Lauren headed back to the shop to buy the monitor. This proved to be a much bigger challenge than we had anticipated (we had never missed set prices so much in our lives, except for maybe when Ian ended up with his elephant shirt. See blog 1). The story of the price of the monitor is one for another day, but it was not our favorite Tanzanian experience to say the least. We did get the monitor though and brought it back to Amani’s to get to work on setting it up. Unfortunately, the IT employee only works half days on Friday so we weren’t able to get the PowerPoint software on the monitor but we are excited to see pictures of the working monitor when it is all up and running. After finalizing the initial version of the PowerPoint, we had a short goodbye ceremony with the kids and the staff of Amani.
During our final weekend in Tanzania, we learned how to make Tanzanian Guacamole (apparently Mexico isn’t the only country with amazing Guac) and Chipati (a Tanzanian bread), which proved to be much more challenging than we anticipated, as it took us almost two hours to make. Although after tasting our food, we all agreed that it was definitely worth this amount of effort, as well as some minor skin burns. We also visited Msamaria children’s center, where we gave at least twenty piggy back rides—each. After this visit, we then made it to the airport (surprisingly without losing any luggage) and said our final goodbyes to this amazing country.
Final Blooper Reel (and other humorous and slightly painful events)
1. It was fitting that our very last interaction with the kids at Amani was them pointing at our hand sanitizer bottles attached to our backpacks and asking, “What’s this?” (We got asked this question by anyone, of any age, and at anytime during this trip)
2. Ian died again, although this time it was Lauren’s fault (since she introduced all of us to a flu, which Ian couldn’t shake for the last two weeks of the trip)
3. When some of the children would try to talk to us in English, they would ask us, “My name is?”. It was very cute. Although to be fair, we probably made that exact same mistake when we tried to talk to them in Swahili.
4. We (intentionally) forgot to mention in the second blog that Lauren, Andrew, and their translator, Sadick, all technically hitch-hiked back to downtown Boma from Nkwamakuu Primary School during one of the days when busses weren’t running. (We chose to wait to disclose this blooper to not scare our parents. Sorry Mom and Dad.)
5. Apparently contact lenses are not only uncommon, but completely unheard of here. We learned this the hard way when Andrew started touching his eyeball to take out his contacts one day, which immediately caused mass confusion and concern from everyone at Nkwamakuu.
6. People in Tanzania still haven’t gotten painstakingly sick of those late 90’s boybands by now like the U.S. has, which is something we learned after listening to “Queen of my Heart” by Westlife for four entire hours on repeat while waiting at our favorite restaurant (and source of free wifi) in Boma.
7. The children LOVE touching the hair of wazungu (white foreigners), and will even rub their faces against our arms to feel our arm hair.
Finally, we would like to thank you all for taking the time to attempt to comprehend our incoherent blog posts each week. Our trip has been overall amazing and we feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend 5 weeks in Tanzania. We hope you enjoyed reading about our (mis)adventures and welcome you to make any comments you would like to share with us!
Asante sana na kwa heri!
(Thank you very much and goodbye!)
Hello and welcome back to Team Ghana’s Travel Blog. This week has been incredibly busy, so let’s jump right in! We started the week off running, meeting with the headmistress of the basic school at UENR about a possible summer youth program on Monday. Also, our phone call and check in with our fabulous leader, Mary Raber, went very well. The team departed from our hostel in Sunyani early Tuesday morning and arrived in Babianeha just two hours later after a minor mixup with our taxi driver. From there we were greeted by our friend and guide, Evans, along with his “brother” Solomon who runs the community center. The women’s health workshop we put on in both Babienaha and Badukrom went so well that in the latter we had to bring in additional seating due to how many girls wanted to join in! After two amazing (and exhausting) workshops Team Ghana went back to the Opuni household and took a lunch of fish stew in tomato sauce before heading back out to Badukrom where we met the chief. He and his son, nicknamed Sacrifice, told us the story of how the town was founded by a man who was running from french slavers and ended up in Ghana. The people of Babienaha ended up giving him a plot of land as well as a kingship, and his descendants still live in the town to this very day. After out interview with the chief we said our tearful goodbyes to the people of Babienaha and returned home.
After waking up so early to go to Babienaha, we thought our one meeting on Wednesday would be pretty easy and low intensity. It was not. We met with Charity, an african studies lecturer who was introduced to us by Dr. Asamoah at the University of Energy and Natural Resources. She lead us on a whirlwind talk, bouncing between different subjects like different Ghanaian customs or the English translations of some nearby villages, and even ended up introducing us to the people who ran the cultural center in Sunyani. While we got more than we bargained for, the team felt that the meeting was one of the most productive and thought provoking they had had thus far. Following the meeting, all who attended promptly took a nap for at least a couple hours. The following day, the boys became very ill but the girls continued to soldier on meeting with Dr. Phyllis Opare to discuss design thinking and STEM workshops. It turns out UENR already had a STEM fair in the spring semester but they were open to the idea of collaborating with us to do one in the summer! Sonja continued being awesome that night, frying up yams that we had bought in the market to make delicious yam fries which were heartily eaten by all.
On Friday we picked up the gorgeous hand-tailored Ghanaian outfits we had ordered the previous week. Everyone was super pleased with how their outfits looked, but less pleased on how they fit. Sonja even had to cut herself out of her dress with a pair of scissors and Lianne couldn’t even put hers on. Never fear though, they’ll be sent back to the tailor and all will be well. Additionally, we found out how to make dough for Buflot, a kind of Ghanaian donut. Nana, one our hosts, taught us along with her extended family. We’ll have to try making some when we get back to the states! On Saturday morning, we made the early trek to see the Buflot being fried, which was done in the kitchen on a charcoal oven. The Buflot themselves were too hot to eat there, and had to cool while we met with Prince Bonnah Marfo at the cultural center. At the cultural center we learned how the center uses the power of theatre to teach lessons and bring about social change through what was basically human centered design. They were also very excited about the village name project and were willing to turn the stories into radio plays or even ones on stage.
Sunday was our day of rest from our long, eventful week. We washed clothes, wrote in our journals and generally took stock before our long trip on Tuesday of the next week. It’s so odd to see how much of your life can fit into a couple bags, and it’s hard to believe that we’ve been here four weeks. Nana and Emmanuel also had us over for a Ghanaian feast at their home, with groundnut and tomato soups, fried chicken, plantains and yams, as well as egg salad and rice. It was some of the most delicious food we had eaten all month. Literally everything was cooked to perfection and every single plate was practically licked clean. In addition to eating amazing food, it was fun to see Emmanuel and Nanas family as well as just hanging out with them. We talked late into the night, talking about Michigan Tech, Russia and plans for the future, and we were all really sad to leave at the end of the night.
That’s all for this week, keep watching for next week’s report. We’ll be in Cape coast touring slave dungeons and hanging out on the beach!