A month before my move overseas I had the first of many, “What the heck?”
moments. I’ve never traveled outside of the U.S. alone.

So where did I pick to get my first passport stamp? Cameroon.

As I read up on the city where I’m set to land after a 12-hour flight, one sentence hit me
in the throat.

“The arm pit of Africa.”

I stared at that line until my vision blurred.

The city of Douala, the main travel hub in Cameroon, didn't get that nickname because it
smells like Bobby Brown’s career. The humidity in the region is the culprit. Being from
North Carolina, I'm no stranger to brutal temperatures that wilt new hairstyles like leaves.

I can handle that.

I shooed away my worries and continued reading on the country where I'd
signed up to spend the next six months of my life. Two paragraphs down I read: "pushy
inhabitants," "dull architecture," and "economic chaos." I dropped my head.

Had I made a terrible mistake?

I put the book on the nightstand. The air from my ceiling fan pushed back the first few
pages. I looked down and saw two almond-shaped eyes staring back at me. On this page
were children, two boys and a girl with creamy brown skin, hopeful eyes, and gentle

My purpose for taking this fellowship became clear: To help these kids catch up in a race
that started decades ago.

This summer I applied for the Youth Advocacy Network fellowship to teach students
in Buea, Cameroon computer skills. In America, Facebook and IM chats are how
most kids communicate.

In Buea, more than half have never been on the Internet.

Other digital skills like blogging, word processing and video editing are critical to getting
ahead in this technology-driven world so it’s my job to teach them more than just how to
get a high score on Farmville.

Before the Youth Advocacy Network came to Buea only four students had email
accounts. None had heard of social networking or web-based research.

Now that’s a culture shock.

If these kids can put their fears aside and learn this new technology, I can do the same

and learn how to embrace my new home.

I gave the travel guide of doom another shot and realized three things:

1. The "arm pit" is an hour away from Buea where I'll be living.

2. Buea has breathtaking scenery and beautiful people.

3. Never judge a country by the first chapter of a travel guide.

A student at the New Media Advocacy class in Buea.

Countdown to Cameroon: 13 days.