It’s Sunday today, or as the Cameroonians like to write: Bafia, le dimanche, 25 juillet 2010 (that could still be wrong though as my Francais is still just a bit…or rather…really, really, weak).
Life as a Peace Corps Trainee in Cameroon consists of eleven weeks of technical, cultural, medical, and language training. I’m up at 6:45AM and in the Peace Corps training center until 4:30PM. Though the evenings are free, it seems that I’m always busy doing something. Here’s a glimpse into reality:
-Small Enterprise Development: I’m currently consulting a cyber café in the center of town. He’s a full-time teacher looking for ways to better manage his business. Thus far, I’ve had him implement a new accounting method (in other words, he didn’t have one before!) and we’ve figured out a few ways to lower his monthly expenses. We speak French, English, and “Franglais” and somehow we make it work!
-Local Language and Culture: It’s necessary to know French, but if you attempt to speak the local language of Bafia and even just say hello (pronounced “Y-um-bay”), they will love you! Did it at the market and received eight tomatoes instead of five for 100CFA – equivalent to about $0.20US. Everything is negotiable here.
-Kids: They love us! Whether I walk home at 4:30PM or 7PM, there’s a seven-year-old that always keeps a look out and accompanies me back to my house. She’s only about three-and-a-half feet tall, but it’s nice having a miniature body guard.
-Current Happenings: I was living in Manhattan and wearing a cocktail dress a few weeks ago…and I need a night out…and thus, I am organizing a discotheque night for the crew. No worries though! I am working hard (see Small Enterprise Development section above).
-Happiness: Watching “Family Matters” in French while reading the magazine “Planete Enfants” has become one of my new favorite activities with my host family.
The most difficult part is the language barrier…and the fact that I really, really miss greasy American food. As we’re only Peace Corps Trainees at the moment, we hope to achieve the honorable status of “Peace Corps Volunteer” soon! On se voit!