A plate of honey roasted chicken and joffof rice
Honey roasted chicken and jollof rice courtesy of Professor Ballah

During my first year at Conn, I took “Introduction to Film” and I noticed one of the students looked a little different than everybody else. This student was an older gentleman who was not registered as a student at Conn. He was actually a professor of film at a local community college. He decided to audit our class to learn more about film and improve his teaching skills. When our professor told us that this man was auditing the class I did not know what that meant so I did what most people would do, I looked it up. The Connecticut College website defines auditors as “special students or alumni of the College who attend the meetings of a course but receive no credit for such attendance. Students who wish to attend certain courses may do so as auditors by securing the approval of the instructor concerned.” There is also a section that states that regular undergraduates, like me, are not normally allowed to audit a class.

Although it is unusual for undergraduate students to audit a class, the decision is ultimately left to the professor teaching the course. A couple of my friends recommended I take a class with professor Henryatta Ballah, who is a professor of history at Conn. I decided to reach out to professor Ballah to ask if I could audit her class “Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Contemporary Africa.” Professor Ballah graciously allowed me to join her class without registering, and I can definitely say my semester would not have been the same without this course.

Every Thursday at 7 p.m. I head over to New London Hall (one of my favorite buildings on campus) to go to professor Ballah’s seminar class. As an auditor, I simply do the reading before each class and show up ready to learn. This has been a really interesting method of learning because never before have I been able to show up and learn without handing in assignments or taking tests. I found that it really reduced the stress of the experience. “Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Contemporary Africa” was a really interesting class and allowed me to expand my knowledge of continental Africa with a global, historical perspective. I also enjoyed the environment. Senior seminars tend to have energetic discussions so I never found my mind drifting during the two-hour class. The class ends at 9:45 p.m., a time I typically head back to my dorm to relax after my busiest day of classes. For one of our last classes of the semester, professors Ballah, who is from Liberia, kindly made us a dish that can be found in many West African countries: honey roasted chicken with jollof rice. The meal was delicious and made the classroom feel like a home. If you are not able to audit a class, I would certainly recommend taking any class with professor Ballah. Next semester I will be taking another class with her: “Youth and Social Movements.”. I am so excited to take this class not only because of the content but also because I feel like I have had the opportunity to create a meaningful connection with professor Ballah.