Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Civilisation Me Manques!

Things have really taken off ever since we returned from our site visits. Language classes and other training sessions continually occupy my days. But more importantly, I am spending all of my free time with fellow stageaires (trainees) before we all go on our separate ways in less than a month. I have really grown to love these people and have felt a real sense of family, especially within the SED group. There are only 15 of us out of the greater group, and I have a greater bond with these few whom I’ve known for 2 months than some friends from the past. When we left Philly, there were 38 of us, unfortunately, two from the education group had ETed and that leaves 36 of us. SED is still going strong, hurray!

This past week was somewhat rough. Being away for site visit made apparent the lack of freedom and many other inconveniences that accompany a homestay experience. Unable to cook for myself and 7pm curfews contribute to some of the frustrations. Also, the fact I was unlucky and placed in a family with no kids to communicate with has become a significant source of frustration as I am preparing for the final language interview.

As I had said before, some days are worse than others. There are days when I wake up and am annoyed with everything in my surrounding: the lingering stink of the bathroom, the dirtiness of my house, the lack of food variety, the ridiculous mud here, the language instructors, the technical sessions, and the constant rain. But despite all of that, I can’t think of a place I would rather be. That’s when I know I have made the right choice. A friend walked me home tonight and he said, “you know, when we go back to the states, we can ask people if they’ve lived abroad, but then we can ask if they’ve lived without civilization.” Civilization. That’s the word that I can best find to sum up all the things that are missing in my life here in Cameroon.

As one volunteer put it, Cameroon for the most part is just developed enough to be extremely frustrating. If I did live in the middle of nowhere, then the lack of modern conveniences would seem natural. But the things here are developed enough to remind you all the things that could be done better and are being done better elsewhere in the world. I find it absurd that my cell phone service is far more reliable than both the power and water supply. I miss lots of things from the “modern world”, and food is probably the most apparent factor. The nostalgic talks of “gosh, I can really go for a XYZ” among trainees have increased its frequency over the past few weeks. 

Many dear family and friends have sent care packages that are currently floating around in the world. Words can’t describe how anxious and excited I am to receive boxes of goodies. I’ve moved a few times in my life, and this is the first time where I have neither been able to find comforting foods/things or discover new comfort foods/things. In au village, there are so many things that money simply can’t buy. Thankfully, people all seem to be receiving their mail without problem, so any day now, and I will have a package wit h my name on it! Oh, we discovered that Amazing.com delivers to Cameroon! Since Amazon ships with insurance, it may be worth investigating!

Finally, Michelle wins the award for sending me the first piece of mail in Cameroon! Thanks, love! 

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