Chil­dren at the Grace and Hope Orphanage attach them­selves to Dennis Miller’s arms, hands, legs, before he can set foot in their quaint one-​​building com­pound on the out­skirts of Kumasi, a city in southern cen­tral Ghana’s Ashanti region.

I get out of the taxi and the kids see me and come run­ning down a path screaming, ‘Uncle Bobo, Uncle Bobo,’ ” says Miller, a pro­fessor of music at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “Bobo” means, “Born on a Tuesday” in the Fante tra­di­tion. Fante are an ethnic group in the south­western coastal region of Ghana.

Six of them have my hands and six of them have my feet,” he says. “It’s amazing.”

Miller arrived in Kumasi, on the campus of Kwame Nkmurah Uni­ver­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nology, in late December, after being granted a semester-​​long sab­bat­ical. He helps orphans between the ages of 5 and 15 with their reading and math skills.

He keeps smiles on their faces by taking them on field trips and recording their after-​​school play on video.

I’ve seen the light and my path is clear,” Miller writes in a Feb. 4 blog entry. “The Grace and Hope Orphanage is the reason I’ve come to Ghana.”

The chil­dren live on a grassy patch of land just a few hun­dred yards from the school and they don’t have access to elec­tricity. But they fre­quently erupt in spon­ta­neous song. Miller cap­tures that on video, too.

My ini­tial moti­va­tion for the trip was and remains com­mu­nity ser­vice,” Miller adds over the phone from the West African country. “Vol­un­teering with kids is some­thing I enjoy immensely.”

But he doesn’t restrict his pas­sion for vol­un­teer work to helping children.

Miller also teaches a course on dig­ital media pro­duc­tion to roughly 100 pub­lishing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions design stu­dents at the uni­ver­sity. He out­fitted class­rooms with donated com­puters and dig­ital audio pro­grams and hopes to show his pupils a thing or two about scoring films and ana­lyzing abstract art — a con­cept that many of his stu­dents could not comprehend.

I showed them a five-​​minute abstract ani­ma­tion and they wanted to know what the artist wanted them to think,” he explains. “I said, ‘the artist doesn’t want you to think any­thing. It’s what you want to think.’ ”

He’s had a dif­fi­cult time adjusting to the cul­tural nuances of Ghana — it’s frowned upon, for example, to show someone the bottom of your shoe — as well as to the living con­di­tions. Water and elec­tricity are scarce, says Miller, and get­ting around the city can be hazardous.

It’s a struggle when it’s so hot that all you want to do is jump in the shower, but there’s no water,” he says, “or when you’re stuck in traffic behind an 18-​​wheeler spewing diesel fuel and you’re sur­rounded by grass fires.”

But the moment one of the orphanage’s young­sters lights up the room with a smile, or a stranger invites him into her home, or a crack of thunder sends shivers down his spine, Miller real­izes that it’s worth the struggle.

I’m glad to be here,” he says. “I’m here because I can’t expe­ri­ence this any­where else. It’s Africa.”