Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Last week's Conference

Last week’s conference was great. I was able to meet up with a wonderful woman, named Lynda, that I met at the February recruitment fair in Iowa. She moved from Thailand to Mauritania, West Africa. I enjoyed being able to talk with her and see her at the conference.
Being that there were over a hundred people there, it was fairly easy to meet and talk with other teachers to discuss education as well as the various countries they came from. It was wonderful to talk with teachers from Nigeria, Guinea, and Ghana.

The keynote speaker for the opening plenary was excellent. He presented on culture in international schools. What struck me was ihs comment on how although we work at International or American schools abroad, we still use an American curriculum, American research, and American strategies. He further explained that since students come from various schools they will not behave in the same manner as we are accustomed to as Americans. This point had a lot of truthfulness with me. I have a student who has different classroom mannerisms maybe because he came from a non-American school. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I pretty much expected him to react and do the same things that I have known so well in an American school system. His discussion gave me a clearer vision in teaching at a school with many various cultures.

The pictures of the dancers come from the Oku Mask dancers of North West Cameroon. During the conference they presented us with an amazing dance from their region. Each of the ten provinces of Cameroon has a particular traditional dance and outfit. I just loved the dried up seeds that they have attached to the bottom of their legs so that when they stomp they make noise. Enjoy. I will have another post later this week.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Here are the pictures that I didn't upload earlier this week. The internet at my house isn't so great, so I had to wait to do it here at school. Don't Izumi and I look cute? Well,I will add more pictures and write a little more tomorrow. So, don't forget to check back. Thanks again for all of the wonderful words. I really do appreciate it. I hope everyone is doing well.

Monday, October 17, 2005

My Cameroonian friends can’t understand why we are so terrified of mice and cockroaches. I really can’t explain my fear. They constantly remind me that I am bigger than them and that they are more scared of me than I of them. Perhaps its because I am not used to dealing with these creatures in my house. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mouse in person or had to deal with that many cockroaches. Let me tell you, that last week I opened my dresser drawer and there was a mouse in my clothes staring back at me!! You know I freaked and ran from my room screaming. My roommate bought some things to make a mouse trap. Essentially it’s a very sticky glue that we put down on cardboard with cheese in the center. On the first night, we caught three baby mice!! It was absolutely disgusting, but we had to do something to get rid of them. Since then, we have not caught anymore mice. But, I’m quite sure the momma and poppa mice are making more babies.

On Saturday I went to the bustling market called Mokolo (not sure if I’m spelling it correctly). It was highly crowded and amazingly hot. We worked our way through a maze of items and people. It was just like an outdoor swap meet, except more compact. As we walked through, people grabbed at our arms asking us to come look at their things. A lot of folks called Izumi Chinese. I think it was too much for her, especially since she is Japanese and is not used to people making strange Asian-like (or at least they think) noises at her. One guy even called me lame (because I was walking with a limp). I had a good laugh at that comment. I didn’t buy anything, but it was nice to experience such a market. We didn’t even walk through half of the market. We walked only through part of the shoe section. You know I was hunting for pumas, but something about cleaned up used pumas doesn’t strike my fancy.

This week we have a conference with all of the West African International and American schools. There are a series of workshops we can attend. I’m always excited about workshops because I hope to gain information and ideas I can use in my classroom. I’m also excited about meeting people from these various schools. There is a lady from Mauritania here who I met back in Iowa. It was nice seeing her here at the conference. I will write more about the conference later. I’m actually in a rush because I need to head to my first workshop!

I hope you enjoy the picture of Izumi and I. We are both wearing our outfits that we had made out of fabric. For the conference, the people from our school had outfits made from similar fabric. They are beautiful. On Saturday Izumi and I went to the fabric store downtown , called Laking, and saw wonderful prints. We are excited to buy some and make lots more outfits.

Have a nice day.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Days

On Friday, I ended up staying late after school. Since I left school around 6pm, I was able to catch an amazing sunset off in the west behind several mountains. The color of the sky was absolutely beautiful, golden reds and oranges. It made me smile and I couldn’t help but think that things will turn out just fine. In the beginning of the week, I didn’t have the same mentality. Things were horrible.

On Monday evening, my car was broken into. The radio, car documents, and my CDs were stolen. To enter the car, the thief broke the back window and unlocked the car. I didn’t realize it had happened until someone later informed me. And still yet, I didn’t fully understand everything that had happened until one of the drivers, Fabien, came back and told me the details. Tuesday was just awful for me. I couldn’t believe that something else had happened to me. In four weeks, I have had my knee injured, a bacteria (or malaria, whatever it may have been), and now this! A rush of negative thoughts filled my head for most of the week. In my mind, I wondered when my bad luck would end. Many of my coworkers cheered me up with their kind words. It helped out tremendously because I was really down and depressed. So, on Friday evening, I was finally beginning to feel better as the weekend began to roll in.

My friends, Izumi, Harrison, Ian and I left the house Saturday afternoon excited about the soccer match,between Cameroon and Egypt. This was a crucial game played at the Yaounde stadium, which decided whether or not Cameroon would enter World Cup 2006. As we headed towards the stadium we felt the excitement and joy in the air. Looking out the window we saw people standing in the streets cheering, motorcycles carrying people up to the stadium, people selling Cameroon soccer jerseys, and just pure anticipation for the game. As we drove towards the stadium, the national team drove by us on their charter bus. Everyone broke out in cheers.

The stadium was packed, people were cheering in the street and bars were filled with spectators. Cameroon scored the first point and everyone went wild. Egypt came back to score, tying the match. In the last two minutes of the game, Cameroon needed to make a goal. Their position in the world cup depended on a win. Egypt, regardless if they won or lost, would not enter the World Cup. Cameroon cheered as the referees granted a penalty kick. Now, I don’t ‘know much about soccer, but it seems to me that a penalty kick is pretty much a free goal. It is one player against the goalie, who has to guard an entire goal from this one players kick. The ball hit the right goalpost and off to the right of the goal and Cameroon missed their chance at the World Cup. People were angry. The originally cheering crowd , waited outside the stadium to throw rocks at the team bus, only to be chased away by the police. The mood in the air definitely changed.

By the way, you might think that I went to the game, but I didn’t. We had tickets, but we didn’t attend. Instead we watched the game across the street at a bar with a group of other people. At first I was disappointed that we didn’t go. This was Cameroon’s national soccer team playing for the World Cup. Then I thought to myself, for the last few weeks I have either been disappointed or sad. I want ed this day to be the day that I felt happy. I don’t regret not going, nor did I continue to feel disappointed. I watched the game with three other people who are just totally wonderful people. I realized that the friends that I have made here are great and I enjoy spending time with them. I was just so happy to be able to enjoy this experience with Izumi, Harrison, Ian, and Presley. It made me forget about all of the trouble I and made me realize I was fortunate to have such friends. And in the end that was more important to me.

I have received several emails from people. I have read them. I will reply (one day). But, thanks for the messages. Oh, one thing is for sure, the television we watched the game on provided us with great close-ups of the gorgeous Egyptian soccer players. I think my next move will be to Egypt! Enjoy the pictures and take care.