It’s so good to be doing design projects again! I had to come to Africa to realize how much I loved it. Here’s some stuff I’ve been working on with a group called COFTRAKOL in Bangangté. Matt works with this group of 25 women, mainly a women named Florence, focusing their mission, vision, all things business, etc. He asked to help with marketing so a few months ago I came up with their logo. Here it is in french & english:

Recently Florence just got approved to go to the States with the finalization of her Visa—thanks to Eriika, Matt and Richard! Richard is the RPCV that helped with COFTRAKOL the two years before Eriika and Matt arrived to Bangangté. He applied for Florence to attend a seminar in Washington D.C. for Women in Development, and she got accepted! Richard is now going to be the one to pick her up from the airport in D.C. It’s not often we get to see the product of our work here, but this is a special instance. Florence is such a wonderful women to work with.

Matt asked me to help with marketing, so when Florence knew she was leaving she asked me to design some business cards. I took one night to design them and the next morning she told me how much she loved them and how she also needed a brochure made in english. One more night of work and a morning of editing with Florence and this is what we came up with. (card front, card back, foldable 1-page brochure)

I didn’t spend as much time on these projects as I usually do, so when she gets back I’ll do more refining, but it was definitely the push I needed to decide on a color palette and other cool design elements.

(She laughed at me the whole time I was arranging her products for this picture and carefully placing broken Shea nuts. 🙂  )

She’s leaving next Friday and I’m so excited for her! Her son is also interested in graphic design (RARE) so who knows.. maybe I’ll be able to mentor him and give him projects. 🙂 I’ll post more of the packaging when it’s closer to completing.

thoughts on freedom

In lieu of our country’s independence, here are some thoughts on freedom:

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
-david foster wallace

-I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom, Alvah, freedom.
-You call that freedom?
-To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.
-What if you found something you wanted?
-I won’t find it. I won’t choose to see it. It would be part of that lovely world of yours. I’d have to share it with all the rest of you—and I wouldn’t.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The DFW quote is my favorite quote that I saved on my computer and open up to read every now and again, and is the contrary to the other. For a depressed guy he was truly inspiring. I’m reading the Fountainhead right now, and I’m really loving it. Its written according to the philosophy of Objectivism by Ayn Rand that says many things, but one of which is that the pursuit of one’s own happiness is the “proper moral purpose of one’s life.”

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
—Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I don’t know if I believe this philosophy, but the book is extremely interesting, and is on the subject of architecture and design with one character designing buildings at their simplest forms and logical layouts, while the popular architect designs for the clients adding unnecessary adornments to facades and layouts to provoke discussion with no real use. It’s great so far and I roped my architect friend and old roommate into reading it with me.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, because I’ve been in village trying to conserve on my internet hours, as well as the fact that this July I gave myself a crazy schedule. Each Tuesday and Thursday I’m giving adult computer classes to people who have never touched a computer. Each Wednesday I’m teaching anyone who wants to come to my house starting with how to make tofu, block soap and powdered soap, paper &fabric beads, Batik (fabric dying with wax), and then Matt is coming for the last week to give an Intro to Business class. So far a lot of interest, and yesterday I accidentally worked on my computer for HOURS making a computer game on Flash so the adults can practice clicking and stuff. It felt good to be working on design projects again.

I also talked a woman in Yaoundé into giving a small class of fabric dying so I can better teach it in my village. She makes beautiful fabric and I bought way too much the last time I came to town. She’s a wonderful lady, named Charlotte and we had a good time dying our own fabric which are now skirts. Enjoy the pics!

Also, I recently got my first weave put in. Let me say, it really takes a village. I think everyone got to do at least one braid. Not really, but as people passed they would stop and talk or stop and braid a few and then continue on shouting “Du courage!” as they left. Some people laughed, and some people told me I looked more than beautiful. My main braiders were Mama Marie and Fanou, the 7 year old sister of Ingrid and daughter of Honorine. They laughed when I maid faces from pain and continued on until 3 packages of fake hair were tied onto my scalp. It turned out nice for a weave on a white girl, and I plan on leaving it in for 2 months and never doing it again. It’s 4 days later and my head still hurts.

Lastly, I got the best surprise in the mail the other day. The post office here is a joke, and I’d been trying to get my mail for weeks. The guy with the key is always out, or they’ve closed early or opened late in the day on purpose so I can’t get my mail. Finally I went a few days ago for my long awaited package, and they gave it to me! I was hoping it was the package of art for my students from the Art Exchange that I had them participate in, but when she opened the door and I saw it wasn’t an envelope, I knew my package had gotten lost in the mail like I’d thought and was disheartened. I took the package and tilted it up so the mouse holes didn’t drop anything out of them. I looked at the name and didn’t recognize it, and went straight to the office to open it.

I cut open the box and saw a letter on top of a pile of wonderful things. The letter was written by a women who follows my adventures in Africa through this blog, and had included some gifts for my students and myself. I immediately used my new burt’s bees, ate my chocolate, went home and lit my new candle. I knew I needed to update my blog since it’s been over a month and THANK this Kansas mama! Life in Cameroon gets to be life in Kansas really quick. I began with a lot of energy and inspiration, and slowly lost adrenaline and reverted to my normal ways in America. Bandenkop has become my new “small town” with it’s small town life and small town conversations, garden growing, from-scratch cooking, and chickens running around. The only difference is that I’m speaking french or patois, and rocking chairs don’t exist. It’s a shame. It’s nice and necessary to get inspiration from people, and it was just what I needed to get my head back into the swing of things. I only have a year left and I have ideas I haven’t even started on!

I also love any opportunity to hear from people back home. My good friend here who teaches at the primary school grows sunflowers in her garden. I have no idea where she got the seeds but they make me so happy to see them. Keep those Kansas reminders coming. I miss you friends and family, and I’ll be coming home soon enough. Don’t forget me.


paula dean cinnamon rolls


I came back from Italy and decided to fix up a lot of things with my living conditions. I moved into this giant house with nothing in it but stacks of plastic chairs. I ordered 2 bamboo beds to be made before the party for my parents and Max’s parents. Since being back I built a kitchen counter out of chairs, post boxes, planks of wood and a sheet of old plywood. I made a spice rack from whiskey bottles and cardboard. found a metal cabinet in a secret downstairs room, built a dest out of 3 window shutters and duct tape, and bought a fridge! Life has gotten much easier now in the cooking and storing things off the ground sort of way. Now if the water would just start running through my pipes so i don’t have to use a well down the road..

last day of school

i’m excited for my last day of class tomorrow. i’m going to cover computer updates and an intro to iphoto. also, at the request of my elderly students, i’ll be giving a glimpse into the techno-teenage world of twitter, facebook and much, much more!

i made this super cute diagram to show the different versions of OS X to go along with The Difference between Updates and Upgrades.

old people & computers

tomorrow is the day I get to talk to the lady at the front office of the neighborhood and ask her about the possibility of teaching a computer class at the club house. (the neighborhood community center next to the marina) I’m super excited about the whole plan. I’ve researched and created some lesson plans that I hope to solidify after getting advice from Pat, the office lady. I also want to consult the closest thing I have to a focus group consisting of my grandma and Konnie, my grandpa’s wife on my mom’s side. I’m crossing my fingers for a “of course you can bring these old ppl into the 2000’s!” It will keep my hands busy in January at least, and will also be a great thing to talk about when my PC rep calls me. If I don’t hear any good news soon, I think I’m chicago bound. It’s a lot more difficult to live here than I was anticipating. I just need a distraction and teaching will hopefully be the key.

for my meeting tomorrow I designed an example flyer I want to give to people with the schedule of classes and a friendly message. it was fun to play around with. i’m wayy too productive here.