Wednesday started just like any other Wednesday. I prepared for the lessons in the morning and headed to school shortly after noon. At Lycee, when I arrived, the director of the lab informed me that the internet was not working. Usually, this isn’t a big deal because there are other things they can work on, for example researching from articles I have previously saved on my flash drive or writing a professional email (and not sending it just saving it to my flash drive), but today was different. Nearly every research group had completed their research and they were all ready to create their website.

By 1:30pm only six students had showed up!! I asked the students, “Where is everyone?” They said, “Madam, it is rasta week.” I remember hearing this term from a friend of mine last year so I asked them to explain it. Rasta week, or should I say weeks because it includes the two weeks before holidays, is a time period where things are very free and chaotic. The students don’t have to come to school or go to class unless they are writing an exam. They all admitted to me that the only reason why they came to school that day was because they knew they had YAN class but if they didn’t have YAN class then they would have just stayed home. They also told me that they are sure the other students who were absent didn’t come to class at all that day. I confirmed this with the Principal of Lycee today. She also explained how many students are absent from class because they are practicing marching for when the President comes so the teachers are hesitant to continue teaching sine so many students are missing from class.

Only one student still needed to do research for her project so I opened up files from my flash drive and sat with her for 1 hr 30min. The other five went home. Before they went home we arranged for an extra class to take place on Friday. If at least five computers are working in the Lycee lab at noon on Friday then we will have class at Lycee, otherwise we will walk to checkpoint where I have located a cyber café for us to rent and use for two hours.

After Lycee I went to Buea Town where I met 17 smiling faces ready to learn! I passed back the curriculum booklets and let them review their marks for about 5-10min and answered any questions they had. Some of them were ready to move onto building their website and others were still in the research phase. Everyone proceeded with what stage they were at. The only issue students were having this week was email addresses. When we created them, I checked everyones’ notebook that they had copied down their username, host and password (which has both lower and upper case letters and numbers). When they went to try their email several people were having issues with their password and one girl was even ‘locked out’ of her yahoo address for being ‘inactive’ for so long… I was surprised, it has only been 4 weeks. This was solved by using my phone number to send ‘codes’ to so the students could access their email. By the end of the class 3 groups have created their website and 2 groups are just about ready to build their website.

Today, while I waited for the advanced students to arrive at class, I downloaded Audacity, a program that edits podcasts. We will be using this program shortly after the holiday is finished and classes have resumed. Soon it was 4pm, no students were there, and Audacity wasn’t finished downloading. Earlier that day, I had put a sign up on the message board for the YAN Club to meet on Friday (the make up class) and I am wondering if the Advanced kids were confused and thought it was for them. That, or their absence can be attributed to ‘rasta week’. Next week I am hoping that the Advanced students will be able to have two classes, but only time will tell.

Although it is challenging at times working in a country that I am still unfamiliar with, even after 9 months, it sure is quite interesting to learn about the Cameroonian lifestyle and to experience it first hand. It’s exciting to see how things work around here especially because it gives me a unique zeal to push even harder and come up with innovative solutions to unpredictable problems.