Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Steep Learning Curve

I wanted to write a bit about the training and how impressed I am with the Peace Corps, so far. This morning we received our language interview result. I was placed in Intermediate Low. The system is based on the ACTFL guidelines, splitting into four major groups: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Superior. Within Novice, Intermediate and Advance, the levels are further broken into low, mid, and high. I was quite pleased with my placement. Trainees must reach the Intermediate Mid level for posts in Anglophone parts of the country and Intermediate High level for francophone posts. I absolutely want to have a francophone posts, and this means I only need to advance two more levels to meet the requirement. I have a feeling this language training will be so intense and amazing. We were issue FIVE French books today. I have never had five books for class of ANY kind. The language classes are broken into groups of 1-4 people. 1-4? There are 38 of us. That’s at least 10 groups; therefore 10 language trainers that Peace Corps had to hire. I am impressed on that measure alone.

After language, we had the first SED tech session. SED stands for Small Enterprise Development, the program that I was assigned as a volunteer. Like all other governmental agencies, there are so many acronyms in the Peace Corps world. I may type up a glossary for you frequent readers when I am really bored in the future. I am excited about all the things I will learn in my technical training sessions (27 in total!). The topic covered is really comprehensive, ranging from basic business principles in finance, marketing, accounting in the context of Cameroonian business culture, to the Peace Corps approach to development, microfinance organizations, etc. During training in Banganté, we will each be assigned to a local counterpart and have hands on experience in consulting a local business. So great!

Other aspects of training are more house-keeping related, covering many issues relating to healthy, safety, etc. Those are less exciting and something really common-sense. Tomorrow we head to our homestay families, and a new stage of adventure begins. My French is going to get SO GOOD. Imagine me 3 years from now in Paris, people will look at me funny because I will be this Asian person from the USA speaking Cameroonian French. Sweetness.

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