Sunday I went to a volunteer fair organized by the European Union organizations working here.  It was a great opportunity to meet with locals and internationals alike doing work here in Cameroon.  I focused on the local organizations with a not so subtle agenda to get them to come into my class and speak about their work.  I also hope that they will make themselves available to my students for interviews and advice when the time comes for them to make their videos.


Teaching Cameroonian students multi-media advocacy has two main difficulties.   So many of them don’t even know where to type a web address let alone how to perform a basic search.  For the exercise we are currently working on, a presentation on an advocacy organization and how they use social media, it is all I can do not to bang my head against the wall when I see them search “advocacy organizations using new media.”  How many different ways can you explain to a kid that you want them to find an organization working on an issue and then “explore” how they use social media.  The second difficulty comes from just being an outsider.  I have a list of great websites and organizations working on advocacy issues internationally and in the U.S.  I don’t have many examples from Cameroon. 


I can’t do much about the learning curve when it comes to technology  - I wake up in a cold seat imagining what it will be like to try and get them to make a website of their own.  But, I hope that the contacts I made at the volunteer fair will help me bring the issues we discuss in class to a more local context.  I’ve got contacts with organizations working in political transparency, civics, job creation and training, health, and women’s issues.  Now, I just have to find a way to get these two parties – my kids and the civil society leaders I met – excited about one another. 


We’ll see how it goes.  I’m still in a constant state of discontent and worry about how all this is going to play out when the rubber hits the road – but whatever happens I’ll adapt and hopefully the kids will pick something useful up.