Saturday, May 7, 2011

And the Moral of the Story is...

As a pre-service teacher I can say things like “the world is your classroom” because it’s true, even if the phrase is cheesy. My semester in Cameroon has ranged from ordinary daily living to extraordinary scholastic opportunities, but there’s been hardly a moment when I haven’t been learning something. I won’t keep it to myself so here’s a top ten list of Lessons Learned in Cameroon:

10) No matter where I go in life, there will always be room in my suitcase for a jar of peanut butter.
It takes time, perseverance, and pure skill to get a peanut butter jar this clean.

9) Getting the rabies shot wouldn’t have been a waste of money.

8) Being called beautiful over and over isn’t even flattering when it doesn’t come from someone who matters.

7) Sometimes a hole to squat over is actually preferable to a toilet.
My own bathroom in Ngaoundéré!
6) Dial-up internet does still exist and it makes Hope College wireless seem lightning fast (shocking I know).

5) Achieving a true clean feeling after a bucket shower takes practice.

4) The sky is the same all around the world so looking straight up can be a great reminder of home when everything on the ground feels strange and unfamiliar.
Simply Awesome.

3) Just because it’s red doesn’t mean it’s tomato. Unknown sauces should always be sampled or you could end up with spaghetti doused in pimante.

2) It is possible for a homestay family to become just plain family.
One of my most treasured photos of the whole semester.

1) So much of what I thought I knew before coming here was derived from stereotypes about an entire continent being full of starving children and thatched roof huts. After a semester I know that’s not true, but I also know that I can’t replace that false image with a better one because the reality is that it’s  impossible to squeeze a country, a semester, let alone a continent into one picture. I don’t appreciate stereotypes like all Americans are rich white cowboys, so I won’t generalize about Cameroon.

 If you want to know what I found here besides starving kids and rural villages, let’s have lunch and I’ll tell you the whole story.  (And I’m not kidding about lunch.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Last Days in Dschang

So where did the last fourteen weeks go? As I’m writing this I only have 11 days left in Cameroon, and by the time I actually post it there will be even less. As the time gets shorter I keep trying to fit as much in as possible. Here’s what happened with my last few days in Dschang.

I spent two mornings with some of my favorite people, preschoolers! It might sound silly, but I had a great time visiting the nursery school where my host mom teaches. The kids were adorable and now I can sing Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes in French.

I also had a chance to visit an artisanat staffed by blind people. See the entire living room set in the photo below, the person who made it did everything by touch. Pretty cool, but my suitcase is not big enough for that. 

Oh yeah, there was that huge, gigantic, monstrous paper looming over me for awhile. Three cheers for finishing that!! Hip Hip Hooray!! Hip Hip Hooray!! Hip Hip Hooray!!

When I finally found 5 ½ hours of spare time, I decided to get retressed. The braids are back and the plan is that they will stay until I can sleep in my own bed again. 
Me and the girl who did the braids.
Tomorrow I take the bus back to Yaoundé and the next week is spent wrapping up the program: final presentations, language proficiency exit exams, goodbye party, etc. In some ways this semester has flown by, but I feel like I’ve made the most of it. I’m coming home with a suitcase full of souvenirs, 1400 photos, and no regrets. With only a few days remaining, I will cherish every second I have left here, but when it’s time to board the plane I’ll be ready for that too.