My first week in Cameroon, I have seen poverty. Lack. Destitute.

But no signs of hopelessness.

If there is one thing I have learned so far it's that the Africa on CNN is not reality. Africa and her people are more than AIDS and conflict, more than late night adopt-a-child infomercials. Africa is a teacher. She is a healer. And for the next 6 months she is my home.

The last two days have been a whirlwind. I have been in awe and terrified in the same breath. The question I get most is, why Cameroon? Why did I choose this little-known West African country to live and work?

It all started with this book:

No. I didn’t come to Cameroon to delay real world work. That's what grad school is for.

Tomorrow is my first day teaching multimedia in a city where kids don't come out the womb saying Google. As I type, I’m praying that the Internet in my apartment will be working when I hit the last word on this entry.

It doesn’t get more “real world” than this.

This book helped me understand that my skills would be needed and appreciated more outside of the states.

But, when I got into the shower that only runs cold water my first night here, and walked into my room with a candle stick, I wondered, too, why I didn’t keep my skills in the comforts of America.

Then, I saw Blessing. She jumped on my lap after only 5 minutes in the orphanage where she and a handful of other beautiful children live. She followed me everywhere. I chased around. I normally shy away from little kids (for fear they might break or something). But I’m magnetically drawn to the children of Buea.

So, my answer now is, I didn’t choose Cameroon; Cameroon chose me.

In the upcoming weeks you will read about my trip to the “salon,” grilled snails (which are actually quite tasty!), being African-American in Africa, frightening taxi rides, and everything in between.

You will see the things that made me go:

And read about the morning view that fills my heart with gratitude:

I know my time in Cameroon will not be all smiling children and mountainside sunrises, but in every challenge there is a blessing.

“The most inspirational man I knew only reached his potential by helping a child reach his.” – Mitch Albom, “Have a Little Faith.”

Next post: 10 Things Americans Can Learn from Cameroonians...