Hello to our readers in the United States, Cameroon, and elsewhere! It’s been ages since our last post—over a month, I think, which is way too long—but now that the Easter break is over, we’re excited to be back in action here in Buea.

Clara and my first week back has proven to be a good one. Our neighbors and friends in Buea Town have been stopping us on the road to greet us all week long, and—especially for Clara, who has been out of Cameroon since early March—we’ve been warmly welcomed back. The most enthusiastic “hellos” have come from our students, who have been asking after Clara week after week (several, in fact, wrote e-mails to her in the last month about when she would be back, and it was cool getting these sweet messages that were only possible thanks to the e-mail accounts students set up in YAN classes back in November!). Of course, this being Cameroon, we also encountered one or two unexpected frustrations; the big one, that has gotten everyone in Buea irritated, is that the cash-strapped local government has started cracking down on unlicensed taxis, a move that seems motivated more by a desire to collect extra revenue than by an effort to make the roads safer. In any case, the result is that taxis are much harder to find, and cost much more, than they did last week. In trying to get down to Limbe for class on Monday, we (like the Cameroonians in the taxi with us) paid a driver nearly double what we usually pay. Then, we ended up taking an under-construction bush road in an effort to avoid police checkpoints, only to have the 15-mile trip take over 90 minutes as we waited for a front-end loader to place a drainage pipe in the road, and then crossed a dilapidated make-shift bridge that took off the car’s entire rear bumper. But small frustrations aside, things in Buea are much as they were when we left. The weather is still great, the eggs and beans are still nice and greasy, and the people are still among the friendliest that I have ever met anywhere.  

Unbelievably, there are only 6 weeks of YAN classes left before the school year comes to a close; come late May, school (and, thus, YAN) will be ending, and the high-stakes G.C.E. exams will commence for students in Form 5 and Upper 6. Our last 6 weeks of YAN classes will focus on videography, a unit that our students have been looking forward to for months. Over the coming classes, each student group will shoot and edit a short video presentation that introduces their YAN project and includes an interview with a local expert. This week, students prepared for shooting by creating a “storyboard” for their project, which outlined what each scene would consist of. As usual, our students impressed us with their industriousness and creativity. The first week back from vacation is not always an easy one for high schoolers, but our kids dove headfirst into storyboarding, and even our youngest YAN’ners at Lycee Molyko stayed focused for over an hour as they discussed in groups what they wanted their video to look like when completed.

Several students came up with particularly cool ideas. Nelson in Limbe developed (and drew out, in detail) an idea for how he could introduce his project while walking along the grounds of his school up to the principal’s office, where his interview is to take place. At Lycee Molyko, students like Melvin, Odette, Elisee, Chaforku, Jean, and Cardine found ways of including, as a part of their introductions, footage and photos pertaining to their project—for instance, Melvin, who is researching corruption, plans to superimpose pictures illustrating his topic while he is defining corruption and explaining how it affects Cameroon. Likewise, George and Henry—who are researching the sensitive topic of prostitution in Cameroon—have found appropriate and professional ways to use text in their video in order to highlight the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. Noela in Buea Town crafted great questions that she planned to ask during her interview with a local doctor, like “why is it that, despite the already existing ways in which we can cure malaria, the rate at which patients die increases persistently?” And Jude, Mingeley, and Kennedy in Buea Town asked me very professionally if it would be ok for them to end their video with a song that they had written about water pollution (the answer, of course, was “yes”). Next week, shooting of the “introduction” portions of student videos will commence, and during the week afterwards we will start to venture around town with our students as they shoot their interviews with local doctors, school leaders, and environmental activists. It will be, I think, a very cool way to end a great year of YAN classes with our kids.


P.S.: I imagine that our readers have tired of hearing over and over again about Mount Cameroon, but I couldn’t resist inserting this photo, taken this past Wednesday from a bar at Malingo Junction, a popular street food area near the University of Buea. Clara and I were chatting with a few friends when I looked up at the mountain and noticed this radiant fire created by the setting sun.