Monday, December 29, 2008

You know you're a PCV in Cameroon when...

1. "ça va" becomes a regular part of your vocabulary
2. You don’t even flinch when you walk out your front door and a family of goats is grazing in your front yard.
3. Riding motos from place to place has become your primary mode of transportation.
4. Sitting 8 people in a bush taxi is normal and only 3 people in the back just seems like a waste of space.
5. Trips to the Frip (an outdoor market that sells used clothes which is kind of a like a big thrift store outside) has taken the place of the mall.
6. Casino/ Score (a supermarket in Yaounde) seems like a little bit of heaven on earth because it sells ice cream, pizza, and cinnamon.
7. DVDs with only one movie on them seem bizarre.
8. Cold showers have become routine and even refreshing.
9. Laundry has many levels of “clean”.
10. You stare just as much as the other Cameroonians when you see another white person in your village.
11. You have a stack of books lined up to read in the corner of your living room…and you are actually going to read all of them.
12. Soya and a Castel seems like the perfect antidote to a stressful day.
13. Texting has become your primary way of communicating.
14. Time has become relative…if someone says they will be somewhere at 5, you know that usually means 5:30 or later.
15. You’re a little tanner after traveling in a bush taxi because your skin is covered in a thin layer of dirt from all the dust.
16. You laugh when you are baking and the recipe says to “preheat the oven” (…because you don’t have an oven and you bake everything in a huge pot with only one temperature – HOT).
17. A spaghetti omelet and a steaming cup of Nescafe with sweetened condensed milk is the breakfast of champions.
18. A functioning toilet is a thing of the past.
19. You have developed cravings for kola nuts and burning fish.
20. At least one of your meals each week is a pineapple.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Victory is mine!

Kind of… I had my first practical today with my Form 4 students. We finally got 4 out of our 5 computers to actually work at the same time. There was a problem with low voltage but we now have a cable running from a greater power source to the school so we can use the computers at the same time. The fifth computer’s monitor is broken, so I’m trying to get a new one soon so then we’ll have all 5 working! Anyways, there are about 60 kids in Form 4 so I broke them up into small groups of three and only took 12 kids to the lab at a time. Each group got about 20 minutes on the computer because I had the class for 2 hours. Things went…ok. For a lot of them this was their first time using a computer so it took awhile for them to get the hand of moving the mouse and such. For half of the lesson I just told them to identify the different parts of a computer and point out the different parts of the desktop that I called out so they would become familiar with everything. Then their big task was to move an icon on the desktop. This was harder for them than it sounds and it took a little while for most people. So, there is still a lot of work to do but things are finally moving along.

So my cat I got during training died pretty soon after I arrived at post after it got in a fight and the wounds got infected. I was pretty sad about it and my Cameroonian friends said they would be on the lookout for another cat. I wasn’t really sure I wanted another cat and I didn’t actually think they were going to look for a cat for me, so my expectations were pretty low. Anyways, yesterday I was taking a nap and heard some knocking on my door and I groggily woke up and answered it. One of my students was standing there with a market bag and he said he had a cat for me. At first I wasn’t sure what he was saying but then he opened the bag and there was a tiny little kitten inside. Apparently he heard that my cat died and knew of a kitten in a small village nearby so he trekked for 2 hours to go get it for me. It was so nice and unexpected and reminded why I love living here so much. People just go out of their way to help you and make you feel at home. So, now I have a new kitten and I named him Milo. He is really cute and already litter box trained (I think 2 days might be a record).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cultural Explorations

One of my colleagues is getting married in Bamenda in a few weeks and that prompted a discussion of marriage in Cameroon between myself and the other teachers. I asked what the average age was that people get married here in Lewoh and found that most women get married by the time they are 18 and for men by 22 or 24. These are actually relatively old ages by Cameroonian standards where in some places it is normal for a 14 year old girl to be married, but compared to America it is still pretty young. Polygamy also still exists here, although it is becoming more rare. Usually only the chiefs and more well off families have multiple wives because obviously, it is more expensive to have a very large family. My host family in Bangangte were polygamists (my host dad was a chief) and there were two wives. The wives lived in 2 separate houses and all together there were 11 kids. It seemed to work for them and the wives appeared to get along just fine. This is not always the case though and I have heard many stories about the wives trying to poison each other or get together and try to poison the husband. However, like I said, polygamy is becoming less popular and more frowned upon. Before a couple gets married, they have to sign a document saying they either plan to be polygamists or promise to just be faithful to each other. I think the purpose of this is to promote discussion of polygamy between the couple before a marriage takes place so there aren’t any surprises after they are married. Naturally, our discussion of marriage also led to a discussion of divorce. Divorce is VERY rare here and the rate is very low. I asked if they could tell me if there are any situations in which a couple would get divorced and I received an interesting response. One of my male colleagues said that some couples get divorced if the wife puts a charm (spell) over the husband and gets him to do everything for her like make dinner, go to the market, do the housework, take care of the kids. Of course if the man starts doing these things he must be the victim of some type of sorcery and the woman is trying to control him. My response to this was, well what if the man just sees how much work the woman is doing and wants to help her out? I was answered with laughter. Anyways, it was a very enlightening day.
So, last week I experienced my first Thanksgiving living outside of the US and it was definitely sad and weird to not be with family eating turkey, but us Peace Corps volunteers know how to make do pretty well. A few volunteers met in a town called Foumbot and made up a truly delicious Thanksgiving feast from scratch. We ate green bean casserole, pineapple casserole, mashed potatoes, creamed onions, chicken (turkey was unavailable), and a wannabe apple pie. I was in charge of the apple pie and making it from scratch is definitely not easy. It ended up coming out something like a cobbler, crumb cake, stroudel of some sort…but it was still tasty. All and all, I felt stuffed and didn’t want to move after dinner so I think that means it was a successful Thanksgiving.
In Service Training (IST) is just around the corner and I can’t wait! All of the volunteers meet in this beach town named Kribi with our counterparts and we have conferences and more training sessions…but we also get to see all the other volunteers again and go to the beach. I am so pumped! It will be great to get a little break from teaching and to see friends again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I dream of cheese

I had a dream last night I went to the grocery store and bought swiss cheese and Ben and Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide ice cream, then I woke up and realized I was still in Africa and there aren’t any grocery stores that sell Ben and Jerry’s… When I first arrived here, I had cravings for American food ALL the time. Chuy’s Tex Mex enchiladas, peanut butter, hamburgers, bbq sauce, pretty much all dairy food, I thought about it all the time. However, the longer I am here, the less cravings I have for American food. Now that I have been here for awhile, I have found some local food that I really enjoy. One of my favorite meals is beans and beignets. Beignets are these little dough balls that kind of taste like a mix between a donut and a funnel cake. The Mamis (older ladies) make them in the morning by frying them over a fire in a huge pan filled with palm oil. You then place hot beans over the hot beignets. I never really thought of beans as a staple breakfast food, but now I can’t think of breakfast without them. Mmm, beans and good. Other than that, I eat a lot of rice with various sauces, koki (kind of like a blob of ground up corn), cassava (this is a kind of plant), and burning fish (a whole fresh fish that is grilled over hot coals – I eat the skin and have tried the eyes, but they are kind of chewy and not great). I also eat a lot of eggs in various forms. There is the spaghetti omelette which is basically what it sounds like, cooked spaghetti noodles are added to the scrambled egg mixture in a bowl along with tomatoes and onions and then the whole mixture is fried in a pan. This is something else that sounded weird at first but now is just normal. I also fry or hard boil the eggs or make French toast. I also eat a lot of peanuts (they call them “groundnuts” here) either roasted or boiled – great to bring on long trips. I am lucky to live in the Southwest province because we also have a lot of fresh fruit. I eat a lot of papayas, oranges, and pineapples. Sometimes the fruit is hard to find if it is not a market day but the village is beginning to catch on that I love fruit and they leave me a cadeaux (gift) once in awhile. I will wake up to find a sack of oranges on my door knob or a bag of papayas on the porch. I was walking home from school yesterday and one of my friends told me he had something for me and went to his garden and he chopped off a pineapple fresh from the vine and gave it to me. So, yes, it is true they don’t have Ben and Jerry’s here but there are lots of other things and I am doing alright.
I am starting to give my second round of tests for the second sequence. When I gave the first tests, I wrote the questions on the board and they wrote down their answers on their own paper. I didn’t want them to start before I could turn around and monitor them, so I wrote most of the question but left out keywords so they couldn’t start before I wanted them to and cheat while I my back was turned to the board. Right before I had them begin, I filled in the keywords to the questions. Despite my best efforts, there was still widespread cheating. Kids were blatantly looking at each other’s papers and whispering. With a class of 94 students and 3 students to a desk, I just couldn’t monitor everyone at the same time. I did send some people out and take off points of the people I saw, but there were still some I didn’t catch. So, this time I decided I would make photocopies of the test and make different forms of it. This is pretty expensive and I have to go to a different town to make the copies but I decided it was worth it so I wouldn’t have to worry as much about cheating. Hopefully testing will go smoother this time…I’ll keep you updated.
There are many things that I am doing here that I didn’t anticipate having to do before I left. One of these things is drawing diagrams of dozens of different organisms on the board. The syllabus for my Form 2 Biology class (set by the ministry of secondary education according to which information they will include on the GCE – a standardized test they will take in Form 5) instructs me to teach basically a series of different animals. Most of the students don’t have a textbook, so the notes they take from the board are really their only source of information. So, I have to draw the diagrams of the organisms on the board so they have it for their notes. I started the year off with arthropods and so far I have become an expert at drawing a mosquito, housefly, honeybee, cockroach, spider, scorpion, centipede, millipede, crayfish and a crab. Now, these are not simple organisms to draw but I practiced and now I can draw a pretty decent arthropod with a piece of chalk and a board. Negotiating is also something I have to do ALL the time that I did not anticipate. Almost nothing in Cameroon has a set price, you have to bargain for everything. I bargain for the food I get in the market, how much I will pay for a moto ride, all the stuff I bought for my house, my cat – everything. So, I have learned to argue and get the right price. It’s all about not letting them know you want something…just walk away like you don’t have to have it and they automatically drop their price.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Life in Lewoh

I have now been at post for about 2 and a half months. A lot has been going on and I have been busy teaching and meeting people in the village. I am now teaching Biology to Forms 1 and 2 and teaching Computer Studies to Forms 3 to Upper Sixth, so basically I teach every student at the high school either Biology or Computers. My Forms 1 and 2 are pretty huge, about 90 students in each class but the other classes aren’t as bad…only about 50 – 60 students. My biggest challenge so far has been disciplining such large classes. I have a few techniques: the stare down until they realize I am looking at them disturbing and finally stop, making the class sit in silence before I let them go at the end of the period, giving a speech about respect (this is the least effective), or sending them out of class or to the discipline master. I used to not want to send them out because they would miss the lesson and get behind and would have to do manual labor from the discipline master, but the more they disrupt the class, the less sympathy I have for them. I am getting better at controlling the class and now that they know I will send them out if I have to, they are behaving better (sort of…).
The other problem has been the lack of computers. We received 5 new computers a few weeks ago BUT we don’t have a power source big enough for all 5 to work at the same time. So, I still haven’t been able to have practicals. Even if all 5 computers did work, with such large classes, practicals are still going to be difficult. My plan right now is to divide them into small groups and take turns using the computer they are assigned to within these groups…I really have no idea how this is going to work out but it is the best we can do with little resources and so many people. I would like to start working on a project to get more computers and Internet. There is no Internet in my village right now, so if anyone wants to get online, the nearest internet café is a 30 minute moto ride away in Menji. This is expensive for most people and so they do not go and have never used the Internet and don’t really know what it is. It is going to be a long process to make this happen – I will need to first of all find a space and a power source to store the computers and make them all run, then find the funds to buy more computers and the devices needed for Internet capability. There are ways to do this and I will look into it…I’ll keep you posted.
Other than teaching, I have been meeting a lot of people in the community and attending various events around the village. I have been to 2 funerals so far. Funerals here are a big deal and everyone in the village attends them. There is lots of food, music, and dancing…it is really more of a big party than a somber event. They always kill a pig and cook it and there is always lots of fufu (my favorite…). The pork meat is actually really delicious and I like eating it whenever I can get it. There are specific dances that people do and I’ve asked what the meaning is behind them but no one has given me a very clear answer besides “oh, this is just a dance that is done at funerals.” During these dances, there are sometimes people dressed up in costumes. One of the costumes is made from shreds of bamboo trees and when the guy is dressed up in it, he kind of looks like Chewbaca. He dances around with this big pole for about 5 minutes then goes on his way, only to reappear again every couple of dances. There are also some people that wear huge masks made from wood that dance around. The last funeral I went to, I got to sit with the chiefs and they all say I am a chief now so I guess I am rising up in society, haha.
It is kind of strange not being in America right now. First, not being in America during the election was a little heartbreaking. I wish I could have been there when everyone found out Obama was our new president. (I found out by myself late during the night through text message…not very exciting) Although, everyone here knows of him and were really happy that he won. One of the other teachers at the high school even has an Obama watch which he loves to show me. Also with the holidays coming up, it is strange to not be with family and friends. Halloween was pretty uneventful. No one here knows of it and when I described that on that day kids dress up in costumes and go around to people’s houses asking for candy, they looked at me like I was crazy. Then comes Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those are definitely going to be different. Christmas should be fun because it will be after In Service Training and I will hopefully be able to see a lot of other volunteers. I am just going to miss the pumpkin pie, Christmas lights and eggnog…

I am going to end this post with a series of awkward moments I have experienced in Cameroon:
1) Accidentally locking myself in the classroom with the students – I closed the door because the class next door was being too loud and didn’t realized that it would lock after I did that and I didn’t have a key. So, naturally a few kids maneuvered the lock with their machetes and opened it after about 5 minutes of unstoppable laughter and excitement.
2) Having freckles – One of my fellow teachers looked at my arm with a concerned expression and asked if I was having an allergic reaction to the climate here…
3) How do you feel about marrying a Cameroonian? – I get asked this question a minimum of 3 times a week.
4) My veterinarian storing the medicine for my cat in the base of a banana tree to keep it cool because I don’t have a fridge.
(P.S. My cat got into a fight and then the wounds got infected and she hung on for about a week, but then passed away…R.I.P Lola)
5) Bargaining with sweet (not) old ladies at the market who are trying to charge me 500 CFA for a pineapple when it should only be 200 because they don’t think I know how much they cost. I’m getting quite good at negotiating…
6) The old man who keeps coming to my door and asking for money to buy whiskey sachets.
7) Whenever a student asks to go ease themselves. (This is how they ask to go to the bathroom…but there isn’t a bathroom)

Love and miss all of you beaucoup!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I am a Peace Corps Volunteer

I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer! All of the trainees swore in as volunteers on August 22nd in Bangangté. The swearing – in ceremony was in the center of town and all of our host families attended as well as chiefs from other villages, the Mayor of Bangangté, the PC country director (James Ham), and all the training staff. It was quite an event, even the American Boy Scouts from the Embassy came to present the flags. All of the trainees introduced ourselves in the language of our choice (I chose Francais) and then we all recited the swearing-in pledge as a group. After the ceremony was over, we enjoyed a tasty lunch with our host families and the other new volunteers at a restaurant in town. After this I raced home to pack before the staff came to pick up our trunks and baggage from our houses to load onto the different vans. It was really surreal to be packing up all my stuff and to see my room looking so empty. When I first arrived to training in June, I thought it was never going to end but somewhere along the way time started going at lightening speed and I feel like I just blinked and now it is over. To celebrate (and because now that we are volunteers we don’t have curview), a group of us went dancing at a night club in Bangangté. It was a lot of fun and a good way to end our time in training and say goodbye to friends.
The next day, early in the morning, we were off to our posts. I headed off with the Southwest group to Dschang, the closest big city to Lewoh. It took about 2 hours to get to Dschang from Bangangté and another hour and half to get from Dschang to Lewoh. This ride usually is not that bad but this time I was traveling with a massive amount of baggage and my cat (oh…did I mention I bought a kitten a few weeks ago? At first I thought it was a girl and named it Lola but then I found out it is a boy. I decided to keep the name because in the song about Lola, the person is a transvestite and you never quite know if they are male or female…so it kind of fits my situation.) Anyway, I do not recommend traveling in bush taxis with a cat. It turns out they are not too fond of moving vehicles. I fashioned a crude cat leash out of pagne (scraps of fabric) and that actually worked pretty well in between cars when we got out in the different towns, but Lola was absolutely horrible at sitting in the car. Cameroonians already think it is weird that I pet my cat and give it a name but to put a leash on it and bring it inside the bush taxi with me sitting on my lap…let’s just say there was a lot of staring. Well, I finally arrived in Lewoh and Brad (the closest volunteer to me who lives 30 minutes away in Menji) and the my counterpart, the “Chief”, helped me carry all of my stuff up this mountain to my house. The Chief is an older man in his sixties but he raced up that mountain with half of my stuff like nobody’s business leaving Brad and I in his dust. It was ridiculous… hopefully by the time I leave here I will be able to get up the mountain that fast. We finally got my stuff to the house and then went to the only “restaurant” in town for lunch. It only serves one type of food a day and that day it was my least favorite meal of all time – fufu and porcupine. Fufu is this white gelatine looking substance that is made from corn. It basically has no taste and you eat it with your hands and dip it in a soup- like dish. I have given it a good try…believe me I have. My host family gave it to me all the time and I even helped make it once. It is very prominent in the Southwest and the Cameroonians love it and so it would be so much more convenient if I liked it, but I just don’t. It doesn’t have any taste (except maybe sour swiss cheese…) and doesn’t have any nutritional value. I like porcupine mildly better but I’m still a little bit leary of raging on any kind of bush meat. So, my first meal in Lewoh was not the greatest but I had high hopes for the future meals I would make myself with my gas stove.
So, over the next few days I cleaned my beyond disgusting house and unpacked. The former volunteer (Jesse) left over a year ago and no one had been in the house since so it was really dirty and full of creepy crawly friends. There was even a dead lizard in my sink (don’t worry…I took a picture to capture the moment). I went to Dschang to purchase some essentials and some things to make the house a little more homey – a stove, gas can, kitchen supplies, sheets, some rugs, etc. It is looking a lot better now and I am getting used to it, although at night it is still really creepy because there is not a lot of light and I kind of feel like I live in a garage because the floors are all cement. My dad will be proud that I successfully hooked up my stove and fixed my toilet that wouldn’t flush all by myself…it was bound to happen that some of that engineering would rub off. Everyone in the town has been really nice and inviting, they all say “you are welcome, you are welcome” whenever I meet a new person. Although the little kids just yell “White man! White man!” whenever I walk by. I am the only white person in the town and I guess I’m kind of spectacle whenever I walk into town. It is getting better as I meet people and the village gets used to seeing me around and it is not so new anymore. I am not the first volunteer to have come here…Jesse was here for 2 years a year ago before me. I like to call him “the ghost of Jesse” because I have never met him but I hear all of these crazy stories about. The Lewoh-ans loved him because he could speak Pidgin and their native language fluently, they even made him a noble in the town. Let’s just say, I have a lot to live up to.
I am almost finished with my first week of real Cameroonian teaching. I am teaching 10 hours of Computer Sciences to all different levels and 3 hours of Biology to Form 2 (~ 11 yrs old but some are older because they are behind). I really did not want to teach Computers because I came here as a Science teacher, but the school really needed a computer teacher and no one else had experience with computers. They are getting 5 computers mid-September (theoretically), so hopefully the students will be able to get a little practical experience. The office JUST got their first computer the same week I moved in and I helped them install the printer. They just thought I was amazing after I got it working and were so happy I was here. That made me feel good and useful but honestly…I’m a little nervous about teaching computers to hundreds of students with only 5 computers (that haven’t even arrived yet). Every student is not going to get a lot of time on the computers because there are just too many students and too little resources. I mean there is only so far you can go with a chalk and chalkboard talking about computers. It would make things so much easier if they could see what I was talking about as I was explaining…but alas, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got. My Biology class is enormous and growing everyday. Right now there are about 60 kids and it is only the first week (as the weeks go by, more and more students start to come back to school but right now a lot of them are still working on the farms). Because it is a big class, they disturb a lot and I am trying to work on my mean teacher attitude but let’s face it – I’m just not very intimidating. I haven’t had to send anyone out of class yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. The schedule for this first week was really disorganized…there basically wasn’t a schedule and they just said to go to any one of the classes and teach and when you are finished, find another class to teach. It was ridiculous. Hopefully next week will be better when they have finished the time table. I’m not really sure why they can’t do the time table before school starts. I think it’s because all the teachers aren’t here so they don’t know what subjects they have teachers for and such. They really need to enforce that the teachers need to be here before the first day of school so that the time table can be finished and a schedule can be made before the first day of school. This is the way they have done it for years and years and I guess the staff is just used to the chaos on the first week.
Anyways, I have been at post for a little over 2 weeks and I have never felt more like I was on an emotional rollercoaster. Some days I am so completely happy I am here and totally taken aback by the beauty of this country and other days I can’t believe I agreed to live in Africa for 2 years. Living alone has definitely been a hard adjustment. I have always had roommates, I have never truly lived alone before and it is very different. After every little noise at night, I think someone is breaking in and I am not sleeping very well yet. I like cooking for myself but I don’t like not always having someone to share a meal with. I’m sure it will get better once I make some good friends in the village but right now it is very strange. Living alone in Africa does leave you with a lot of free time though. I have been reading a lot and going on little hikes…that part I really enjoy. I also see some projects on the horizon that I want to get involved in. After I get settled in more and actually feel like I am living here, I think the rollercoaster will become less bumpy.

Well, I’m off to wash my laundry out of a bucket. I love all of you and miss you!


PS: I will try to be better about updating this thing now that I have more time…

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Site Visit/ Teaching

Im sorry I havent written in awhile...oops... Anyways, there has been a lot going on.

First of all, last week we went on our site visits to see where we will be living for the next 2 years. I am posted in the Southwest province in this little village called Lewoh and I absolutely looove it. It is really tiny and there is only one small market and no internet but it is BEAUTIFUL. I have a really nice house that has electricity and running water, the hospital is right across the street and the doctor is my next door neighbor. The people there are also really nice and speak english so it will be easy to get to know people hopefully...although you have to change the way you speak english in anglophone provinces. You have to talk really slowly and annunciate your words, we call it our "special english", haha. They also speak pidgin which is basically really messed up and simple english and it is sooo much fun to speak. I am now taking pidgin classes because I have reached my level in french. One sentence I actually learned in class was "My big papa gets three women dem" which means my grandfather has three wives. Also "A be women for America" means I am from America. Fun, n'est pas?

So, after we got back, Model School started which is basically a summer school put on by Peace Corps so that trainees can practice teaching. The first week we just observed other volunteers and Cameroonian teachers and made up our lesson plans. Then, this week, we started teaching ourselves. I am teaching 2 biology classes and one information technology class (IT) and so my total workload is 10 hours of teaching each week. The first day I was TERRIFIED but now it is not so bad. My IT class is really a combination of 2 classes and they are horrendous but I have each of the classes separately for biology and then they arent so bad. I really like teaching and everything has been going pretty well so far. All of the students call me Madam Connie and stand up when I enter the room... its pretty fun.

Only 1 more month of training and then I will officially be a volunteer!

Monday, June 9, 2008

I am FINALLY in Africa

Bonjour from Africa!

I arrived in Yaounde (the capital of Cameroon) on Saturday night after a looooooong 18 hour flight. We had a nice dinner in the hotel with the whole group and met the Peace Corps Director of Cameroon and our teachers for Pre-Service Training. On Sunday we explored the city a little bit. This experience only reinforced the fact that I am horrible at French and survive only by speaking Frenish (a combination of French and Spanish...). I can't wait to learn more French and actually be able to have conversations with Cameroonians.

On Sunday night, we went to the Country Director's house for dinner. We got to meet the Ambassador of Cameroon as well as other Peace Corps officials. Everyone was amazing and very inviting. Today we had our Language Placement tests and let me just say...there were a lot of pauses and I tripped out of my chair as I stood up to leave...that should give you an idea of how things went.

I absolutely love it here right now and am having an amazing time. Although, as our medical packet said today, this is Stage 1 and you are filled with euphoria and unrealisitc expectations. Stage 2 follows shortly and is definitely not so happy...but I'm not there yet so I will just say I am still in Stage 1.

I will write more later...people are waiting for the computer.

I miss everyone!! Write when you can!

Love from l'Afrique,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm leaving tomorrow!

Hi everyone!

I finally created the blog I kept telling you I was going to make. A lot of you asked me how to stay in touch while I am away, and I think this will be the best way for you to keep up with what is going on. In the past I have been horrible about keeping up with a journal, but I promise I will really try to update this as often as I can! I hope all of you will also keep me updated with all that is happening in your lives! My new email is: So, please write and let me know how you are doing!

Well, I leave for Philadelphia early tomorrow morning and will be there for 2 days. Then I will be going to Cameroon with all the other Peace Corps volunteers on June 6th! I still have some packing to do, so I will have to write more later. Ahh! I can't believe the time has come already...I am so excited!

Oh...and I love getting snail mail as well, so here is my address in Cameroon (for the first 3 months at least)

Connie Bogard
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 215
Yaoundé, Cameroon