Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. In the past 6 years, I have only spent one Thanksgiving in the USA. I am beyond excited to be back. Celebrating this holiday in the foreign land, while at times memorable (those Peace Corps Thanksgivings were pretty epic), usually is pretty anti-climatic. Even though I am staying in the City and not going home for Thanksgiving, I am at least in the US and can make … Read more
Last year’s International Literacy Day helped me spread an important message and bolstered support for the Books For Cameroon project. I received lots of positive responses on my post as to why I started the project and why I value literacy. Here we are one year later, and the project lives on. I could not be more proud of my replacement Cristina and the efforts of RIDEV and other Peace … Read more
After weeks of banging my head against a wall, cursing at inefficiency, and later moving 23,000 books around, we were able to see the appetizer portion of the fruits of our labor on Friday, March 19th, when a small ceremony of book distribution took place in Bafoussam. The Books For Cameroon team – Kate, Siobhan, Connie, Laura and myself – was present at once finally. Prior to this, we’ve been working largely through email or meeting separately. It was great to have all of us in one space and witnessing the books going out to recipients.
I’ve been dreading to write this post on the difficulties and pure ridiculousness that we went through for those 23,000 books to arrive. After the past two weeks, the only thing I want to do is rejoice in the success, not revisit the frustration. However, yesterday I came to the realization that my time in Cameroon remains only 3 precious months. I became nostalgic for these past two years and frankly, quite sad. I need to write about the obstacles in order for me to appreciate the efficiency that I will undoubtedly face in the “real world”. It’s human nature to reminiscent over an intense experience and think of only the peachy parts, yet the details of the trials and frustration is equally important and merits documentation.
I am exhausted. I haven’t worked this hard since May 2008. After the ultimate obstacle course, which I will write about it at a later time, the 40-ft container of 23,000 books have arrived in Bafoussam on Saturday at 11am. Since then, the team of volunteers and I have been working almost around the clock during most daylight hours to sort through all these books. In total, we received 617 boxes of books. For the large majority, we had to take them out of the boxes and sort through them by subject and level.
In an attempt to remind myself why I started the psychotic library project, I decided to write about my visit to Fondonera from a few weeks ago. Bernadette is the queen mother of the Fondonera clan. She found out about my project online and wrote to the Peace Corps. Her email was forwarded to me and we had been in contact since. She’s a teacher and incredibly committed to the … Read more
Four days since I found out that the Embassy had changed its policy and can no longer clear our container. Théo from RIDEV was in Douala the next day after the news to meet with someone working at the Embassy to learn the process, and in attempt to find a solution. Yet somehow, four days later, no real progress was made. Meanwhile, yesterday I received an email from a staff … Read more
The events of this week has left me totally frustrated with the way things work in this country. I was always aware of the inefficiency, but I do everything in my power to avoid them. This past week, I’ve had to deal with them first hand. Let me tell you, NOT fun. I grew up in Taiwan and thus was brought up with the Asian efficiency. There were times when … Read more
Today, at some point during my two-hour business class, the Peace Corps equivalent of senioritis hit me. It must have been the moment when I was teaching the importance of sharing knowledge they’ve acquired with others, since I won’t always be here to teach the classes, and an annoying student who rarely shows up to class loudly shouted, “well you should just get married and stay here.” I looked at … Read more
I’ve always been a terrible procrastinator. In college, the semesters when my grades were less than stellar were the semesters when I didn’t have a sufficient part-time job. I take the free time for granted and I procrastinate. In the end. I don’t accomplish as much. Being busy in a way manages my time for me. There are only so many hours in a day to go around, and when … Read more