Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ahlala! (Hello in the local language)

Wow, I have lived in Cameroon for over 7 months. I can’t believe how fast time is passing. Living here seems so normal now and I feel really comfortable in my village. I am planning on coming home to visit the States in June and that is going to be really weird. Going to grocery stores, riding in cars where I have my own seat, hot showers, washer and dryers, going to restaurants…I am so not used to it anymore. When I first arrived I used to miss those things but now I have adjusted to living without it and I don’t think about it as much. Only sometimes when I go to the market and they are out of eggs and I don’t have water for 2 days, then I think about America.
I went to this big celebration in my village this weekend. They were celebrating the life of this Italian woman, Chiara, who was the president of the Folkalarini which is a Catholic Italian organization who have donated a lot to this part of Cameroon (this area is called “Fontem”). They first came in the 1960’s and decided that they really wanted to help develop Fontem, so they came back and built a really nice hospital and Catholic school along with developing the roads and water supply. It is actually pretty amazing what they have done for this community. Chiara died in March, so to honor her Fontem had a huge funeral celebration. Most of the time funerals here are held long after the person actually died because of the all the preparations. There were a lot of speeches, traditional dances, food, and drinking. There were also a lot of Italians around for the celebration which was kind of strange when you aren’t used to seeing a lot of outsiders. It was a lot of fun and definitely an interesting thing to see.
I started back teaching last week after a much needed 3 weeks off for Christmas break. It started with In Service Training in Kribi with the other volunteers for a week, then I traveled to this village called Batie and spent Christmas with a few other volunteers. We made a delicious feast and just relaxed and it was wonderful. I spent New Year’s at post and that was also fun. I just hung out in the market with some of my Cameroonian friends, so it was definitely not a typical New Year’s in Austin but it was nice. Easing back into the old school schedule was relatively painless. I had 2 more practicals with my Lower and Upper Six classes. These are the highest 2 levels at the high school and the class sizes are smaller so the practicals went a little smoother. It is still hard though when not everyone can use their own computer. Most of these kids have never used a computer before, never. So they don’t know how to use a mouse or type and what they really need is a couple hours of practicing basic skills each week, but that just isn’t possible right now. Hopefully, by the time I leave I will be able to get some more computers for the school so the students can get more practice in.
Today in class I called on one of my students to answer a question and he got flustered and all of a sudden a small bird flew out of his pants. Apparently he was hiding it there because he wanted to bring it home with him. I told him take the bird outside and leave it there and he did…I thought. I was walking around the class later on and heard a squawking coming from his table. He had went outside and tried to hide it better inside his pants. I actually wanted to laugh at the absurdity of the situation but I held it in and sent him to the discipline master. Oh, Cameroon…