My father, brother and my brother’s girlfriend, Kristen all came for a visit here in Cameroon. I arranged for a ride to and from the airport in a private car with a friend from Limbe. He is a Cameroonian and besides driving he helped get the family through customs as well. With just minor trouble getting through customs we were out of the airport and loading the baggage into the car. Unfortunately at this point the keys accidently got packed into the car as well. So after shutting the back hatch we realized we were locked out of the car.
After six months in Cameroon I am on vacation! I finished up my classes on Friday, December 11th and got on a bus to Yaoundé. I spent Friday and Saturday night hanging out with other volunteers in the Peace Corps transit house. I ate out at good restaurants and had fun.
Sunday a big group of us headed to our IST, which is more training. It took place in the coastal city of Kribi. Peace Corps put us up in a nice hotel right across the street from the beach. After being at post for four months it was quite a shock to stay at a nice beach resort; defiantly not what I expected in Peace Corps!
The training sessions at the beginning of the week were with out Cameroonian counterparts, going over problems we had, solutions and possible secondary projects. Later in the week the counterparts left and it was just the Peace Corps group. We went over joining different volunteer committees, had health sessions and extra AIDS education training.
Every evening after sessions we partied on the beach. Beach American football and Frisbee games were a nightly feature. We had a few bonfires and late night swims.
Saturday we said our goodbyes and headed back to our posts. I arrived back in Banganté on Sunday. There I continued moving into my house, cleaning and buying furniture. I am not completely moved in yet but once my furniture is done being made I am hoping it will feel like home.
The University starts up on the 4th so I will be relaxing and getting my house in order till then.
So I have not posted in a while, things have been busy here. I moved out of the dorm room into my new house slash apartment. I say that because it is a house, but it has been divided up into several apartments. It is very nice; I will get some pictures up as soon as I can find the data cable for my camera. I am still unpacking and everything is all over the place. So when things get arranged I’ll also post a video.
Classes are going well but preparing for class takes a lot of time, more that I had originally thought. The students are very smart they keep me on my toes with questions. We are almost at our holiday break. I will be spending some of it in training.
The training is for Peace Corps training and will be next week. However this time it will be in Kribi a city right on the ocean. I will be about a week and I am looking forward to being on the beach and seeing everyone from my training group again.
In addition to moving last weekend, I made a quick trip over to another volunteer’s post, to help her out with some HIV / AIDS training with kids. It went well but my group was kids from 8 to 13 and it had some awkward times, like showing them how to put condoms on. That is something that would not happen for that age group in the US. Though overall it was fun, and I hope we taught them some useful things.
Ok, I have to get back to work. A la prochaine!
It’s been a little while since my last post, here is what has been going on: This week I started teaching my two courses. They are object oriented programming in Java and new network technologies. I am teaching the two in English, the other professors recommended I do this for two reasons. First while I have learned quite a bit of French since I have been here, I am just slightly under what would be required to teach high level topics, perhaps next semester. And second, the university is very high on bilingualism and wants their students to be as close to fluent in both French and English as possible when they graduate.
My theory classes went well I used a video projector with my Macbook to show Power Point slides and real code examples. My practical lesson in the lab went fairly well even with the two brief power cuts causing all the students’ machines to restart. There is supposed to be a UPS for both labs to handle minor power interruptions but for some reason it is not working. However with my constant reminders to save their progress all the students finished the lab.
I also received my job duties for my stay here at UdM. Items include teaching classes, consulting on the structure of courses, managing labs, assisting students with projects, setting up campus WIFI, linking our two main campuses by wireless, setting up our new fiber internet line, developing a software package for managing the student hospital, grant writing for UdM and other small projects. I hope two years is enough for all that!
In other Peace Corp Cameroon news: the new trainees are here. I’ve been hanging out a bit with them after work and on the weekends. It is nice to have so many other Americans to hang out with, though I’m sure it is hurting my integration and language skills as I can converse in English quite often now. I am not worried though; they will be done with training and gone soon enough. There will be plenty of time for my cultural and linguistic integration then.
Other than that things have been pretty routine here. The next big thing for me will be IST in December where all the volunteers from my training group get together on the beach for more training sessions. Though I will be sure to write a few times before then, but for now take care!
Sorry it’s been so long since the last post but I’ve been busy. The big news for me is that the education trainees started teaching at the model school.
The Peace Corps model school is a sort of vacation school with kids from the local village signed up. Last week all the education trainees observed trainers and current volunteers. This week it’s our turn to teach, which was exciting and terrifying at the same time.
The IT volunteers are teaching mostly in French while the TEFL (English) and science volunteers teach in English. I am teaching four classes: Terminal, 3em, Form 5 and Form 3 & 4. Since Cameroon is a bilingual country the Form one through 5 are English classes based on the British system, while the others are based on the French education system.
My Terminal class is the equivalent to upper high school students and I have eight students in that class. The 3em class is middle school aged students and there are over 80 students in that class, which leads to quite a bit of class control problems. I teach both of these classes four times a week. The Form 5 and Form 3 and 4 combined I teach once a week and they range from upper high school to lower high school aged students respectively.
I will say that teaching IT in French is quite a challenge for me. I can plan my lessons out and have my language trainers look over it, but having the students ask questions, I most of the time, don’t understand and then coming up with a response on the spot is very challenging. However things are good, my French is improving and life in Cameroon is great.
So between lesson planning, language classes and all the other things I have to do I don’t have much time. However I still am having fun and enjoying my life here in Cameroon. Though I am missing my friends and family as well but I hope that many will come to visit!
Till next time…
There are two types of volunteers in my stage, or training session for those non-peace corps folk. There are education, ED and small enterprise development SED. The ED volunteers found out their post on Tuesday and are leaving for site visit tomorrow. Site visit is when a volunteer departs the training village and navigates the country to get to their port city or village. A bit of a scary concept, something that I will not experience as my post is here in the same village as training. Never the less my fellow ED volunteers will leave today or Sunday for their posts and I wish them well!
I in the mean time have very little to do. I need to go to the neighboring village and open my bank account and maybe do some shopping. I also might do a bit of travelling to stay with another volunteer. For me site visit is a bit anticlimactic. However I will be visiting the university to observe class and get a feel for the structure and operation.
SED volunteers get their post assignments next week and will do site visit the week after that. Just as the ED volunteers return. So our little group will be divided for the next couple of weeks. A bit sad but as Norm, one of the current volunteers says: “You didn’t come to Africa to hang out with a bunch of Americans.”
That’s about all the news I have for now, I’ll try to upload another video and some more photos soon.