Sunday, September 28, 2008

Through BS comes clarity

Its very funny because the title of this blog has changed three times. It started off as “my first X on the calendar”. I was told this story about a PCV who decided that everytime she had a day where she wanted to ET (early terminate) she would put an X on her calendar and then wait one week and if she felt the same way then she would seriously consider it. Yesterday was an X day. I decided that this didn’t work though because the story continued. Next I decided to call it, “mamma said there’d be days like this”, but that didn’t seem to work either because I couldn’t just sit back and let Africa bitch slap me. So I think I’ve settled on “Through bullshit comes clarity” I think it works. Read the story and you decide.
Yesterday was Wednesday, which to me means two things. 1- Hump day and 2- Boring meeting day. Every Wednesday it seems the school calls these incredibly boring meetings which take up 5 hours and bore everyone to death. No one questions these meetings or challenges them, they just accept- like a dog with a collar. I guess it takes the new girl and some very interesting doodles on her paper to shake things up a bit. After teaching for four house (which doesn’t seem like a lot until you’ve been in a Cameroonian classroom when you are still figuring out how to discipline kids with out hitting them- everyone else’s method). My kids had deranged me insanely all day and I had to send some to the Discipline master which I hate doing because I know he beats them. Well I was already feeling the stress this week because I’ve been here a month and still haven’t made any significant friends except my post mate- Rachel’s- cat whom I was taking care of. Well Rachel returned on Wednesday and I knew I had to give the cat back. There was a light at the end of the tunnel though, I am going to Batouri to fill my gas tank for the weekend- and I am super excited. Well anyway, I was very stressed out and after the meeting started 40 minutes late I sat through the reading of what seemed like dozens of pieces of paper talking about different problems with the education system- the same problems we had all discussed last week with no solutions. Anyway, I’m doodling away and most of the teachers are watching or falling asleep when the Proviseur gets a phone call. This is no uncommon and he exits the meeting which he is running and talks for a while. While he is gone th eDisicpline master decides its time to humiliate me. Infront of everyone he starts telling me that my classes are too loud and I’m not trying and I’m not strong enough and I need to hit the kids. This is the first I’ve heard about this and he decides to yell at me infront of all my collegues. I try to tell him that I am having a competition in my classes where the students are in teams and they are given points for responses to questions so they are very involved in the lesson and often loud. This doesn’t seem to matter he is still angry.
So I am a bit upset but its all good, critizism even if it ocmes in a crappy package is still good and constructive. But then the meeting continues for another 2 hours and as I am planning a quiz for the next day and not even trying to listen because my French skills at this point are totally gone, I hear “Miss” and in French “are you paying attention this is all about me” Then the proviseur (principal) proceeds to echo the comments that he didn’t know the Discipline master had already yelled at me about. Except the proviseur has even less tact, I’m not even sure he knows the word. After a while I am in tears and trying to be cool and deal with the meeting. No one backs me up and no one lets me explain- if I could in French. So the meeting continues and now when I finally think its over- it turns out we have to all eat together and then get a beer. Well after a little cous cous I call it a night because I have to go get Rachel’s cat and give it to her.
So I walk home very upset and trying to not be overwhelmed. I get home and clal my very good friend Gloria who is an angel and she starts talking me off the ledge, when my neighbors arrive with the cat- they are holding it upside down by the tail. They tell me it got run over by a motorcycle. Wow- could the day get better?
Thankfully Rachel was totally nice about it and said it was okay and it happens (but she didn thave to see the body) I take a ridiculously long run so I don’t freak out. But when I get back- after being totally upset, I realize I have 10 texts from different people in Cameroon who care about me and are sending me their love and support. Then today I decide to tlak to the proviseur about his lack of tact and my new method of discipline and after having a very annoying discussion where I wasn’t understood or given a chance to speak, my friend the German teacher asked me what was a matter. And sometimes you just need a sympathetic ear.
We ended up talking for an hour about discipline and tact and my experiences and my new teacher status and pedagogy- all in friench! And it was awesome, I even cried which was totally embarrassing and he was really nice about it. Then I taught and it went a really well and the students were very nice to me even after I punished them, like nothing happened. Then I went to Rachel’s and had a great time talking about her trip to England and meeting her new cat (she brought one back to give to someone but decided to keep it). Then my neighbors came over (2 12 year old girls and their 5 little sisters) and we translated French songs to English and english songs to French for each other and talked for a long time. Then I went to the market and met a man on the street who talked with me a long time about various interesting things. I think it’s the first time I’ve had an actual interesting conversation with someone.
I realized that shitty things happen, but people are the same anywhere- they have your back and care about you, they just don’t know how to show it when you aren’t very well acquainted. I’m going to continue being myself and doing what I do and trying to understand the culture I know there are going to be some really crappy days- but even if I feel totally alone I’ve got friends all over the country, well the world that have my back and care, and sometimes you jus tneed a text message that says ‘screw it- when you come to Batouri this weekend we’ll go dancing” That’s what got me through today with a good outlook. I’m doing well everyone, even though shit happens. Love you all and miss you! Elyse

I wrote this a few days ago so I just wanted to update it and say that I went to Batouri and had a fabulous time! We made stuffed tomatoes adn went dancing and watched tons of The Office season 3. I'm really glad that only 5 hours away are some really great people that have my back I love you all and please don't worry about me, I"m having a great time and enjoying the challenges that every day brings.

Muah- Big hug

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pee on the floor

So What's new in Africa?
Today was hilarious because I decided to go for a run in between the crazy rain that' s been going on and I was running down the main road- where all these 18 wheelers come through every once and a while and I'm listening to Eye of the Tiger and I'm running up this crazy hill and I see these boys who have a puse - which is like a three wheeled cart they use to gather wood and then push back up to their house (the verb to push is congegated puse) anyway, the kids love to sit in the puse and roll down the hills- well I guess in my mind they can steer because I see them coming toward me and I think- hmm that's looks fun and I think- oh they'll move. But then they get closer and we do one of those- both going to the same way moves and of course I am about to get hit by this huge cart barreling down a hill and I decide to ditch it. I jump off the road into the ditch that is full of mud and I realize after I get back up that two of my colleagues from the school are taking a walk and see the whole thing. I'm sure it'll be the talk of the town tomorrow.

So I had a really good weekend because my friend decided he would take me around town to take pictures. Since he speaks Kako- the local language it was so much easier to meet people. We passed a house that had a monkey tied to a tree and we played with it a while. I have a video it was awesome, but then Will told me that they were going to eat the monkey. Which is really sad! I also went and saw where the Pygmies live and I met some of them. It was really awkward because it was obvious we were coming just to see them like they were an attraction and they treated us like royalty. It was really interesting. They use coke bottles as grave markers and they half dig them into the earth and they represent their lost children. One of the women explained this to me and I found it really interesting that they used old coke bottles. Here the glass bottles are a very serious item because you get money back for them and they reuse them- i assume it would be a sign respect to not turn in a bottle and use it for a grave marker.

I am trying to start a theatre or dramatics club at the Lycee but its really hard because things don't happen here fast. Everyone tells me to wait until school is underway (which it has been for 2 weeks) and they want me to be head of the English club instead! Well too bad they are going to use their imaginations if it kills them. We'll do theatre exercises in English!

The people are starting to warm to me I think- on Sunday I had tons of visitors to my house including my two 17 year old friends who come and take care of gross things like when the cat eats mice and brings them into my house or sweeping my porch. This friendship is a little odd but I have had extensive conversations about how they are my brothers and nothing else. then I have 4 young neighbors who show up and put on my bike helmet and touch all of my things- which is annoying and a little cute. Then I have some girls that come from the Lycee that ask for gifts and touch all of my things and dance to my music. These girls brought their baby brother who is probably 9 months old and he wasn't wearing any clothes. One of my big questions was answered when he started to pee in my house and it went everywhere. Lets just say I cleaned my floors a lot this weekend.

Well that' s all from me. My internet is becoming more reliable and with it my sanity is returning. I think its very interesting because I thought that I was goign to be battling the tough living conditions and different food- and that's hard and all but you can get used to anything. Right now its just hte lack of friends and an oppurtunity to have some fun that I'm missing. It'll all come with time but its hard not to be able to go out and get a beer after a long week!

Miss you and love you!

Happy Belated birthday to Sam and Tara!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Running on Empty

Dear Everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that I love you all tons and the fact that my internet connected tonight actually brought a tear to my eye I was so relieved. This is very funny because I was on the internet 10 days ago and some volunteers will only be on once a month, but when you go to crazy measures so that you won't be crazy isolated it really sucks when your region decides it doesnt want to give you the internet, but with a little prayer it seems like I'll be able to get it every week or two which is good.

Right now it is a little hard for me because I'm going through a big adjustment. I know I've said before that living in Ndelele is like living in Wikenberg or some passing throuhg village. I wanted to give you a visual so I actually looked at the layout of the town and realized its about as big as the U of A Campus. It's really spread out so htat's why, there are definetly not as many things as the campus has. My walk to school from my house is about as far as Centennial Hall ot the Administration Building and my walk to the restaurant Amadus (where the y sell omlets and beans daily) is liek from Centennial Hall to University Street. Baturi (the big city where the other volunteers are) is like west phx but just takes 3 times longer to get there because of the crappy roads adn cars.

somethings that you might find interesting:
The people of Ndelele are getting used to seein gme running and are now telling me I look beautiful when I run- which is weird but whatever

Small children are now visiting me and I'm not really sure how to entertain them. They do however always end up eating all of my bananas, which I normally have about 4 of for random snacks- little vultures

I put up those Gap adds of Aaron Eckhardt and Jeremy Bivens on my wall and they are a nice complimetn to the three maps and pictures of the beach I have posted with random pictures of everyoen I love as well.

In a hilarious moment when those kids were at my house they were looking at my pictures and one runs over with a picture of me and Chad and he says, "C'est Chuck Norris." Oh man I fell over laughing. Evidentally I'm best friends with walker Texas Ranger.

I went to a big fete for literacy recently and I got to dance with everyone and I made friends with a Japonese Nun- it was a very bizarre day.

Rachel's cat, who i'm cat sitting, likes to bring me little lizards and mice as presents which is weird and relaly odd when they are still moving. I've stopped being so freaked out when I see it though.

I am slightly obsessed with the Office and have watched all the seasons except for half of the seond and half of the third, but i think they are hilarious and watch the 4th season over and over- I am so happy for Jim and Pam!

I think that's all for now,
I will write a longer more comprehensive blog soon now that I knwo the internet will work every once an da while. Don't forget me and know I totally dig you guys!