Six months felt like eternity when I first arrived to Cameroon. Now, I'm staring down the New Year with three months behind me and a pocket full of lessons. I love teaching. I love my kids. But, this year was not all LOLs and smiley faces. 

I yelled, took away free play, and even had to suspend a boy for his constant disruptions during class. Oddly, it was those moments of reprimanding when I felt most connected to my students. It reminded me that they are kids, just like kids in America, or any where else.

They laugh, joke, complain and, yes, misbehave. 

When my friends back home found out I was teaching in Africa, many pictured me drawing alphabets in the dirt with sticks to dutifully obedient children (cue the Save the Children commercial).

We joke about it now but, I too, had some backwards assumptions about working with kids in Africa. 

Would they get it? Should I talk slower? Is this too much information?

I quickly learned that these kids have the same aptitude to learn new technology as those growing up with computers in the home and cyber cafes on every corner.

After only a month, students who had never touched a computer were posting Facebook notes, using email and researching online. My advanced multimedia class produced podcasts on child labor, the cholera outbreak in Cameroon and shared touching family stories.

All kids can learn given the proper tools and encouragement. And no, we don't have shiny new equipment for every student, but what we do have we make work (and have a lot of fun in the process).

Just as I'm challenging the kids to experiment with changing technology and push their potentials to new heights, I'm holding myself to the same standards for 2011.


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