Happy New Year to my lovely readers!
In 2009, I spent the entire calendar year in Cameroon. The last time I spent an entire calendar year in the same country was 2004. The constant locality made me feel as though nothing much happened, but in close examination, 2009 was yet another exciting year. I continued to grow as a person and finding new directions in life. 2009 was the year that I really improved on my French skills, my bargain shopping abilities (Cameroon style), and became fluent with Cameroonian travel. This, however, was also the year filled with technological mishaps.
January: Macbook internal hard drive crashed just after the New Years. I spent the month thinking a lot, reading a lot, writing a lot and being mad at the Cameroon postal service a lot. This was the month I questioned for the first time my role in the Peace Corps and my purpose in Cameroon.
February: Macbook fixed. Wonderful trip to the Grand North region of Cameroon with Juliette that took me out of the funk. Began new chapter of social life in Cameroon after Juliette’s departure from my village. Advertised and organized my first series of business classes. Drama with village kids began this month.
March: Successfully began business classes in village. Feeling productive and contributive for the first time. Planning for the Books For Cameroon project was underway. Village drama with kids continued. Introduced to the world of Twitter!
April: Wonderful ending to the business classes. Proposal writing for the Books For Cameroon project and other prep work. A big thunder storm came through and fried my power converter and Macbook charger.
May: Traveled half way around the world to my place of origin in Taiwan, with extended layovers through Paris. Very touching experience to see families again after so many years, and also re-thinking about my roots. Logged 48 hours in an airplane within a 3-week period (lots of frequent flyer miles!).
June: Hosted my long-time friend Megan’s visit to Cameroon. Refreshing seeing Cameroon from her perspective. Proposal for the Books For Cameroon project approved, began the long grueling process of begging for $11,500.
July: Conducted a week-long business seminar in Yaoundé for a group of university students with RELUFA, a Cameroonian NGO. Strategizing the fundraising effort. Drafting press releases and researching various avenues.
August: Launched second series of business classes in village. Continued money-begging. Decided that I would return to school after Peace Corps and purse a masters degree in the areas of international relations/economics public policy.
September: Finished second round of classes. Shifted fundraising activity into high-gear. Flooded every social media website imaginable. Basically bugged the hell out of everyone I know and many people whom I don’t know. Desperation makes one do crazy things. Also, GRE studying. Technological mishap: Kate dropped my iPod, and it died. Luckily, Nura sold me hers.
October: Somehow, miraculously raised $11,500. Re-took the GRE. Prepared for graduate school applications. Followed up on various business consulting projects in village. Bought Nura’s comp when she left the country as an insurance against future technological mishaps.
November: Submitted graduate school applications. Received the first acceptance from University College London a few weeks later. Began planning logistics to execute the Books For Cameroon project. Thanksgiving in Bali/Bamenda.
December: Follow-up with participating schools and communities in the project. Communicating with Books For Africa on the Stateside, RIDEV, MTN Foundation and others in Cameroon to plan the next step. Holiday travel to Kumbo, Limbé and finished the year in Yaoundé. Last tech mishap of the year: dumped a cup of coffee on the computer I bought from Nura, and it died.
All in all, a very fulfilling 2009 and here’s to an even more exciting 2010!