Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hello everybody only good news coming out of Cameroon today. They found the guy that stole my stuff he was q 5eme student and he fled after they figured out it was him. For all i know the poor kid is still in the bush! They used the picture I found on my phone and figured out it was a neighbor of mine then asked that kid and found out who broke into my house. They went to his house and found all of my stuff! So everything is right again I am out of town but I have all of my valuables and crime doesnt pay! Love you all and thanks for worrying!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking for Ms. Mars

So the last week has sorta been a nightmare but I want to say that I have handled it really well (I think) and until last night I was a positive attitude kind of girl with a get back on the horse look on life. Then I lost the music, sigh there is always a line and Africa crossed it. So here is the story. Monday I went to school and was there the whole day because the process of making a test that is actually on paper and the students don’t copy from the board is quite arduous. First you have to type the test on a typewriter on this special paper, and then you have to run it through this hand cranked copier machine. (If you have watched Animal House lately there is actually one of these machines displayed (though it must use electricity because the secretary wasn’t cranking anything). Anyway, it’s a lot harder than it sounds because you also have to barter for paper because they won’t give you any since it’s so expensive. The other professors were a lot of help but I can’t help feeling like my entire computer skills will have to be relearned when I get home. Now, as this took me the better part of the morning and I was teaching two long classes in the afternoon I was at the Lycee all day. During my 15minute break I sent a text message to a friend about giving her my encyclopedia Britannica so I know I definetly had my phone. Then I went to 5eme to teach for 2 hours. I forgot to mention that I have a cold and I couldn’t breathe out of my nose and felt awful. I slept most of the day before. Anyway, I try and teach the 5eme class and they are acting ridiculously. So finally I tell them that they must finish the work on the board and they can’t leave the class until I see their work in their notebook. So I place myself at the door and literally 100 kids bum rush me! They are climbing under my arms and pushing me out of the way and it’s a bad situation. So finally I look at most of their papers and I let the rest go because I don’t have a lot of fight in me. I get my bag and flee the premises.
But what happens when I finally get home and all I want to do is eat something and sleep before my Girls Club meeting? My keys aren’t in my bag but my house is locked so I know I had them. My neighbor gives me my spare set and I let myself in. I decide I deserve to pity text a friend and when I look for my phone it isn’t in my bag either. So I jump on my bike and go and look at the Lycee, and it’s not there and no one has seen my stuff. So Rachel calls my phone for me and someone answers and says their name and then when they realize I’m looking for them they hang up. So I get home and I have my girls club meeting and everything is great and I decide to take care of my locks the next day because maybe someone found my keys and you really can’t get any good locks in Ndelele and I really don’t have any money in town because I lent it out because Cameroon forgot to pay their teachers for the last two months so I thought I would help my colleagues eat.
So I get up and one of my neighbors comes over and says the radio has found a phone and it’s probably mine. So I rush over there but the time I get there the radio is closed and I have a class. So I get to the Lycee and the Discipline master who is my friend is really pissed about the whole ‘people stealing the white girl’s stuff thing”. HE has the kids on their knees the whole day trying to figure out who stole my stuff. I feel horrible because I know 99people didn’t still my stuff and they have a test coming up and they need to review. So I finish some work and go back to the radio. I end up waiting there for an hour and missing a class with my little kids at the Ecole Bilingue to find out that there was no lost phone and my student had misheard the announcement which was an advertisement for a call in show. (oi )
So I get home and I’m super bummed out and haven’t eaten again this day and I decide to grade some tests. The students did horrible on the test and it takes me the better part of 2 hours to grade them all. So I finally finish and I’m ready for some food and some rest when Rachel arrives and invites me out to fete Obama. Needing some friendship and to get away from my sad situation I grab some stuff and leave because people are waiting for us. I am out 2 hours and when I get home I realize a couple of things. One my stuff is all misplaced and two my iPod is nowhere to be seen. Someone has used my keys to come in my house and steal my stuff. After closer inspection I see I have lost my camera, my calculator, my markers, my flashlight, as well and a bag of pens my mom sent me (don’t ask me why they stole my pens). This is really crappy so I go over to Rachel’s for some support and she calls all the bigwigs for me. The mayor, the commandant of the gendarme, the discipline master, and Ruth who works for safety and security with Peace Corps. So the Commandant comes to my house and takes a report, the mayor visits me today and I need to call Ruth.
Here’s the good news, after more threats the students gave back my phone and we didn’t know who did it because they just left it on a table in a deserted classroom. However, the idiots made videos and took pictures with the phone so hopefully someone will recognize them. It just sucks because there haven’t really been classes all week because of this and had I have changed my locks earlier or hidden my iPod this wouldn’t have happened. I have no idea why the idiots didn’t take my computer or my radio but maybe they were too obvious to steal or something. Anyway it looks like my phone is okay which is awesome but the loss of my iPod is really horrible. I had tons of media on it and I was using it as a hard drive as well as an iPod and it was my source of entertainment during the day. I’m pretty bummed. I do have enough saved to buy another one and sent it to Yaoundé so if they don’t find it I might do that. Anyway it’s getting better I guess. If anything everyone has been really great and really supported. It really isn’t frequent that stuff is stolen in a small town like this and people seem to think they might be able to find my stuff. I wish we had a Veronica Mars in Ndelele so I could hire here. Anyways Love you all! Elyse

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Thursday

Alright so a lot to report since last week I am proud to say. It’s been a really busy week and I feel like it’s been really successful! First of all I want to say that I’m listening to Rodrigo Y Gabriela and let me say, first Chad you were right and Chiggie you have fabulous taste! Also that I feel like I’m cheating on Africa with latin rhythems. It’s like eating a hamburger at a Mexican restaurant, but I digress. Okay so this week started of steady with my girls group. After a rigorous day of teaching I ran home and set up my house to create a comforting and girly atmosphere. I guess it worked because 18 people showed up. Some of whom are my older students and they are super cool. Some of the students that are in even older classes came as well and some of them already have children (which will be slightly awkward during the abstinence speech- or maybe helpful?). But these girls are really driven and know what they want. It is however slightly odd that they all see the height of their possible achievements to be a functionaire of a village, (this would mean they married the principal or high ranking teachers at a school or they were/married an employee of the government. It is a big thing to be a functionare, you get to set up parties and stuff, but no one really cared about anything earth shattering, but I’ve realized out here that that’s cool too. We did an activity where they had to draw themselves as they were now and write three adjectives (thanks mom for the markers!) and then on the back they drew themselves as they would like to be in the future with three adjectives. This is the first time in Cameroon where I’ve seen a large group of people actually be creative and not follow my example exactly!
This week also saw me cracking down and stop coddling my students. I am writing them harder lessons and harder tests and I’m not so worried that htye are all going to fail (because mostly I was told everyone expects this and they aren’t happy with all of my passing students). The students will soon realize they have to work to pass my class and it is not easy and ub so will nto repeat directions four times. This is a hard lesson for me to learn as well as them because I actually want them to succeed and I hate when they are sad. It has also been good because my relationships with the students have become closer and they like me outside of class more so they tend to be better to me in class when I ask them why they are acting so bad when they were so cool the day before. I’m also writing a lot more reading comprehension exercises and not using their horrible book so much. The sutdnets have been reading about Barak Obama (much to their delight) as well as about 15 year old conjoined twins (there was an article in one of my newsweeks). The students are interested finally and they seem to be enjoying the lessons more.
This week was also the beginning of ht eEnglish club. My English head told me I couldn’t bribe them with points to come ot the club so I bribed them with cookies. This worked until I got swarmed and felt like a small child who has gone into that cage at the zoo to feed those scary green and red birds and they don’t have enough apples to feed everyone. It was really scary and those kinds acted like animall when I dropped some cookies they swarm in and actually sotle my bag to get them all. I don’t think they earned more cookies for next meeting. But I do have a very good club president and we played 2 English games- one for grammar (like a puzzle to put together a sentence) and one for vocabulary (a modified scattegories) they liked these a lot though they are scary competitive ( I guess this happens when cookies are on the line). I also pitched them my idea for a sketch for Youth week and they liked it so next week we will be writing it together.
That was pretty much my week, but I did just pass a small child that fell in the dirt and tried to help her up and she started scrying so loud when she saw me everyone came running. Turns out she fell in the dirt because the white woman scared her so bad! Wow, nothing says Africa loves you like a terrified toddler.
I hope you all had a great week and are continuing to have one. I want to tell everyone to enjoy the cold if they have it because it is terribly hot here right now, I don’t mind it so much but it makes you sorta sluggish- something we know about in Arizona. Also my parents pitched an idea to meet in New York this summer so I oculd see them and as I recall tons of you folks have moved out there so let me know if you want to get a drink in NY in the summer and if you make the starving volunteer pay for it you won’t go to heaven!

Love you all and miss you!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Back in Buisness

obIt's almost been a week weiht out power here in the Lele. It came on tonight (obviously I jumped for joy and ran home). This means my ipod has no charge, my computer won't start up and my phone has one bar. My neighbors have finally arrived after not being here for 6 months. They are Eveline a largery jolly woman who I imagine as Aunt Jamima adn her 6 year old daughter Doris adn now 4 month old baby. Let me tell you, things have changed. What was once a quiet hamlet of solitude adn contemplation is now the parade groudn for visitors and out doors loud talkicity. In real African style this lady (and family are crazy loud adn live so close to me they ought to be in my living room. It's acutally quite ridiculous not acknowldeging each other when I'm in my living room adn she's int eh courtyard sitting under my window. I feel sorta naked. but it also feels a lot less lonely. When you live alone and sei-secluded you miss the everyday noises of other people. Just the chit chat or banging of pans and I have that now, adn all that good and bad it comes with. The other funny thing is my neighbors daughter has a doll that plays the tune of "its a small world" and she can not get enough of it. At first it mad eme a mixture of sad/nostalgic and now it just gets into my head and I sing it all day.

So what does one do with their time in the dark without power? 1 make eleborate dinners- I made pita bread, fajitas, rice and taco sauce for dinner the other day. 2- Read a lot. Thank you to Jaime for sending "the Brief and Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao" very interesting read. And a big thanks to Chiggie as every for keeping me reading interesting and fun stuff. These books actually kept me awake past 8am which is the normal bedtime for a person with out electricity (jsut in case you didn't know). 3- Painting my nails and giving myself facials- thanks for the face mask Jaime. and 4- My neighbors showed up monday and wanted to do my hair African Style. I got it "rastaed" their word not mine, which means fat corn rows! You would be so jealous! I actually took it out after about 3 days because it was really itchy and they didnt realize I"m not blonde so I looked liek a cross between a crack hoe and an african albino beauty queen.

But those are just my days from about 5-9. I am actually back to some serious volunteer work. I started a girls club that I'm organizing with the help of students> I got a student to tutor me once a week, but I fear I'll have to teach her how to teach before she's actually effective. I am starting an English club where I hope to use my theatre skills and I met with Mr. Fonkau who is the other English teacher to evaluate my work so far. Turns out I'm actually not a very good English teacher, and I'm the first to admit it. My year plan is sorta all over the place (might be the lack of love for English) and I don't emphasis the communicative aspect of the language and focus on the grammar and the vocabulary. I am starting a new planning program and I will be a much tougher teacher now. I fear that the problem with all new teachers is the hope that all their students will pass, and that is just not accepted in Cameroon. Everyone is upset that 80 percent of my students are passing (I'm too easy and offer too much extra credit). Anyway, I'm getting a lot better at French and really settling in here Which it's about time. It has however turned ridiculously hot! So its a little bit difficult to stay my cheery self when I'm sweating all over the place, but it does mean its easier to run because there aren't huge mud puddles everywhere!

Anyway, I miss you all and I'm super excited to have current again and be able to communicate with you.

Love you All!