Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Cold in Africa

I really didn't plan on writing a blog post for this year's Blog Action Day because I honestly don't have all that much to say about climate change. But I think the weather this week wanted me to. We are now heading toward the end of October, and normally here in Cameroon, that means the beginning of dry season - months without rain, the heat, dust everywhere, dry season sickness - oh the horror. However, this past week, you would have thought we were in June - the midst of rainy season.

Like any culture, talking about the weather is the primary subject of small talk. This past week or so, everyone in village has been commenting on the bizarre weather this year - the constant rain and low temperature. I am not sure if I've just acclimated to the weather or it really is colder, but two days ago, I found myself bundled up in a cashmere sweater, sweat pants, socks and a fleece blanket while sitting with a cup of hot tea because it felt like winter where there is snow on the ground.

The temperature was likely only 60 degree at most, and this means this next winter, when I will actually spend it somewhere with snow, I may just freeze over. Anyway, the point is the abnormality of the weather. Whether or not the globe is warming up and the North Pole is melting away, the climate is absolute not the same. Is this the natural progression and evolution or is this due to our carbon footprint? I don't know. This is why I wasn't going to write a post - I don't have anything intelligent to say regarding the matter.

What I do know is, while this may not effect the everyday lives of people in the industrial world, its effect is immediate in places where agriculture is the main source of livelihood, such as with people in my village. In the rainy season, the rain usually comes in the afternoon, so people plan to go into the farm in the morning to work and return home before the afternoon downpour. But these past two weeks, the rain comes whenever it feels like it. People have no way of planning their days.

Few days ago, I took a moto to visit the lycée regarding my library project. The lycée in Batié is sort of in the mountains and not very easy to get to. Just as I was wrapping up with the meeting, the rain came, and not the typical rainy season rain where it pours for 15 minutes and stops. This was the annoying London kind of rain where it rains continuously and just hard enough where I couldn't take the moto back; I had no other option but to wait. So I waited - for three hours. On this particular day, I made the fatal mistake of forgetting my book at home. Those were three very long hours.

The repeated conversation I've had with villagers this week about the strange weather motivated me to write this not-so-in-depth post on climate change. Whether it's getting cold or getting hot - the weather is changing, and already affecting lives of people in some corners of the world.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October Happenings

Hello my loyal readers!

I am still around, and the excuse for the lack of update? well, the lack of activities. The month of October so far has been a lot of GRE studying, money-begging to fund Books For Cameroon by the end of October and preparation for graduate school applications.

Concerning the project: we are making very good progress. With just $2k left to go, we hope the project will be funded by the end of the month. Actually, we have to. We don't really have a choice since I received an email from Peace Corps Washington with pressure to get things off the ground. Since this is very much an all-or-nothing project, we really need your help! Don't let the $9k we've raised go to waste! Spread your Christmas cheer early this year. Rumor has it the decorations are already up in some part of the States? Donate today!

This past week I visited the schools in Batié, and aside from one school that doesn't quite have a room ready, the rest all have at least a room, and some even had the shelves built. I was really impressed by the engagement of the school staff. While the challenges are still ahead in successfully implementing the project, I can already envision the rewarding feelings in the end.

Last week was Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for the Chinese, so I went to spend it with my Chinese family. I am quite sure I celebrate more Chinese holidays here in Cameroon than I did in the United States... Just two days before the holiday was China's 60th anniversary of the current government. My Chinese family has no other channel but CCTV - the State-run television- and it broadcasted special programming for both of the holidays.

After watching all weekend worth of CCTV with coverage of the celebration and also holiday programming, I began to think of China as this wonderful, heaven-like place, and why wouldn't all of us want to spend our lives there? Until I got home and was reading articles on the uncensored world-wide-web. And then I realized I was probably being brain-washed.

Yesterday was October 10th - the independence day of Taiwan. A day in my childhood when we didn't have to go to school and can watch fireworks. I was not at the Chineses' this weekend, but I can almost guarantee there was no coverage of the 10-10 holiday in Taiwan on CCTV.

As a Taiwanese/Chinese-American living in Cameroon, I don't have any particular strong feelings regarding the Taiwan/China politic. However, during times like this, I do get slightly lost and not sure which side I'm suppose to be "rooting for". This is precisely why we need global citizenship!

On an unrelated note, I had created a personal online portal for all the virtual contacts that I've been making via social media tools. Asian Polyglot will be the blog where I talk about everything outside of my Cameroon activities. But for the time being, they will overlap somewhat. Feel free to take a look!