Friday, July 10, 2009

Me, a teacher? hehehe.

Yes, friends, it’s true. But first…

Updates on the Penis Snatcher

Well, they are still snatching away up here in the Extreme North Province. Be glad, all you folks who are sittin pretty in the US of A, your treasures intact. Locals have still been getting stopped, detained, and beaten for these accusations. The scary development, especially for me, is that vagina snatching is now a reality! I do not make this stuff up. I’m not that creative. “Young-woman” parts are stolen away, then apparently re-sold for some 10,000 Nigerian naira! Yep, my hoohaw is worth $67. 71. And the young woman is supposedly given the parts of an old lady instead!!!!!

On to a less exciting (and less disgusting) subject: my work

Recently I started teaching business classes, and my final class of the session is tomorrow. (Note: I wrote this entry way back in June, just now getting to posting it.) My star student is actually a pastor at the local church, named Something-African-I-can’t-Pronounce Fidèle Castro. He said he tried to go to the United States once. They wouldn’t let him in.

Teaching has been fun and challenging. We talk about planning, marketing, costumer service, some basic book-keeping …gripping stuff like that. The educational system in Cameroon is so different, that I have to recognize that or I think I would be floored by all the blank stares I get sometimes. Both books and teachers are in short supply here. My PCV friends who are teachers here have told me it’s not uncommon for five or more kids to gather around the desk of the one kid who can afford the textbook. A typical classroom can have 50 – 120 students in it. Teachers write on the board, students copy it into their notebooks, (which constitutes the closest thing they’ll have to a textbook), and then they memorize it. With such large class sizes, there is no further discussion, no analysis. Just the back-and-forth process of regurgitating memorized information. So my arm-waving, question-asking, participatory style of teaching is pretty different to them, and earns me some funny looks (or blank stares). At least it keeps them awake... for the most part. The class recently gave presentations, a re-cap of some of the subjects we’d covered. Some of the students, although in their thirties and forties, said it was the first time they’d ever made a presentation in front of a group in their life.

It’s been fun to have such personal contact with folks. Some of them are really endearing, especially the old men. One is a real character who seems to forget his glasses every time, then has to run home to get them! So I have to check at the beginning of every class, “Vous avez les lunettes cette fois?” I do hate prepping for the classes, though; it’s quite time-consuming. I think I have a new-found respect for teachers. You’re always asking yourself, “Is this useful? Is this relevant in this context and is anyone actually going to apply what I am suggesting?” All my examples are geared to small-scale entrepreneurs, which make up the bulk of the economy here. Some guys in the class are interested in opening a second internet café in town, others a fertilizer store. Another woman sells koki (a food made with bean paste and spices) from a bucket on her head, while she walks around town. Talking with her about how much profit she makes is interesting because she’s never before even calculated her expenses. Star-student Pastor Fidèle says he’s taking the class because he wants to learn “to better manage the enterprise of my Father.” So round one has been promising, and I hope to do some more teaching in future months.

In other news: I’ve been in Cameroon for over a year!! If success can be measured by the holey-ness of your underwear, or the depth of your farmer’s tan, then I am bound for glory.

Til next time folks, take care, and try not to miss me too much! ;)

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