I was trying to post every 2 weeks but things have been so swamped lately I haven’t had the time/sanity to write one. Here’s what you missed:
As an education volunteer, we spend 5 weeks of training working in model school. This is essentially a summer camp for students which is exactly like real school. The science teachers spend the mornings teaching a mix of math, physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science while the English volunteers teach the different levels of the francophone section. A select few teach both, and by select I mean most of us didn’t sign up to teach both and someone else made us. Once a week the children are forced to participate in club activities ranging from football (soccer) club to philosophy club, also run by trainees.
Through model school we’ve gained a lot of insight into the Cameroonian school system. At our only pta meeting a mother used us to verify the alibi of her child. Cheating is rampant, so is corporal punishment, and there’s a section for manual labor in the report cards. I help run the music/theatre club with two other volunteers (tbh it’s mostly them sorry guys) and everything is fun and games until the student improving as teacher pretends to start beating the students.
There are also the two separate school systems to consider. The anglophone system and the francophone system function very differently from each other. The grade levels are different, the curriculums different, and the exams are different. Take the differences between these two systems and blow it up to the scale of different languages and even law systems in the same country and you can begin to imagine the kind of political conflicts that might arise.
So far I’ve learned: 1) children are monsters 2) language barriers come in hard with test instructions. My test averages have been about 6/20. Oops. Through model school we start learning how to prepare our lessons and manage our classrooms on top of keeping up with our language(s), our technical training sessions, figuring out how to survive in Cameroon, and whatever else our staffers decide to throw at us.
In other news, I’ve gone from knowing no french to being able to understand and communicate (most of the time) with strangers. I’ve washed everything I own by hand out of a bucket from my bed sheets to the soles and laces of my shoes, mom insisted. I managed to help prepare and cook a meal which took approximately 7 hours. No, that’s not an exaggeration. And finally, I managed to navigate through my first holiday and birthday overseas. If you’re not tired after reading this post I’d like you to know my mattress sucks and I’m frequently terrorized at night by mice.
As excited as I am to finish training (understatement), I know I’m going to miss my host family and the comfort of having 25 other Americans living in the same town as me. But for now, all signs point to swearing in.