Sunday, May 29, 2011

out of touch

at one point in our brunch convo last Sunday Robert asked me how school was going. right. good question. i gave him my honest, biased, unabashed and scathing opinion. good answer. we discussed the issue. he asked some questions. i answered. we spoke about our program [PCVs at teacher training colleges] briefly. said i'd speak to my APCD about the situation again. this time with the most recent issue of meager student succession at the GTTC. Robert asked for feedback on the meeting.

i told my APCD that students are disenchanted and no longer interested in TTCs, b/c they're not being hired when they graduate. he, as an APCD of Education (a senior staff member of an int'l development org) says, "sure they're hiring teachers. just look at all the ones here in Yaounde..." no need to even finish the sentence. in fact, i was caught so off guard by the comment that i couldn't react. he didn't even realize what he said/was saying.

are we here to encourage teachers to move to Yaounde to find jobs? are government trained teachers to rely on only private schools for employment? how do any of these alleviate the development issues we face? rural, uneducated, unemployed masses migrating to already overcrowded urban areas. my APCD doesn't even have the #s from this years GTTC entrance. he was quoting COSed volunteers' quarterly reports. file those! they're out-dated. so are you. out dated and out of touch. c'est dommage.

my problem is feedback to Robert. can i be honest, biased, unabashed and scathing?...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

overnight from Yaounde, short and semi-sweet

it's still raining in Wum. steadily. road still bad in 2 or 3 spots. not passable sans 4x4. overnight from Yaounde was short and semi-sweet.

got to the parc [bus station] in Obili right after seeing moms off. she called, by the way... shopping in Paris! God bless her.

i made it to Bamenda by 5am. got in the same Land Rover we took to Bamenda on Saturday (again, with Mr. Nshu) and left by 7:30am. 3 hour journey.

i was spent by the time we reached Wum. still... it was the most direct route, ~12 hours between Yaounde and Wum. not bad. achy bones. sleepy head. patience wasn't tried. so all is well.

it cannot get any greener along that [Bamenda-Wum] road. beautiful scenery. Maggie and i are talking about that trek from Nkambe. in 2 weeks? 13 days until Ramadan. subhan Allah.

Friday, May 27, 2011

a long lunch at the hilton

just before 10pm here at the Hilton in Yaounde. mama will be gone in less than 24 hours. that still hasn't really sunk in. probably not until i get home. we had a pleasant lunch with Robert Strauss and his mother-in-law. a Lebanese-American woman of Syrian origin. she and moms got along well. she hasn't been back since the war. smart, well-spoken older lady. i liked her.

Robert and i spoke a lot at lunch (had the buffet here at the hotel). about peace corps, of course. but i felt good about all we talked about. ETs [early terminations], extending, PCVLs [peace corps volunteer leaders], GTTCs [govt teacher training colleges], APCDs [assoc peace corps directors], etc. etc. etc. he can talk! moms can talk! both told stories... it was a long lunch, 12:30-3:30pm. but, again, a very pleasant one.

i especially liked that Robert's mother-in-law was there. such a nice woman. she said that moms' ya3nees and yallas warmed her heart. that's funny, because Ibrahim asked about the former. Patrick actually made a song about the latter! Robert thought one was my nickname. mama, God bless her!

we ended the day at the mosquée in Tchinga. for isha' [evening prayers]. moms, too. then we sat down in the lounge and talked. a lot. about a lot. mama listened patiently. God bless her.

i plan to fast tomorrow, insha'Allah. 15 شعبان

Thursday, May 26, 2011


"Psychological hunger is when your house has a view of an oil rig and you still struggle to feed your family everyday."
from a BBC report on a northern Angolan oil-rich / people-poor territory, where there's an annual oil revenue of $100,000 per head... but how much do the people get?

...speaking of 100,000, moms and i are in Yaounde now. at the Hilton. long trip down from Wum. 40,000 cfa and 3 hours to Bamenda. 60,000 cfa and 6 hours from Bamenda. left Wum late. it's now mid-night. i wonder about that 100,000 cfa. it bothers me, for a few reasons:
  1. what could've been down with that money.
  2. how easy it would've been to spend less.
  3. what it meant (to the Cameroonians around us) to spend that much.
more specifically, what it shouldn't have meant but did/does. i dislike being called patron. i can't say how moms feels about that. but if i could, i still wouldn't. God bless her.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

that part of my culture

lazy Sunday morning. "fields of gold" playing in the background. just ate فتة حمص [fattet humus] earlier. Paul and Christina passed by to greet on their way back from church. Harvest Thanksgiving. conversation got to weddings. tradition. contemporary customs. our place / your place.

i'm enjoying the amount of cross-culture moms is being exposed to. AND exposing people to, for that matter. and, as always with these cross-cultural conversations, we find that we're just as, if not more, similar as we are different.

i walked Christina home. she mentioned how she liked all the stories and insight moms has. esp. in our cultures' commonalities. i mentioned how moms (in being more traditionally eastern) was closer to their culture than i. Christina said yes, but that moms would make sure i'd not lose that part of my culture.