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29 janvier 2010

How to become a person of action:
Pur yourself in the position to act as an agent of change, alone in a community in a foreign country. You have two options: Give up and go home, or become a person of action. Also, have a giant fear of failure and publicize your journey very publicly. Effectively, this leaves you with one option.

(Ok, all you logic folks, that paragraph contains at least one fallacy, can you find it? Lizzie?)

Picked up the first of the Batir l'Avenir applications today. Students were turning them in while I was there. One boy, maybe 13 or 14 came in and said in a barely audible voice that his father refused to let him apply. What bullshit, can't apply to a leadership program? Breaks my heart.

Read through the 16 I picked up today (over 80 students picked up applications, ruh-roh, I might be in trouble with my NGO, there were only supposed to be 20, and they already thought that would be a lot to read, but who's to say that only the first 20 people are the most deserving?). Anyway, interesting stuff.

Bad idea: forging all your letters of recommendation. Yes, the first letter L was different on each one, but the rest of the handwriting was exactly the same, and you misspelled disciplined in all of them. And you were the only student to have recommendations from teachers from another school, 2 other schools in fact.

Two of the questions were: in what domains do you feel comfortable? and in what domains do you not feel comfortable? Most people understood the intent of the questions and put their comfort in science, computers, music, etc. and their discomfort in science, computers, music, etc. A few students described how they feel comfortable when they are healthy and with their friends and family, etc, and uncomfortable when they are sick, lonely, etc. My favorite though is the person who feels uncomfortable in the domains of lying, mockery, bad things and delinquency. Touche.

Also, it must be noted that Cameroonian script is as foreign as Cameroonian French. I can barely read it.

Things I see Often in Cameroon that I never (or rarely) saw in the U.S.:
Doing laundry by hand in a stream
Carrying everything on your head
Deforestation (alright, I saw this often enough in Humby)
A moto carrying 6 people (okay, i only saw this once)
Kids with hoops and sticks
Lots of missing teeth
Very public nosepicking by everyone, even when they are talking to you
3 & 4 year olds walking several K home by themselves
Slash & burn land clearing, the smoke gets so thick
Muumuus and machetes, often together

Things I saw a lot of in the U.S. that I never see in Cameroon:
Fat Kids
Privately owned computers
cars containing only 1 person
Streets without piles of trash

Here is a list of the adjectives most used in describing the students applying to Batir l'Avenir:

Almost every application had at least 3 of these words, usually multiple times over. So you can imagine my surprise when one student describes herself as:

When asked who is their model in life that they would most like to resemble, the tally is as follows (minus some names i don't know):
Bill Gates (two votes)
Chantal Biya (two votes, the first lady)
Barack Obama
Paul Biya (president)
Samuel Eto'o (most famous footballer of Cameroon)
Professor of Ethics
Jesus Christ

One girl aspires to become the first lady of Cameroon. Another received the recommendation that the is good at housework and cooking and will make a good homemaker some day.

Was sick Wednesday. My insides sounded like an 18-wheeler downshifting on the blacktop. It felt like my stomach was in a vise. Better now.

While recovering, I did a word-puzzle that was a cryptogram of different cheeses. It was just cruel. All these cheeses I forgot existed and are thousands of miles away.

Two things i have REALLY been missing this week:
th ocean
warm showers

My french comprehension and speaking is getting noticeably better, although still daily there are complete conversations that elude me. I'm also feeling more at home in the community, I think mostly because I have been out in it so much more.

Been crazy busy this week what with the Engineers, who left yesterday after great success. You can check out their blog at ewb-ud.blogspot.com . I will miss them lots! Thanks guys (Linda) for the reese's and cheesy chex mix and everything else besides! Also busy with batir l'avenir, and preparing for 3, maybe 4 meetings next week.

Just about to head to Baham for more Batir l'Avenir planning. Yay!

Love love love to you all!