Community Hosts (Monday, 2010 Jun 28)

June 29, 2010

Today we got to meet our community hosts, who are people who came from our community to help us visit the first time, show us around, and so forth. It’s another semi-artificial emotion rollercoaster whereby we get to anguish about it for a while, compare notes, decide whose is better, and ultimately decide to be unhappy with our lots. That’s what I did after the first couple of hours, i.e. the first session, wherein we exchanged the following information: name, place of origin, responsibility (that is to say, job), and "a value you would like to share". I said I would like to share inquisitiveness; he said he wanted to share the value of "good work", which I think means "hard work". His name is Jean-Claude something and he is born and raised in Batié.

Those of you who have known me for a while how these things go. First, the snap judgment was made (he’s a tool); then, someone said to us "Well, give them a chance, you’ve only known them for two hours"; and finally I got over it, decided to put my game face on, and charm ’em a bit. He’s not as much of a tool as I made him out to be [N.B. he’s still a tool]. Julia said that I’m cool because I am cynical, but not in a pessimistic way (or something like that). Well, there you are. I’ll admit I flipped out a little bit over the way he was like "Oh, you teach computers? Well, do you think you can also do English? Because we really need English teachers. I’ll just put English in parentheses."

Some days Cameroon seems practically the same as back home, and sometimes utterly different. Today was one of the days when I melted down over the way they touch so often and the fact that 100 is basically the smallest denomination (whereas $100 is a couple weeks of pocket money). But I think it’ll be fine. I’m ready to do this site visit shit, and I’m ready to be a charmer for a little while and convince people to do what I think they need. (After days of community research, naturally.)

Dan said that this is where things start getting real, and we really have no way of being prepared for what they need; all we can do at this point is get in there and do the best we can. Par exemple, he’s a science teacher assigned to an Anglophone school, but his school has only a couple hundred Anglophone students, which is negligible compared with the Francophone students; he thinks he’s likely going to be teaching in French instead of in English as he was assigned to. And as a backup I think I can sweet-talk my community host Jean-Claude into admitting I’m really not fit for teaching English. After all, he’s a French teacher, which is his mother tongue, and not just anyone is really qualified to teach their mother tongue, right? It takes someone with a real talent.. I think you see where I’m going with this.

As an aside, I noticed today that an email I had received from Gus was marked read despite the fact that I hadn’t read it. I’ve tried to respond to every personal email I’ve received; if I haven’t responded to yours, it probably means I didn’t read it or the Interwebs ate it, and to quench my FOMO I’d appreciate it if you resend it. And also as an aside, I get out of trainee class at 4:30 most days, but the next few days are different because I’m going to visit my post. If you are desperate to call during the week, any time after 4:30 PM local time, which is 11:30 AM EDT, is fine. I don’t know jack shit about rates. You might inquire of my parents how they’re handling it.

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