Friday, July 29, 2011

Model school, chicken killings, weddings... oh my

Let me see if I can recap what has been going on in the last couple of weeks. I guess I will start with model school...

Model school is a high school here in Bafia which is only 4 weeks long and created for us trainees to practice teaching before leaving for post. It’s also summer school and gives students a chance to brush up on some of their weaker subjects. Model school takes place at an actual high school called the lycee bilingue. My first week was a success but it was not easy. Who knew that preparing lesson plans then executing them in front of a group of teenagers would actually be difficult. I mean so far in my little experience teaching it’s the older kids- 10th, 11th and 12th graders that are the more tranquil students. I feel at ease, they’re actually learning what I’m teaching them, whereas the 8th and 9th graders- forget about it. I hate them. I taught them for 3 days 2 hours each day last week and I thought I was going to go crazy. They love to ‘derange’ just to derange (disturb- I’m throwing in a little franglish) I’ve had students throwing trash around, sleeping on benches, talking back to me, interrupting me just to say that this person stole their pen or notebook. I even had a student interrupt me just to tell me that this student and that student are des amoureux so they have to sit together... I know this doesn’t sound terrible but when it’s 45 students for 2 hours none stop, it’s pretty exhausting. Not to mention the 2 hours we spend lesson planning and barely getting through a quarter of it because the students are little ... But on the bright side, we have 1 more week of model school left. Apparently teaching at post will be a lot easier because we won’t have all this other training, host family and curfew business to deal with. Don’t get me wrong I love having this time with my fellow trainees but when you have limitations, obligations and information that continuously piles on top of you until you can’t breathe anymore you end up snapping. I had one of those days last week. I reached my breaking point and ended up giving my 2hr teaching block to another volunteer. It was actually kind of embarrassing. I was talking to our teaching trainer and had a moment. I had to walk away because I couldn’t stop the tears. I found out later that 2 other trainee’s hit their breaking point the day before.

Along with our jobs as teacher trainees we were given the responsibility- as all the other trainees that have been in our shoes, to organize clubs. Every Wednesday school lets out early so they kids have time to participate in extracurricular activities. I decided to have a dance club. My only mistake was not putting a number limit on the signup sheet. Thank God for Christine and Eric- 2 other trainees, who joined the dance club. We had over 70 kids sign up. It’s been hell to manage but last Wednesday we were able to group kids up in specific dances such as the Pinguis and danse de Bafia (both African dances) and also included hip hop and salsa. At the end of the club period we introduced them to the soulja boy dance- haha. For those of you who are not familiar with this American oriented dance please youtube it. “Soulja Boy- Tell’em”. It started out as a joke and one of the other trainees said that we should learn the dance and present it not only to the students in our dance club but also at the talent show this Sunday for all the trainees and Cameroonian trainers- haha. Please youtube it so you can laugh at the idea of 5 of us trainees will be dancing “soulja boy” in front of about 80 people Sunday night.

Last week one of our tech trainings got cancelled and we all went to the bar. A few people got pretty drunk and we witnessed a chicken killing, it was quite interesting considering that I had never seen one before. So Simon’s bar aka the main bar we go to, we call it Simon’s place because one of the young boy that works there, his name is Simon. There’s a house that’s connected to it with a shack that divides the bar and the house and there are always chickens running around the bar. I’m assuming that they raise chickens at the house and sell the eggs at the bar. Some of us were having a couple drinks after our long day had finally ended and Simon started chasing one of the chickens around the bar. A bunch of the guys in our group joined in not really knowing why they were actually chasing a chicken- as you can see there isn’t much to do here recreationally so chasing chickens, or in my case watching this happen was very entertaining. After about 20 mins Simon finally caught it. The following day, we watched that same chicken take its last breathes... The day after that Simon’s family cooked it and offered some to a bunch of us. It was delicious!

Last weekend I was invited to attend 3 Cameroonian weddings. One was a Muslim wedding and the other was a Christian wedding. There were about 6 of us that that attended. Joanna and Michelle went with her family, Jack went with his family, Matt went with his parents, and Nate was the wedding crasher of the night. It worked out pretty well. 3 of us attended one wedding and the other 3 went to the other one. Around 12:30 we all met up at the 3rd wedding and stayed until about 230am. I heard the music at that wedding playing until 430am. I’m pretty sure some people didn’t even go to bed because Joanna and I walked over to a nearby bar for some bread and chocolate around 10am the next day and 3 Cameroonians were drinking, singing, dancing and grabbing at us. I would have found it funny if I had slept more than 2 hours the night before. But in the end we did laugh it off because after all it was 10am and these guys were hammered. Well it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere right... After our stop at the bar for some food we then grabbed our bags and headed to the SED house to use the internet and get our lesson plans done. About 5 hours later and about nothing accomplished we decided to round some people up and go for a bike ride in the woods. It was a great way to end the day even though I had not slept much the night before. Joanna fell twice and I technically didn’t fall. I jumped off the bike every time I lost my balance. It was like off-roading on our bikes, it was great. We got pretty scratched up. It was an awesome adventure. We had an hour to kill before curfew so we stopped at the bar for a beer before calling it a night.

I also want to point out that sleeping in, in Africa just doesn’t exist. No matter what time you go to bed, the morning comes pretty quick. The sun is shining, the roosters are crowing and the pigs are screeching usually around 630am so you can imagine anyone’s’ battle to continue sleeping.

A side from my life at school, at the bar and at home there isn’t really too much else that’s been going on. My family feeds me super late with a mountain of carbs and it’s good but I hate going to bed with a food baby every night haha. Our food of choice here- while we’re at the bar, we usually have a goute after classes. Our snack choices are sometimes pizza bread... it’s pretty good… well, Africa good anyway. It’s basically half of a baguette with tomato paste and laughing cow cheese... I know that sounds disgusting but it’s not as bad as it sounds. I definitely won’t be bringing that back to the States. However, what I will be bringing back are the spaghetti omelet sandwiches. They are amazing. It’s basically an omelet with spaghetti, tomatoes and onions in a baguette and it’s usually eaten in the morning. I’m also a fan of the bread, chocolate n banana combo and cheese, egg sandwich. Speaking of food I had my first mango last week, that was really good. I also had deer for dinner one night, which is apparently a treat because deer is difficult to find here- my first taste of bush meat. Oh and I finally had street meat! It was great, I didn’t get sick from it haha. Or so I think. I’ve actually been having stomach problems for a couple days now... again. I’ve come to the realization that by living in Africa having a solid bowel movement is almost impossible. Ask anyone of us... lol. Sorry, once again- TMI. Like I had mention before filters just don’t exist here. We talk about everything. It’s just about time for me to wrap this up, I have a class to teach in about 20 mins.

I’d like to add that I miss my friends and family every day. I hope that you all are considering a visit to Cameroon in the near future. You are all welcome to come! A la prochain, gros bisous a tous!