I’m sitting on the porch this morning and looking up (as usual) at the summit of our magnificent mountain, which today is visible above a ring of clouds hovering at its base. It’s drizzling out—not a good sign for the impending rainy season—and it’s also surprisingly cold. Many people imagine West Africa as place with sweltering rainforests, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Just yesterday, I was trekking in Limbe through a mangrove forest, where the humidity and the temperature in excess of 90° conspired to make me sweat as though I’d just run a marathon. But Buea, located several thousand feet above sea level, has a different climate altogether. Today, I’m guessing that it’s in the low 60°s, and the sweatshirt I’m wearing is barely enough to keep me warm.

Last week ended well, with students in Lycee Molyko and Buea Town working to record podcasts about their projects using Audacity, our audio recording software. On Thursday, a dozen Buea Town students came over to my house after class to hang out and eat some snacks together, and three of my students—Samson, Collins, and Keith—found a clever way to use Audacity to record themselves singing over an instrumental track from one of their favorite songs. The recording came out surprisingly well, and they even managed to set their new track as a ringtone for their cell phones. It’s amazing what they managed to figure out using a program about which they had just learned the basics. It goes to show, I think, how kids can use skills they pick up through practical media education programs like YAN to do very creative things with computers. And it reminds me of all of the other small moments I have witnessed this year where students have taken something I have taught them, and done something totally unexpected and totally cool with it—Junior embedding a UNICEF article on cholera onto his own blog; Ousmanou posting his blog onto Facebook; Bismark bringing in photos of traditional Cameroonian clothing to upload to his website on Cameroonian culture in the 21st century; and the list goes on. I know from my time teaching project-based classes in the US (and now, from my time teaching here) that there is nothing cooler than showing students a new skill, and then giving them the space to execute it in their own way. Sure, some students will just follow the directions you provide, and complete a project successfully; but some will interpret the assignment their own way, and create something extraordinary. I also know that Cameroonians are, by and large, creative and entrepreneurial. I think that both of these elements explain the very cool work that so many of my students have completed this year.

This coming week, YAN students are gearing up to begin their video projects. It is the last major project of the year, and also the longest and most challenging—I’ve scheduled 8 weeks of class time to complete it, and even then, I’m worried about my students getting everything done. This week, students will write a video project proposal; next week, they’ll e-mail experts to set up interviews for their videos; and the week afterwards, they’ll start story boarding each scene of their video, all before shooting commences in April. I’ll post an update in a few days about how they’re faring; but I’m confident that in a few months, you—my readers—will get to see some very creative video projects posted online.

It’s time for me to make some breakfast and get some coffee to stay warm from this cold, rainy morning! Stay tuned for more about students’ video projects—I know they’ll be great.