Celebrating Maxine Lartey, my Ghanaian buddy that got me through freshman year

Summary: When you are going through fire and you ask God for help, He won’t always drop manna from heaven to answer your prayers; sometimes, He will send people to support you. In fact, He might even plant them in your life long before you encounter the fire so that you can build a relationship before you need them.

Maxine. My Geyhey sister.

You know that feeling as an international student when you encounter someone from your country? That rush of excitement and sense of “I-know-you-get-me”? The one that is intensified when you discover that they are an upperclassman at your college? That’s how I felt when I found out that Maxine went to Wesley Girls’.

I felt like I had met someone who “truly understood” me. We may have had different experiences at GeyHey in different eras, but had walked the same corridors and had been taught by the same teachers.

Maxine did everything 😭

In early September of my freshman fall, I passively expressed to her how much I missed fufu and goat light soup but didn’t know where to find ingredients or if I would have time to cook. A few weeks later, she organized a Ghanaian get-together at WILG. She went all the way to Tropical Foods to acquire the ingredients and we had a fufu and goat light soup cookout :’) That was the first time I met some of the Ghanaian upperclassmen.

As winter drew nearer, I asked her about winter clothes because I admired her fashion sense and wanted some pointers on places to go. One Sunday after church, we went on a trip! We went from stores at the Cambridgeside Galleria, to stores at Downtown Crossing, to stores on Newbury Street.
“Wow, that looks REALLY good”, “Mm, that’s a no”, *smiles* “I think this looks good but remember that we are SHOPPING FOR WINTER NOT FOR FASHION” 😂 We spent about 8 hours together that day and ended our day with a meal at Halal Guys. Good times :’)

Maxine had a friend called Abir who made me laugh so hard. Abir was hilarious, friendly and easy to talk to. During Thanksgiving when campus got quiet, Abir drove the Ghanaian students to Anokyekrom, a Ghanaian restaurant in Worcester. It was a longggggg ride but it was so much fun. I still remember all the Ghanaian hits and throwbacks that we listened to and the laughs we shared.

Early in sophomore year, when my classes were GRINDING me, I texted Maxine. It’s not that I wasn’t working hard; I went to all office hours, spent long hours on my psets and was very disciplined. “Jessica, let’s go off campus. I’ll pick you up from McCormick.” We ended up taking a walk to Darwin’s and she got me a warm cup of hot chocolate. I spoke, and spoke, and spoke, and spoke. I spoke about my frustration, my exhaustion, my disappointment. Maxine listened; she was a good listener.

After my long rant, she assured me that everything would be okay. “Freshman year was manageable because you were familiar with some of the material. Sophomore year is challenging because you are presented with information that you are unfamiliar with. I know it’s hard but it will get better. God is on your side, so you cannot fail. The same God of yesterday is the same God of today.” As we walked back to campus, she shared tips and tricks on how to be more effective. She then took me around campus to show me good study spots.

When you are going through fire and you ask God for help, He won’t always drop manna from heaven to answer your prayers; sometimes He will send people. In fact, He might even plant them in your life long before you encounter the fire so that you can build a relationship with them. That way, they can walk with you through it all.

Maxine was one of those sent to bring fun, comfort and peace wrapped in a taste of home.

#YouCanDoItOnlyYouCanDoItYouCantDoItAlone

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I put together this series during the month leading up to my graduation from MIT. I took time daily to share anecdotes/lessons I had learned from faculty/staff/students/friends while at MIT.

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Jessie’s Journey

Jessie’s Journey

I’m an EECS MIT ’20 from Accra, Ghana. Here, I share my reflections and learnings based on my experiences.

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