Friday, November 30, 2012

Time Keeps Marching On

November came and went already. It is amazing how fast time has been going. I know this is partly due to the fact that I have been so busy with projects, which is my choice but it is better than the alternative of being a lazy bum. I am most happy about my computer classes. I know it seems laughable that I am teaching computers, but it is only the basic skills such as clicking a mouse or typing. We have recently begun EXCEL which is going swimmingly. Luckily it’s just in time because my school has switched to computerized report cards!!! This means that I know longer have to hand fill out the grades for 300 plus students.

In the beginning of November I went to Dschang or “the Paris of Cameroon”, in the West Region of Cameroon, known for its university, lake (with paddle boats!), being cold, and having no mosquitoes. Unfortunately the few mosquitoes that are there found me but paddling in a boat on a lake definitely made up for it. It is always interesting for me to see just how different parts of Cameroon are, especially living in the East, one of the least developed regions. It is always a stark contrast when I go to the Northwest or the West, the two most developed regions of Cameroon. I’m wondering what makes it that way? The dominate tribe in the West is the Bamileke. Theyare known to be hard workers and very successful, they generally own businesses and every single piece of land either has a house or is being farmed. Unlike the East where there are farms, but definitely not as prominent as in the West. I wonder if the NW and W are so developed because it is so much cooler, which makes it less hard to work. I can only speculate but it’s funny that a country of only 20 million people is so vastly different. Tangent aside, my time in Dschang was great, its always nice to get a feel for something different.

After Dschang I had to head back to Yaounde for my VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee) Meeting, where representatives from each region meet with Administration to exchange information and problems in their regions. After my meeting I took another trip to Bamenda, in the NW region, to make my own down to Ossing, Sean’s village. It was a relaxing time involving, homemade cheese (that I made) raviolis and a lot of studying for the GREs. Not a bad time in my opinion, other than the studying. I took the GREs the 17th of November in Yaounde, and before I took that I went to visit a crater lake in the West region in a town called Fombot. It was definitely an adventure because the motos took us to a lake that was definitely a resort, with a golf course! Not exactly the lake that we originally wanted, but it was interesting to see nonetheless. After some more negotiating we made it the intended lake, which was stunning and well worth the effort.

After seeing the lake I made my way back to Yaounde so that I could take the GRE. Let me just say that I don’t think I will be taking the GRE in a developing country again. We started 1.5 hours late, nothing unusual here, but I did fall asleep waiting to take the test. But we did eventually start the test. Well I might not have had as much time as I would have wanted to to study for the test, but at least I didn’t have to raise my hand when we first opened the test book to tell the proctor that I didn’t understand, like someone did in my classroom.

When I no longer had to worry about the GRE, the Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary in Cameroon was the 21st of November. There was a lot of preparation that needed to be done, but I think that it was highly successful. I worked with another volunteer to create a movie of clips and pictures of all of the volunteers in the East for our regional table. It turned out to be a really great event, even the first lady of Cameroon attended! I really think that this is an exciting time to be a Peace Corps volunteer. Last year we celebrated 50 years of the agency and this year was 50 years in Cameroon.

As of right now, my school year 1/3 done. It is amazing to me that I have been in Cameroon since June 2011. Even more so, I only have 6 months left. This has been a stunning and eye opening experience, it’s just interesting how fast time is flying.

Eric, Kim, and I at the 50th Anniversay celebration

Chantal Biya! The First Woman of Cameroon

Crate Lake in Fombot

Rachel, Eric, and I at the Crate Lake