We’re back in tropical Buea after spending the holidays in snowy New England!  It’s only been two and half weeks, but there are already new buildings under construction around town, a new picket fence by the side of the road, and new hit songs on the radio.  (Monday morning we woke up to a man singing ‘Gangnam Style’ to himself as he mixed cement for the new latrine going up next door.)  Apparently we changed a bit during these weeks away as well.   The first thing our neighbors said when we returned was: “uncle Josh, you are fat!”  I guess all those U.S. pizza slices took their toll (but hey, there’s no cheese in Buea, so it was important to stock up!).

Despite the many 2013 developments, much of our life here remains comfortably familiar.  It is still common for women to sing loudly and unabashedly to the music played in taxis, you can still buy 5 (or sometimes 6) tomatoes for 200 fcfa ($0.40), and our students are as fun as ever. 

Our theme in classes this week is review: Josh and I created an online scavenger hunt that requires students to practice sending e-mails, do a bit of trivia searching on Google, and visit the websites they worked so hard to create in December. This is a great way for us to make sure that students are up to date on their YAN work, and to help them catch up if needed.  Yesterday, our students in Limbe raced through this activity, as much as racing is possible with Cameroonian Internet.   Towards the end of class, we made the final rounds to each student to check in on their progress and found that most had finished the assignment and were beginning to pursue personal research interests.  Who are the top 11 FIFA players in 2012?  Who is the highest paid footballer in the world?  What is Real Madrid’s record for the season?  And other such varied topics…

Next week, we will begin a unit on social networking.  Most students already have Facebook accounts (although very few have profile pictures—it is rare for families to have cameras, and those with camera phones likely have no way to connect these to a computer), so we will be focusing on how Facebook can be used to effectively share information with many people.   Our plan is to facilitate a fun cultural exchange on Facebook between our YAN students and a U.S. school (plus helpful friends from around the globe!).   To prepare for this unit, our students worked over the holidays to describe the Cameroonian details of a common activity (taking a taxi, cooking food, going to school, etc.).  Our U.S. and other international participants will do the same.  The end product will be a series of ‘how things are done in_______’ Facebook groups linked to the YAN Facebook page.   Here’s a preview of what our students have to teach:

How to Buy Goods in Cameroonian Markets—by Adams Fils of Limbe, Cameroon

First of all, you take a taxi saying you are going to the market of your choice.  In my town of Limbe we have 3 main markets: Old Market, New Market, and Mile 4 Market.  When you arrive at the market if you want to buy something like vegetables you go to the person selling and ask for the price.  If the price isn’t convenient, you can give the price you have and you and the seller may agree on another price.

If you want to buy clothes, you pick the dress of your size, measure it on, and then ask for the price.  If you go to the market the dresses that are put down on the ground will be less expensive than the ones that are hung up.

Stay posted for more information on ‘How things are done in Cameroon’ and to learn how you can participate in our cultural exchange.

More soon!