Monday, August 29, 2005

Well, I just finished my second day of teaching. I must say that Thursday and Friday at school went rather well. I had a total of seven students (out of twelve). These students are excellent! They are well behaved, love school, and even love to read! We had silent reading time and I was surprised to see all of the students reading quietly.

I feel like I am starting my first year of teaching all over again. This could relate to the fact that I am teaching a new grade level and I’m still trying to dig through the curriculum. However, the staff at the school is very helpful. I have found myself extremely busy preparing for my classes. My classroom looks better than it did when I first walked into it. Whenever I have it decorated to my liking, I will post pictures.

The best part about working in the school is the amount of responsibility the teachers possess. The director trusts that we will do our job and allows us to teach the students any way we can, provided that we cover the selected goals. Unlike in the states, there is not a group of people (who probably have never been in the classroom) telling us what we can and cannot do in our classroom. The director realizes that the teachers are in the classroom with the students, and it is the teachers that know their students the best.

I am currently taking malaria medication (doxycyline). This particular medication should be taken daily. This morning after taking the pill I threw up, which happens to be the second time I have thrown up this week. I hadn’t eaten this morning when I took the medication. My reaction is due to the lack of food in my stomach. However, the first time I threw up, on Tuesday, I had eaten breakfast. Currently, I am taking the malaria medication in the evening after dinner. This is working better for me. Many of the people I have talked to who live here have explained that taking this medication over a long period of time can be dangerous because it attacks the liver (like malaria). Actually, most of the teacher’s who teach here have stopped taking their malaria pills, but keep some handy just in case they get the symptoms of malaria.

Tonight we had a dinner at the house of the school board president. We have also had dinner at the director and secretary’s house. The meals they prepare are fantastic and their houses are gorgeous, with lovely decorations. They have usually hired someone to cook and serve the meals. Ever since we arrived in Cameroon two weeks ago, I have felt well taken care of. The president of the school board hosted this last dinner. There were also a few other board members present. They made a speech thanking all of the teachers for working so hard and doing great things with their children. It was very warming to know that the community backs the teachers.

On Saturday we went running with a group called the Hash House Harriers. I expected the group to consist mainly of Europeans and other foreigners. I was very surprised to find out that the group is mainly Cameroonian. They were such a welcoming group of people. We met up with them at the Hilton Hotel, which is at a central location in the city. We then drove to the destination of the run, a small rural area on the outskirts of Yaoundé. Apparently, they run different routes in different parts of the city every week. It was such an amazing run. The run took us to a village at the base of a mountain. We ran past small children playing with toys they had made out of plastic bottles. We ran through fields. We ran past families washing their clothes in the river. We ran through people’s backyards and over bridges. We ran up hills and shouted out songs and chants causing people to come out of their homes to see what the commotion was about. Whenever we fell behind, the ladies of the group would grab one of our hands to help us through the run. We even jumped over ditches and ran past chickens. It was definitely a great experience and quite a contrast to the area where we reside and especially a contrast to the homes we have visited for dinner. This was a more rural part of the city, with smaller housing and more dirt roads. After completing the run, we wound up at the same location we started the run. We formed a circle to stretch. At this point, the local people were curious as to what we were doing there so they gathered around us. After stretching the group took out some beers and began chugging them. They even initiated the new members by having us chug (soda of course). We then moved to the nearby bar and had a drink and chatted. They were such a fun group. We have decided to meet up with them again next Saturday. The group runs in different parts so I’m excited to see where we will run next week.

We went to play ultimate Frisbee today. On the way there we passed all of these officers standing on the sides of the road. At every intersection there was an officer wearing a blue uniform. I asked one of the teachers about this and he stated that they are preparing for the President to ride through the city and that at any point, when they get the signal, they would have to shut down the road. Luckily we made it to the school with no problem. However, we play ultimate out by the airport (exactly the area where the president would pass by). The officers had blocked the roads off causing us to take an alternate route. Even with taking this alternate route, we were unable to make it to our destination. So, we had to park a ways from the playing field. We finally made it to the field after walking up hill for a few minutes. About 45 minutes into our game of ultimate frisbee, we hear these sirens going off. And sure enough, we ran over to the fence to look down the hill and the President’s motorcade was passing by. His entourage was huge and consisted of his car, a dozen officers on motorcycles, even more black Mercedes and a few other vehicles. It was quite amazing to see the president riding through town (well his entourage at least because I didn’t actually see him). I hear that whenever he passes through the city, they can have road closures that last hours. We can see the president’s palace from our balcony. I still have yet to take a picture and post it to my website, but will one of these days.

Oh! I almost forgot. I got my hair braided this weekend. The lady who did it is from Nigeria. She says she has been in Yaoundé for only a few months. She did an excellent job. However, the braids are extremely tight. Check out the picture! I have also posted pictures of the school. When I get my classroom decorated, I will post pictures of that. I hope all is well. Talk with you later.


Anonymous Ron said...


Great post! Really enjoyed reading about your weekend. Sounds like the work environment at school is very good. Love the new hair do!

Sorry I missed your phone calls on Sat and Mon. Please try me again.

Mom and I have some plans for this weekend -- I will e-mail you the details.


6:27 PM  
Blogger T.J. said...

Hi Jennifer,
I'm glad to hear things are going so well. Sounds like the teaching situation is wonderful and that you have some good kids to teach. The school looks nice. In fact, all the pictures are nice and it looks like Cameroon is a very cool place. Of course, I hear you have to watch out for the crazy American drivers! Your hair looks good braided like that. I guess it has grown a lot since I last saw you, huh? Thanks for keeping us all up to date on how things are for you over there. Oh, I ran a 50K (31 miles) race on Saturday in the Santa Monica mountains. It wasn't really a race so much as a survival test given that we were in a heat wave this past weekend. Yen and I ran/walked together and it took us about eight hours. The course was incredibly tough!! I'm glad to hear you have found some friends to run with. All the best to you.


11:22 PM  
Anonymous Diane said...

Hi Jennifer,

Love your hair style. I am glad your 2 days of teaching went well. Your father, brother and I cannot wait to visit you.


11:38 PM  
Blogger claire said...

Hey Jen,

Noticed your hair immediately - it looks awesome! The run you took with Hash House Harriers sounds amazing, like an flash-by adventure that grazes images of a culture and society you will hopefully come to know well during the next two year

The way you are approaching this opportunity of experiencing Africa is impressive. Many Americans will travel, move to a foreign country in a place far away, but will never reach beyond the borders of their own culture. They will observe from afar the appearance of things: people, landscapes, celebrations... but they will never join in, and in the end they've missed out on understanding the flow if local life; the nature of the people. What you are doing is excellent, as you're caring enough to interact, getting to know the locas, etc.

Anyway, just wanted to say this all sounds awesome (in my own wierd way). Makes me want to visit Cameroon, or Africa at least.

Take care. Keep experiencing. Don't crash your car (I hear the driving's pretty bad)!


3:42 AM  
Blogger claire said...

mistyped 'locals' as 'locas'

didn't mean you're getting to know the crazies - that'd be pretty funny

3:44 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

Hey, my name is carl a medical student who did some research about the food consumption and health of school children in cameroon.

Please tell me about the news in cameroon. Is it peaceful or is there unrest.

its very hard getting news from Cameroon.

Good luck with the teaching


8:19 PM  

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