Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Something Positive

Okay, so I realize there have been a lot of negative energy lately. I'm hitting the 6-months post-graduation, post-vacation-mode, crisis. The 6 months before graduation went something like this: wake up at 7am, depending on the days, I would have classes until noon-ish, go to manage money for rich people or help StudioSTL win $35,000 or volunteer for refugee children in the city until around 8pm, then I take a dinner break, usually with friends to kill two birds with one stone, and then nurse myself at the library until I get kicked out at 2am. Go home, sleep, repeat. Fun times were had during the weekends, but most daylight hours were also at the library doing ridiculous things like work on my part of the $1 million dollar university endownment or reading law cases and solving it with strange economic theoroems.

I took finals, I graduatd, I hopped on a plane with the family for vacation, hopped back, watched my sister graduate, had a party, and within less than three weeks, I was off to Africa. The three months of training were structured, busy, fun, and mostly pressure-free. I needed that break. First three months at post were exciting, scary, and also fun with meeting new people and getting used to this exotic new place that's suppose to become my home over the next two years. Since I began college, I haven't done anything continuously for 6 months at a time, much less two years. I suppose you can say, I have a commitment issue. And this is my time to prove it wrong and/or correct that issue.

Now, I am off vacation mode and I feel like I need to go back to a life of ridiculous schedule. It doesn't seem right that my life is not run by caffeine and I wake up naturally everyday before my alarm goes off. I suppose over the years I have linked productivity with that hectic, frenzy state of being. What has modern life turned us into? How can I look my fellow simple-living villagers and think, "I must help you improve your life"? They are happy selling their bags of beans and whatnot. They don't need therapists or Xanax. The global financial crisis does not concern them. Why would I change things for them? Why would I want to help them make a sick sum of money so they can have their entire retirement tied up in future derivatives and other asset-backed securities that have failed in modern finance? The sad thing is, I think many people right now don't have a clue why their retirement portfolio is crashing, or why they can't find a job to save themselves. They say, "it's the financial crisis" but have no real understanding of what that means.

Sometimes I wonder if staying at the bottom tiers of Maslows's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid is really that terrible of a thing...

I am teaching a groups of 15 kids in my CM2 class the Star-Spangled Banner for the Bilingual Day where they compete with the other primary school in town. They have to do a song, a poem and a skit. I had a genius idea that they can sing the Cameroonian and US National Anthem in English. Talk about culture exchange. The kids are excited to be in this exclusive group and there is nothing funnier than hearing kids running around the village singing, "oh say can you see..." Originally, I was going to teach the same group of students an funny English poem about homework, but today a girl almost cried because I cut off the singing group at 15. Now, I've decided to pick 15 other kids to do the poem to be fair.

While there are a lot of little jerks in my classes, there are also some cute moments. The CM2 (6th grade) class has about 35 kids and CM1 (5th grade) has about 45. Yesterday some kid asked if Nicolas Sarkozy is the president of my country. So either he thought I'm French or he had no idea Obama is the American president now. It's also cute when the CM1 class asked me to teach them the National Athem that the kids from CM2 got to learn. I didn't have time, so instead all 45 of them sang the Cameroonian National Anthem for me, on top of their lungs, in French and English. I think I may start incorporate funny English songs in the classes. They love singing!

Other good moments include New Years day when I danced with villagers in fantastic Cameroonian pop music, where no one asked me to marry him or take him to America. Also, when I taught Victor and Jean-Paul the simple task of keeping a cash book, recording all their expenses to find out what this "coût divers" actually entail. They are whom I call the "mushroom guys" who are trying to expand the Chinese mushroom production here in village. The ground here is not particular great for agriculture since it's really sandy, but the climate would be great for growing this particular breed of Chinese mushroom. Which, in case you are ignorant like I was, they actually are grown inside, in a building...

Victor is also the presdient of the development team in my neighborhood. He's great to work with, but always running around managing different things. For New Years, he brought me a bottle of champagne, just to thank me for my work here. Also, every time I visit his farm, I get mushrooms! Other good moments include when I am in the carrefour doing my shopping and people say hello and chat a bit. The good and bad thing about my village is it's really spread out, so I see people just often enough where I only need to stop and chat for a few minutes and never need to actually sit down and "hang out". But that's also bad because I don't think I'll ever make any Cameroonian friends over the age of 10.

Okay, this post got a bit long. But yeah, life here is such. The good moments are really good, the bad ones REALLY bad. I know if I return to "real" life, I will miss having such constant intense emotions. Gotta keep things in perspective. One day at a time, I suppose.

P.S. - I love when long lost friends contact me to say they found my blog and it's interesting to them. Thank you! It makes me feel like I'm here for some reason. Goal 3 of the Peace Corps, if nothing else..

2 comments:

Megan said...

You should teach them how to sing "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" to practice their English numbers backwards :)

Alan said...

Reading most of your blog, I kind of got the feeling you seem to be missing a lot of the jolly good things back home. I wonder if volunteering through the SVO is like military service where you are bound to do your time, like in Russia where every male up to 27 must serve for 2 years. Remember you always have a choice.