Soirée Culturelle (Thursday, 2010 August 12)

August 12, 2010

Presentation went well. I could give you notes if you wanted, but they’re in French and they basically just boil down to "languages with tones" and "noun classes".

Instead I want to talk about the "soirée culturelle", which is an event in which all the students show what they’ve been working on the entire "semester" (or 4 weeks or whatever in our "model school"). "Soirée" in this context means "afternoon"; we started around 2 PM, because though scheduled time to start was 1 PM, it had been raining around noon and Cameroonians don’t believe it’s possible to travel in the rain.

The club that I run with Peter, "Computer Science Club", didn’t have anything in particular to show. Some students created posters to advertise the soirée ("Ça sera chaud", "It’s gonna be hot"), and a couple wanted to "animer", or DJ the event. So we did that. Gaston was clear that we had to use our own computers if we wanted the students to be able to play with them, so I volunteered mine. At first it was a little bit of a disaster, because Ubuntu, plus foreign language (English), plus false keyboard layout (Dvorak). Me and Peter, naturally, were pretty checked out at this point, and to us this whole thing was disaster, but somehow we got it together, although that led to the fuckup that when the microphone was on, it cut out the music from the computer, so you couldn’t sing "with" the song on the computer. Additionally, the first group that sang was pretty not-good at singing. But they showed good humor and everyone got through that.

As the soirée went on, it became clear that there was actually a lot of really cool stuff going on here. Art Club presented a piece of "grid art" where each student had drawn on a sheet of paper and put it all together at the end. Girls Club sang too (by this point we’d worked out the technical fuckery, but stay tuned).

And then it started to rain. All the students naturally took shelter on the veranda of the school, which had been our impromptu "stage" (the field in the center of the school is a few feet lower).

Poetry Club read two poems in French, one about HIV/AIDS (!) and another directed towards us volunteers and the Organization. Dance Club’s number was pretty damn awesome. It was raining hard at this point. Everyone was under the roof on the veranda. And I realized: this was really cool.

Then something happened. The microphone stopped working. Someone smelled something burning. Power to the mixer wasn’t working. Apparently a speaker was emitting the burning smell. Fun times. It wasn’t coming back, so we hung out for a bit, trying to see if the rain would stop. It wouldn’t. I watched a guy use a "raquelet", which is essentially a giant squeegee, to push dirty water off the veranda. It was mesmerizing.

Then the Chorale Club decided to move indoors and do their performance in a classroom. Holy wow. They were amazing. It’s nominally Jenny’s club, but according to her they just completely self-organized, completely without her doing.

And then we called it a day and went to the bar.

Jessica’s been running around telling everyone the good things she wrote about them at the beginning of stage. Example: I am "inclusive, individual, and delights in his girlfriend". Then she took the quote I printed out from a Gus email down from the wall and showed it to me as evidence of something she had been trying to say a few days ago. She hadn’t realized I’d put it there three weeks ago. Damn right I delight in my girlfriend: because she’s awesome.

Timothy wore a delightful boubou in green. Andrew R. has a vest made out of our stage pagne. Katelin was wearing a beautiful dress she had made. I picked up my shirt today and it was way short, belt line and no further. What do you do about something like that? Not much, I guess. It’s a far cry from the fitted shirt Timothy wore last Friday which looked like pimp doused in baller. Guess I have to work on how to direct tailors.

It’s still raining on and off, and the power’s off now, so I’m gonna cut this short, take a shower and go to bed. Tomorrow’s closing ceremonies for model school and there’s really not a lot left.

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