Recently, a friend of mine from Hope sent me a sweet note that asked a lot of questions about my semester so far. At the time I couldn’t really respond to all of her questions, but after thinking about it I decided that maybe it was time for a recap.
Favorite Food: Sauce d’Arachides which is basically a peanut sauce, but it’s different than what we call peanut sauce in the United States. You eat it with rice or fish or couscous. I’m hoping that maybe my homestay mom will teach me how to make it during independent study month.
Least Favorite Food: Baton de Manioc which is the root of the manioc plant. It has a really strange sticky outing and a tough rubbery inside. I’m not a fan, but I will eat manioc in other forms so my family seems to be okay if I opt of the baton.
Homestay Family: I’ve had two so far and they have been very different experiences. In one family I spent a lot of time reminding myself that I’m in a different culture and I need to adapt. The other family is a perfect fit and I’m hoping to live with them for my independent study month. But you can’t choose your family so why bother complaining or comparing. And even if there are bad days, the overall experience is definitely worth it so I wouldn’t have it any other way.
School: The SIT program has been great. I’ve heard some fascinating lectures, visited some really intriguing organizations (Peace Corps, US embassy, World Bank…), and had interesting discussions on the merits and faults of international development. Plus it’s almost time for independent study which is why I chose SIT in the first place. I’ll be studying elementary education in Cameroon and I’m pumped!
Biggest Challenge: Learning how to share. Everyone here shares everything! It’s just cultural, but it took me awhile to understand that sharing is initiated by the giver so even if no one is asking for things, you should be offering. If not, people think you’re stingy. My flashlight, mirror, and nail polish are family favorites, but sharing even goes so far to mean that my three year brother can eat off my plate. I’m still not quite used to that last piece, especially when the spoon returns to the plate with an excess amount of saliva.
Most Embarrassing Moment: One day I was eating dinner with my homestay family and a bunch of extended relatives. I had received a huge piece of meat (because I’m the guest) and was trying desperately to cut it with my spoon (the only eating utensil available at that occasion). After clanging my plate multiple times I looked up and realized that everyone was watching me. Eventually, one of the aunts leaned over and gave me a quick lesson on how to eat meat: pick it up with your hands and bite it.
What I Miss the Most from Home: Besides family and friends of course, I can’t wait to get back to a more balanced diet, safer driving habits, fast and reliable internet, The Gathering, being able to cross my legs (not culturally acceptable here), and a bed that does not have a mouse living underneath it!
What I Love about Cameroon: Street vendors (food and souvenirs!!), the birds that sing outside my window every morning, getting 8-9 hours of sleep every night, the fact that I’ll always be able to say “One time when I was in Africa…”, and a pace of life that has allowed me to be more present than ever before.
Hopefully that was enough to tide you over for a bit because by the time you read this I’ll be headed to the north province and I’m not sure what communication will be like. I’ll be spending two weeks in Ngaoundéré with my third homestay family in an area that is traditionally Muslim and very, very hot!
|Sunset in Yaoundé|