teaching in africa is nothing like I could have expected. When you come into a situation like mine, you bring all the experience you have and try to go from there. The only problem is is my experience as a student was close to a billion times different than the kids here will ever know. Most of the time it drives me crazy, but every now and then I have to giggle.

For example.

Last tuesday I came to class with a fresh stack of blank tests. It was test week last week and I had given the sixième class their informatique (computer) tests the day before. After passing out the papers I began to explain the first section. I had listed greetings in english in one line and in french in one line and they were to draw a line connecting the matching greetings. The class ERUPTED into cheering and clapping and yelling. They were so excited that they understood how to do it because we had practiced it in class. I had just told them no talking aloud so I pretended to be teacher-angry, but I’m sure a little smile escaped. How great is that? Also, as a side not, the majority of the class did great on that test!

The first couple weeks were review in all my computer classes so that I could catch kids up, and have the same lesson plans for all the grade levels. This was great for first time teaching practice because each lesson throughout the week got better and better. I found a great activity online to illustrate the relationship between the graphics card, microprocessor and the central unit. It required working in groups of three with one student acting each role. This is utterly impossible in Cameroon. The idea of working in groups or partners is beyond anyone. Sorry cinquiemes. They were the first guinea pigs where I discovered this. In my next class, quatriemes, I appointed a Monsieur Microprosseseur and chose a student each round to be Madame or Monsieur Carte Graphique to fill in pixels on the board which turned into a pixely heart after all the coordinates were plotted. It got better after every class, which was exciting, but it is frustrating to have to hold everyone’s hand through everything.

Another activity I had to walk them through was decoding a message imitating a supercomputer. I offered a prize which made everyone go CRAZY. I wrote the alphabet and gave clues for every other letter—b=2 d=4 f=6 and then put a secret message using the code on the board which after solved was MADAME KIMBERLY EST LA MEILLEURE or MISS KIMBERLY IS THE BEST. A lot of kids were completely lost to something I thought was going to be way to easy, though some kids did catch on. The kids who got it were super excited and raced to be the first to know the message and win the prize. Everyone cheered when they read off the message. I think they like me. 🙂

Today I finally came up with a great activity to illustrate an operating system. I had been brainstorming for weeks. The operating system of a computer is was talks between the actual hardware of the machine, and the other softwares, applications, organization and general goings on in the computer. I drew 3 identical mazes on the blackboard and brought to class 3 bandanas that my parents mailed me from the dollar store. (thanks guys!). I had them try and figure out the maze while the whole class yelled directions at them where to go. This was chaos, but it’s OK because that’s how I wanted it. Then I chose 3 people to be operating systems. They could give each person directions to complete the maze “go left” “go down” without everyone else yelling and confusing everything. Afterward they all agreed it was easier and better with the operating system, and then they continued to laugh and talk about the activity. I was proud of that one.

Also the kids have an awesome class clap which I want to get on video one of these days.

I can tell I’m adapting my creativity around what I have to work with, which is exciting seeing as I don’t really like teaching very much. I have started thinking about some secondary projects, too, which I’m happy about. Some health volunteers in the West region have asked me if I’d be interested in designing some posters for their presentations to have printed and laminated and used as a check-out system in the main offices. I’m really excited about it—anything to use my design skills here makes me happy.

I’ve also learned a lot of the local patois here now. My village loves it and everyone laughs and gets so happy and shakes my hand when I greet them in Bandkenkop (the name of the language and the village). I know most of the greetings, numbers 1-10, thank you, and give me 100 Francs worth of beignets. 🙂 They love it.