Happy Halloween! Here in Buea, Cameroon, Halloween is not a holiday of much consequence—some people have heard of it, and our Peace Corps friend Nate has introduced to his Cameroonian neighbors the idea of eating candy and dressing up (albeit in clothes from his own closet). Coincidentally, the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Kebir (or “Tabaski”) occurred last week. We have learned that Eid Al-Kebir commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s command, and is often celebrated with a ceremonial sacrifice of a ram. However, as we live in a predominantly Christian area, we haven’t witnessed too much in the way of animal slaughters lately. 

In any case, we have decided to bring a little bit of Halloween to Cameroon in a few ways. This past weekend, we travelled to dusty Kumba, an hour and a half away, for a costume party with several Peace Corps volunteers. Josh went as Kim Kardasian, and Clara went as the Phantom of the Opera—we leave it to our readers to figure out the connection between this mismatched pair (hint: there is no connection). And tonight we are planning to carve jack-o-lanterns out of watermelons, the closest substitute we can identify for pumpkins. We did a test run yesterday afternoon to see if it would work, and our very cute neighbors came over to check out what the heck we were up to with a carved out watermelon. I’d say we were pretty successful! In case the pictures are tough to see, our watermelon-o-lantern reads “YAN” on one side and has a picture of Africa on the other, with a star marking Buea. And the cute kids are Kelli (the elder sister) and Natasha (the younger sister; her only word right now seems to be “Uncle,” which is what she calls Josh). Happy Halloween from YAN and from Buea!


Our students are hard at work this week developing ideas for their social justice projects. During classes, we helped students separate into groups based upon topics of interest—government, environment, health, community, and education. Clara modeled a sample project based upon her own interest in the environment and local fisheries. We then challenged them to come up with a specific question they would like to research for the coming months. Their responses were amazing. Within minutes, our students were deep in conversations about why students fail their secondary school examinations and what the consequences are of polluted water sources in Cameroon. Diana was interested in learning more about whether Cameroon qualifies as a democracy; and Emmanuella and Delphine were wondering how the advent of modern movies, music, and ideas has affected traditional cultural practices in Cameroon.

We next asked our students to list facts that they knew about their topics and questions they still had; and we asked them to generate lists of the types of people and organizations that they could contact to help answer their questions. This kind of brainstorming was new for them, but they were hugely successful once they got going.  We are thrilled to know that our students are ready to actively begin researching their topics, as next week we will teach our students how to use search engines to gather information online, and give them time to explore their topics using Google Scholar, Wikipedia, and more. 

-Written by Josh 

PS: To our friends on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, we hope that you have managed to stay safe and dry from Hurricane Sandy! Also, we have both already cast our absentee ballots, and we ask all of our American friends to remember to vote on November 6.