I am having such a good time, la la la la la…
Yes indeed. I am having such a good time that time is slipping right through my fingertips. It’s already middle of November; just a month until I reunite with fellow stagiaires at Kribi (the beach town)! I can’t wait! The girls and I are going to drink so much wine and have so much girl talk! However, the quick passage of time also marks the end of the stay for many of those fabulous French I’ve met recently. After all, life is about give and take; can’t have everything, n’est-ce pas?
The election back home happened exactly one week ago. This was the first presidential election that I could’ve voted since I didn’t become a US citizen until 2005. I fulfilled my citizen duty and voted absentee from the lost continent of Africa, but I don’t think my vote was lost. I spent election night with a few Americans, sitting in front of a 13-inch TV broadcasting CNN in fuzzy, black and white, sad state of reception. We couldn’t see very well, but we heard perfectly well. Due to the time differences, we stayed up all night watching the results rolled in and finally the victory of Barack Obama at 5am. I felt the excitement beamed around the globe despite being thousands of miles away from the US. This was verified the next day when I was in the market. Every person that saw me would yell “OBAMA!” I think the Cameroonians were just as excited, if not more so, than me. I’ve spent a good deal of time abroad since the last election, and I actually felt extremely proud to be an American that day. The result of all that American-ness made me extremely homesick. For the first time, I miss the USA. Before, I just miss “the real life”, but the few days after the election, I craved all things “American”.
So, what do I do to get rid of the homesickness? I spent the entire weekend with a bunch of French. Oh those French, how I love them so. Gary told me he’s sorry I have to hang out with so many French and in a language I don’t fully understand. But honestly, I love it. It really reminds me of the time when I first moved to the states where I was always the only Chinese, and didn’t fully comprehend English. There is something interesting about personalities that shine through, even when I don’t fully understand the conversations. Also, being constantly surrounded by French speaking people helps me improve the language immensely, even if I am only listening most of the time. This factor makes me feel less guilty hanging out with white people; at least I am learning something, and culture exchanges still exist. Did you know there is such thing as “Hollywood Chewing Gum?” The Frenchies thought it’s American, but I’ve never heard of it in my life…
The extended amount of time I’ve spent with this group of French has made me realized just how sheltered Americans are. My group of French friends is here for different period amount of time ranging from 6 months to 2 years. When I tell them about all the restriction and rules that the Peace Corps has imposed on us, they all couldn’t believe it. It made me felt like an overprotected child whose parents just won’t let go. Sure the rules and regulations are supposedly for my own good, for my own safety and security, blah blah blah. But when I am with a group of people my age, who are surviving just fine without all the restrictions. I begin to wonder, are these rules really for my own good? Or are they just pure bureaucracy - people with too much time at their cushy government jobs that need to write rules about nothing? Just a thought.
In other work-related news, I am actually rather busy now. Busy in the sense I don’t have endless hours of free time and I actually have work that I am putting off. Procrastination hasn’t been something I could’ve even done since May. It’s a nice feeling to know I have enough work to fill my time that I want to procrastinate. Old habits die hard.
I continue to teach at the primary school. Last week I delivered a water-filter for the school, using the donation I had received prior to getting the slash from up above (not God, just PC admin). My work is suppose to be sustainable, so I discussed with the principle her plan to raise money in the future to purchase yearly replacement filters. Et voilà, the kids now have drinking water at the school! Other projects I have in mind will now take much longer since I have to find funding the time-consuming way. Apparently it’s not okay to give me straight up cash, but if you want to send me books or supplies for the school, it’s okay? I don’t understand the logic, but that’s how it is. Talk to me if you are still interested in helping me out with projects! I will keep updating progress under the project tab of this blog!
Today, I went off on the teachers at the school. There are no more than 5 teachers that teach at this school, and most of the time when I arrived at the school at 12:30, I am the only one teaching until 2pm, when school is out. Last week, I requested to drop the youngest class that is in a poorly constructed classroom. Instead, I extended the time for the other two classes. Better quality than quantity. The reasons I dropped that class are a.) there is not a complete wall between the classrooms, much less sound-proofing and b.) the teacher for the class next door is NEVER there when I am teaching and the kids are rowdy and my throat hurts everyday after that class. Today, the same thing happened when I was teaching my last class in a nicely constructed classroom. The problem today is that it’s 5 minutes to 2pm and I am trying to finish my lesson. Kids from ALL the other classes are running loose and most are congregating outside my classroom being obnoxious. I attempted to tell the kids to leave, but I don’t have enough authoritative power. Finally, I went over to the office to find a teacher, and all the teachers were chilling there. I said, “What is going on? It’s not 2pm and there are students everywhere. I am trying to teach and I can’t!” I yelled this in their faces and left. Not two minutes later, the kids are gone and I was able to finish my lesson for the day.
The moral of the story: students aren’t the problem; teachers are.
In other business related projects, I started my consulting business in village weeks ago and today I had my first two clients after many told me they would come talk to me. This morning, I talked to a guy who raises livestock and would like to improve and expand its business. This afternoon, I talked to two guys who are in the business of growing Chinese mushrooms and would like me to work with their GIC. I know nothing about raising livestock and growing mushrooms, but I still somehow helped them both start a project plan and will be visiting their farms next week. Also, I now get free Chinese mushrooms. Quelle chance!
I tutored a neighbor girl English today. She’s in high school, so her level is much more advance than my students. In an hour, I think I learned more French than the English I taught her. I did, however, taught her the trick of changing a sentence into passive voice: find verb, take the direct object after the verb and put it in the front of the sentence, add the Be-verb, change original verb to its pass participle, add extra words/modifiers, add by, add subject.
The girl eats rice everyday. Becomes: Rice is eaten everyday by the girl.
I love learning language with logic. Juliete says I need to become a researcher with my love for such exact science. Now, only if I can teach logical thinking to all Cameroonians. One person at a time, I suppose.