>Hello from Kumba, Cameroon for another week!
This past week we had a different program than the previous weeks, as we took in travelling with the University of Dayton Immersion Cameroon group. The Immersion Program offers students the chance to visit one of perhaps four or five countries for a month. The Cameroon group spent their time first visiting sites in Cameroon before spending two weeks working in job shadowing placements while living with host families in Kumba and end their month travelling their last week. Thankfully they welcomed us to join them in their ending trip.
The trip took us to the capital of Yaoundé, and it was great to be there without the stress of the visa situation and able to actually take time to enjoy the city. We were able to see the Peace Corp headquarters and meet with the Cameroon director of Peace Corp operations, and that was a humbling experience to see what dedication they have in making the lives of others around them better. While it may seem like some of the volunteers are doing something small, like teaching about how to use computers or simply living in community with the population, the impact of knowing that people care about them is empowering.
From there we visited the brewery and given a tour of the facility. The sheer scale of the process was what baffled me the most. Almost all of Cameroon’s drinks come from this facility and its regional branch. Unfortunately the electricity was knocked out by a traffic accident not far from the complex, so we couldn’t see the bottles run on the line, which I was really looking forward to.
The next day we visited the United States Embassy on the outskirts of the city and met with the ambassador Janet Garvey. She has been at the embassy since September 2007, and her term is expired in a few short weeks. It was such an informative talk, and many of the students had great questions. Her honesty in answering questions was phenomenal in answering questions about corruption in the Cameroon government, Cameroonian President Biya, and the difficulty in Cameroonians obtaining visas. Her and her staffers were genuinely interested in hearing about our experiences in Cameroon, and our meeting was very relaxed. As Wyatt told me, she reminded us the nice grandma who would welcome you in for cookies. So nice.
We also had the opportunity to meet with students from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC). This is the school where the next diplomats of Cameroon are trained. The visit opened my eyes to the political issues Africa and Cameroon faces in dealing with the global world, the irreversible impacts of globalization, and the Anglophone and Francophone views of globalization.
We then travelled to Bamenda in the Northwest Province. Such a beautiful city with very friendly people. We did not do much there, as we only shopped. Their market is very nice and organized, and we also visited a handi-craft store that had many traditional art work pieces.
I could tell on the trip that I’ve been missing the states. I think the most evident moment of this was when we left the US embassy. As we stepped out of the gate, I somehow felt saddened to leave, and the US flag never looked so good. I’ve been enjoying my time here, but I am getting ready to see my friends and family again. We have a very busy program for the next two weeks, with visiting four villages in ten days. This will help keep my mind busy and help me from being ancy all the time, but I’m ready for home.
In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys the Annie Oakley days festival!
~ Geoff Holmes, Civil Engineer, FE, University of Dayton ’10 graduate.
Photos: 1) We had just three too many people on the trip to ride on the infamous “coke train” that takes visitors to the different branches of the brewery, 2) A view from the steep hill overlooking Bamenda. Such a picturesque city.