It's that time of year again - where work comes and sits on your vocal cords and crushes your dreams. (Oh wait, that's nodes. #pitchperfect)
The school year winding down faster and faster, continuously interrupted by national days of fête-ing that turn into weeks of no school (Bilingualism Day, Youth Day, Women's Day, National Day...) or by testing weeks. That means all my school-related projects - which are most of them - also have approaching ends. This is kind of exciting - the end of May will mean the end of most of my work, and I can spend the last few months frolicking and sitting at the café sipping sweetened condensed milk with a bit of coffee mixed in. (#wishfulthinking) But it's also kind of stressful, because there are still so many things that I still want to accomplish before the end of the year!
Here's a rundown of what I've been working on lately...
1. Club FORTES : An extracurricular program targeting female high school students (though there are now 3 regularly attending you men as well!) to teach life skills and puberty and sexual reproductive health, issues which are not normally discussed either at school or at home. I'm trying to find a counterpart to replace me when I leave at Lycée Bansoa-Mbri, the school just ten minutes down the road, but without much progress. I am having better luck at Lycée Bakassa, which is more like ten kilometers down the road, but as a new school is more engaged and open to change.
2. Youth For Change : Another extracurricular program, this one teaching civic engagement and active citizenship. It's in partnership with my host organisation RIDEV and targets 2nd year (16 year old) students at the Lycée Classique in Bafoussam. We teach motivated young adults about issues in their communities, like HIV and the environment, and then teach them skills (leadership, communication) to address those issues in their communities. We hope to take the participants on several excursions to see our theoretical knowledge at work in Bafoussam before the students plan and execute their own volunteer project!
3. March 8th, International Women's Day : My peer educators and some motivated young women from Club FORTES are putting together and educational skit about early pregnancy to present at Women's Day. They will parade in matching yellow t-shirts in *distant* Penka-Michel (the administrative center of my town) and are very excited!
4. Camp FORTES : Round 2 is planned for mid June, right at the beginning of their long break from school. We're hoping to train 25 more young women as peer educators in Baleng, Bansoa, and Bafoussam - as well as giving the girls a "sleepover summer camp" experience that many Americans take for granted as part of their summer breaks!
5. Art Class : Postmate Danielle and I teach art class to four groups of 50 elementary school students at Kinder's House in Banock every Tuesday. The students range in age form 5 to 11, and as you can imagine, this makes for an exhausting day. But the kids love it, and their delight with using materials they've never been allowed to touch before makes it worth it - most of the time. We're currently playing with watercolors - all over their paper, their tables, their floors, their uniforms, their faces...
(Special thanks to my grandma Kay Duffy and her artsy friends for donating so many art supplies to the school!)
There's plenty of other little stuff going on as well, but these are the big ones.
Finally, during the first week of April, I'll be traveling to beautiful beachy Kribi for my Close of Service (COS) conference! I can't believe how fast time is passing; only six months left.